Honey is not a spice but is used in many countries in various meals and as an ingredient of many foods. Man has been aware of the value of honey for many centuries. Indians used honey in cooking and for medicinal purposes and made sacrificial offerings of it to their gods, thousands of years before. It is delicious, to eat it raw. It is a yummy topping on toast and ice creams. Fruits taste better with Honey. Soak the fruit pieces in honey for 10 min before eating for that very delicious flavour and taste.
Honey is a sweet and viscous fluid produced by honey bees and derived from the nectar of flowers. Bees draw up nectar from the flower and store it in their honey sacs. Conversion into honey then starts immediately. It takes place in 2 stages - firstly fermentation and secondly, evaporation of any excess moisture. The average bee only produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime. A bee will visit between 50 and 100 flowers in one trip alone and up to 2 miles to collect honey from the same type of flower.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharide fructose and glucose and has approximately the same relative sweetness as granulated sugar. Most micro-organisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity. However, it is important to note that honey frequently contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in the infant's immature intestinal tract, leading to illness and even death. Honey contains trace amounts of several vitamins and minerals. As with all nutritive sweeteners, honey is mostly sugars and is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals. Honey also contains tiny amounts of several compounds thought to function as antioxidants.
Honey is made up of simple sugars. It is therefore easily and quickly absorbed and is a source of quick energy.
Honey contains all the vitamins and trace elements which nutritionists consider necessary for health; the B vitamins, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, biotin, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and nicotinic acid. Trace elements include iron, copper, manganese, silicon, chlorine, calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, aluminium and magnesium.
Honey is the only food that will never spoil. Unlike fruit and vegetables, it will never lose its vitamins during harvesting, storage and preparation. The darker honeys have the highest mineral content and can contain four times as much iron as lighter honeys.
Honey promotes the correct working of the digestive organs and can be taken as a mild laxative. Babies (over one year old only) whose diet includes honey rarely suffer from abdominal pain. Please note babies under the age of one year should never be fed honey because their immune system is undeveloped.
When honey is applied to burns, it will prevent the formation of blisters and promote quick healing of the skin.
Honey can absorb moisture and it has been prized for its mild antibiotic properties for centuries due to this fact. When bacteria is trapped in honey, the honey will absorb moisture from the bacteria and so kill it off.
Many hand and body lotions, facial creams, face packs and soaps contain honey. It will penetrate tiny crevices through which even water will not pass. It therefore makes an excellent emollient as well as a protective, germ-proof shield.
For at least 2700 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, but only recently have the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey been chemically explained. Wound Gels that contain antibacterial honey and have regulatory approval for wound care are now available to help conventional medicine in the battle against drug resistant strains of bacteria MRSA. As an antimicrobial agent honey may have the potential for treating a variety of ailments. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity. Honey may also be used to alleviate the effects of a sore throat, by mixing with lemon juice and consumed. The mixture coats the throat alleviating discomfort, and the antibacterial, antiseptic properties are good for the throat as well. This according to recent research may in fact be more effective than most common medicines.