Honey Sources and Extraction:
Honey is a sweet substance produced by honeybees and other insects. Innumerable floral sources are available for the honeybees to extract the sweetest of nectar and sweet deposits to be converted to honey and stored in honeycombs. For the bees, honey is a food source and they use it as their source of energy.
Honey is separated from the comb by centrifugal force, gravity, straining or other means. The honey thus extracted is processed by filtration to eliminate air bubbles, solid impurities and pollen grains. Honey thus obtained is in its purest form that does not allow the addition of any other substance to it. To test the purity of Honey, pour a few drops of Honey on a blotting paper, if Honey gets absorbed – it is adulterated, otherwise it is pure.
The color of honey varies from white to dark amber. The color depends on its mineral content and its floral source. The light colored honey has a mild flavor in taste, while dark colored honey has stronger flavor. Honey is composed of the sugars Glucose, Fructose and water. Sometimes it turns into a semi-solid state known as crystallized or granulated honey. This happens naturally when Glucose precipitates because the quantity of sugar is more than 70% relative to the water content, which is less than 20%.
Honey is believed to have myriad medicinal qualities. It contains health-benefiting nutrients like carbohydrates, several vitamins and minerals, like vitamins B and C, Iron, Sodium, Potassium and Iron. It also contains amino acids and enzymes, which help in digestion. Thus, consuming honey ensures a good supply of necessary nutrients to the body and provides instant energy.
Honey has been used in home remedies since time immemorial for mild ailments.
To get relief from cough, add 3tsp of Lemon Juice, 1tsp of Honey and ½ tsp of Ginger Juice to half a cup of warm water. Drink this solution three times a day.
Start your day by sipping the energy drink prepared with a spoon of Honey, Lemon Juice with 1 glass of warm water. Medical experts are of the opinion that this helps the kidneys to flush out completely.
The human skin loves to be pampered by honey. It has antibacterial and antiseptic properties due to which it used for external applications to heal injuries, burns and other skin conditions. Honey is an excellent and most powerful natural moisturizer as it is hygroscopic i.e., it attracts moisture form the atmosphere to the skin! It is used as an important ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetics because of its anti-irritant and antioxidant properties.
Face packs can be prepared using Honey at home – Mix Honey with Curds/Yogurt and a few drops of Lemon Juice and apply on face, leave it on for 5 minutes and wash and see your face glow and become soft.
Honey has a shelf life of two years. It is important to store honey in sterilized and sealed airtight containers. The storage temperature should be in-between 70 – 80 Degrees F (21 – 27 Degrees C) Range.
Uses of Honey:
Honey is popularly used in cooking, baking, spreading on bread or toast, and as an addition to various beverages. In the United States of America the month September is celebrated as National Honey Month along with National Breakfast Month. So, keep honey handy to top tea, coffee, cereal, biscuits and cornbread and celebrate the goodness of honey.
Honey in Cultures and Folklore:
In Hinduism “Madhu” meaning honey is revered nectar and it is one of the five main ingredients used to bathe the idols of worship at home and temples during the pooja/ritual. The other ingredients are Milk, Curds, Ghee and Sugar. The mixture of these 5 ingredients is known as “Panchamrutha“, meaning 5 nectars, which is distributed among devotees.
On Modhu Poornima festival, celebrated by Buddhists in India and Bangladesh, Buddhists offer honey of monks. This day commemorates Buddha retreating into the wilderness. While meditating there, a monkey had brought him honey to eat. This gift by the monkey is often depicted in Buddhist artwork.
In parts of Greece, it was formerly the custom for a bride to dip her fingers in honey and make a sign of the cross before entering her husband’s home. This was to ensure sweetness in her married life, especially in her relationship with her mother-in-law.
So, relish the goodness of honey to ensure sweetness in your life!