Oh Honey!

Prachi Joshi

A healthy substitute for sugar, a natural antiseptic and a go-to for sore throats… these are but a few well-known benefits of honey.

The hunt for honey has been on for centuries. A cave painting in Valencia, Spain, suggests that humans have been gathering honey for over 2,500 years. Whilst, the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of the amber liquid have been long-documented in our Ayurvedic texts.

The health benefits of honey are often tapped into by homemade remedies be it for cold, coughs, rashes, or allergies. There’s nothing like a soothing concoction of honey, grated ginger and lime juice to nurse a sore throat. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties also make it a suitable fix for applying onto surface wounds.

The quality of honey can be determined by its fragrance, taste, and consistency. Good honey, when poured, should form small, temporary layers that disappear quickly. If not, it’s a sign of excessive water content – such honey is not suitable for long-term storage.

In jars, fresh honey appears as a pure, consistent fluid, and does not set in layers. However, subsequently, many varieties of honey crystallise into a cream-colored solid.

Adding to the appeal of this natural sweetener are the various colours, flavours and aromas of the different types of honey, which depend on the nectar source of flowers visited by the honey bee. Colours range from nearly clear to dark brown (such as with the nearly-opaque wild forest honey), and the flavours from mellow (like the light litchi honey) to distinctively bold. The fragrance may even yield a hint of the flower from which the honey has originated!

We’re incredibly spoilt for choice with the different kinds of honey available in India including litchi, jamun, eucalyptus, wild honey etc., which needn’t be limited to therapeutic uses. Add a dollop of honey to flavour your cereal or Greek yoghurt, or dig into a healthy fruit salad topped with honey. Try substituting butter with a luscious litchi honey with your morning toast, or simply make green tea more palatable by adding a splash of honey to a steaming cuppa.

Honey also has some rather attractive chemical properties for use in baking. Try our favourite recipe for a peach and blackberry galette sweetened with honey, to find out for yourself…