I love honey. The kind that is worth relishing. Bursting with caramel notes or honey which has dark, smoky overtones and even the one with a floral finish. The flavours are heavenly more like a sweet boon. But you may not feel the same way, if you've been picking up the ordinary jar of honey that lines grocery shelves. Such a pity. The buzz about bees Honey is nature's most interesting sweetener and true honey will always surprise you with its scent, taste and colour which reflect the flora from where the bees collect their nectar. The beauty of it is that the result is always up to nature and more so, when bees are allowed to express the uniqueness of their surroundings in honey. For instance, the flavour of honey collected from bee boxes on a mustard plantation will be very different from the robust wild forest honey extracted from natural hives. But a lot of the flavour and quality of honey depends on how carefully it is handled after being procured.
What is so special about raw honey?Raw honey is the most original sweet liquid you will find. It is collected fresh after being produced by honeybees with the nectar they sip from flower blossoms. It is unheated, unpasteurized and unprocessed. This is not too difficult to understand as the word 'raw' clearly indicates being 'uncooked'. Sonia Sharma, Certified Nutritionist and Founder of Nature Organic who sources raw honey from the Himalayan foothills tells me that honey in its raw state still has the essential prana or life force which is found in every other raw food.
Crystallization is a good thing The crystallization of honey is actually a trait of pure, natural honey. During crystallization the glucose sugar in honey separates from the water and turns into white crystals because it is an over-saturated sugar solution. The process of crystallization is known to preserve certain characteristics of your honey like flavour and quality. “People believe that crystallized honey has gone bad but honey never expires. If it is stored in a cool and dry place, it will naturally crystallize in a few months. Just place the jar in hot water for a few minutes and it will regain its original texture. The one that doesn't may have chemicals to increase its shelf life or the one that crystallizes partially at the bottom may be adulterated,' adds Manav.The recent controversies are a reflection of how food-safety procedures unfold in India and that adulteration is common. Honey can be easily adulterated with glucose solution or high-fructose corn syrup and ingredients you may never know. It's best to do your due diligence before buying and not always trust what you see. A simple trick that I use to check the quality of honey is to put some in a glass of water. Pure honey should remain solid and not dissolve when submerged in water.
Well-known raw food guru David Wolfe, in his book – ‘Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future', talks about raw honey being ‘nature's richest source of live healing enzymes and that it increases reflexes, mental alertness and even IQ!' He suggests that all honeys should be eaten raw as cooked honey has no enzymes and wherever possible select organic honey packaged in glass.