Our advice for choosing your honey
From its origin to its medicinal properties, discover the criteria to take into account when choosing your honey.
A true jewel of nature, honey shines as much by its golden colour as by its taste and its numerous health benefits. It is produced by the bees gathering nectar from melliferous flowers and the long and rigorous work that follows in the hives, honey is a noble product that has earned a place of choice in our kitchens and on our tables. But in order to get all the gustatory and therapeutic benefits of the nectar of the Gods, you need to know what makes a quality honey. Here are 5 tips for choosing your honey.
1. The origin of the honey
Many mass-marketed honeys have been modified to maximise their yield, to the detriment of the taste and overall quality of the product: addition of syrups, water or additives, mixing of honeys from several varieties of flowers from different countries in the European Union or Asia, etc. However, honey is self-sufficient and must not have undergone any transformation between its production by the bees and its tasting. So look out for labels that clearly state the origin of the honey (France, Provence, Occitania, Corsica, etc.) and that carry a label (AOC, AOP, IGP, organic) or the words "Harvested and potted by the beekeeper".
2. Single-flower honeys
A major advantage of honey is that it offers the benefits of the flower variety from which it is made. However, when a jar of honey contains multiple varieties of flowers, none of them can really reveal all their benefits. Moreover, depending on its floral origin, each honey offers a unique texture, colour and taste that deserves to be tasted as it is without being diluted with dozens of other honeys.
Even if you have to taste several honeys, it is therefore advisable to opt for so-called monofloral honeys, i.e. honeys made from at least 80% of a single flower variety. While some plants make it easy to produce monofloral honey in large quantities, other honeys from rare plants require thousands of trips and thousands of hours of work by the bees to produce the equivalent of a jar.
3. Crystallization of honey
The crystallisation of honey is a natural phenomenon which occurs more or less late depending on the ratio between two sugars present in the product: glucose and fructose. The richer it is in glucose, the faster it crystallises, as is the case with rapeseed honey, and conversely if it contains mostly fructose, such as acacia honey. When this phenomenon occurs, it is enough to bathe the honey for a few minutes in a water bath, stirring continuously, for it to regain its original liquid texture without losing any of its virtues.
As you will have understood, sooner or later, honey ends up crystallising - at least if it is pure! Indeed, honey that never hardens has probably had additives added to it before being marketed.
4. The colour of honey
Each nectar has its own unique golden hue. Some have a blond hue like wheat, such as acacia honey, lime honey or lemon honey, others have a deep amber colour, such as raspberry, fir or heather honey, while buplèvre, forest or chestnut honeys are unequivocally dark brown.
If each honey, like a wine, has its own palette of flavours, you don't need to be an expert in the field to find the honey that will suit your taste buds. Keep in mind that the darker the honey, the more pronounced its taste. A light-coloured honey is likely to have subtle, fruity aromas, while a very brown honey will reveal woody, slightly bitter notes.
5. Choosing honey according to its virtues
As explained earlier in this article, honey is a real concentrate of medicinal benefits. Depending on the plants used in its composition, each honey has different therapeutic powers. Among the many types of honey that exist:
- Chestnut honey is recommended for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
- Lavender honey is known for its antiseptic and healing action
- Thyme honey is ideal for relieving flu, coughs, asthma, etc.
- Fir tree honey helps to fight against respiratory infections and kidney problems
- and much more.
The virtues of honey can therefore be taken into consideration when choosing it. Find out which plants are indicated to relieve the symptoms you suffer from (digestion, sleep, blood circulation, headaches, etc.) and choose a honey from this plant, if it is a honey-bearing plant!