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What is honey?

Melliferous bees produce honey with the nectar of flowers or with secretions of live parts of plants which (nectar and secretions) are collected, processed, mixed with their own substances, saved and left to mature inside the beehive honeycombs. Beekeepers remove the honey from the honeycombs with the simple application of centrifugation or of simple compression. Honey may be in liquid form, syrup form or in crystallised form.

What types of honey are there? What is Thyme Honey?

Honey can be distinguished into two large categories:
1. Honeydew honey, which is produced from the juices of pine trees, fir trees and other forest plants.
2. Floral honey which is produced from the nectar of flowers.

Approximately 12,000 tons of honey are produced annually in Greece. 60-70% of this production comes from honeydew secretions (forest honey) and the rest comes from flowers (floral honey).
The largest quantity of forest honey comes from pine trees, fir trees and oak trees. These types of honey do not crystallise and they are highly nutritional due to their high content of trace elements (potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron and more).

Depending on the plant from which bees collect nectar, floral honey is classified in seperate categories, such as the famous thyme honey, the highly aromatic honey of the orange flower, honey from heather, honey from the chestnut, the - rich in antibacterial properties - cotton honey and various other types of honey that are collected mainly from aromatic herbs of the Greek provinces, such as wild oregano or wild lavander and many more.

Thyme honey is classified amongst the best qualities of honey. It has a strong fragrance, pleasant flavour, a light colour and it crystallizes within 8-18 months as of its production date. Thyme honey in Greece comprises 10% of the total honey production and is first on the list of quality categories worldwide.

Which countries produce thyme honey?

Thyme honey is exclusively produced in Greece. Sunlight and the constant variations of the landscape determine Greek honey’s particular characteristics. The variations in the Greek landscape give rise to over 7,500 types of plants, of which 850 are found exclusively in Greece. That is why certain special honey varieties (such as thyme honey) are not encountered anywhere else in the world.

Does honey crystallize - what is incorrectly referred to as ‘sugaring’?

Crystallization, also known as (although incorrectly) sugaring, is a natural organic phenomenon of natural raw honey that does not cause any alteration in the honey’s nutritional or organic properties. Crystallization and the speed at which it appears depend on the origin of the honey. Therefore, crystallized honey is not honey gone bad, or adulterated. On the contrary, crystallization IS A GUARANTEE THAT THE HONEY IS OF GOOD QUALITY.

Attention should be given when re-liquefying; the bain-marie method can be used and the honey should be regularly stirred. When it liquefies it should be restored to its natural temperature as soon as possible. Its temperature should not exceed 45oC, because it loses its organic value, its colour and its fragrance. (It is not hazardous. It can replace sugar).

There is a possibility that the honey may turn sour. This may happen when honey has high humidity, when it contains many fungi spores, when its temperature is above 15-27oC or when there is oxygen on the surface of the honey (in half-empty containers). When we heat sour honey at 70oC for 10 minutes, the sourness disappears, but the honey’s organic value is destroyed.

Should honey be kept in the fridge?

Honey keeps perfectly in the fridge. In this manner, fermentation and alteration of its composition is avoided. When out of the fridge, honey should be kept in a dark and cool place, away from the sun and from odours, in a glass or stainless steel container. It should always be sealed and half-empty containers should be avoided.

Is honey a health food?

Following studies, there is positive proof that honey beneficially affects man: for the eyes, stomach, liver, kidneys, heart, respiratory tract, colds, skin (sores, skin care), nervous system (insomnia). Honey increases muscle strength and tolerance; it increases mental ability, reduces fatigue and exhaustion, repels and treats serious illness and diseases. In other words, honey is food, a sweet and medicine.

What colour does honey have?

The colour of honey indicates its origin. Honey may be blonde, golden or even brown. Factors that affect the colour of honey are: speed of collection, honeycomb, cell maturity and filtering, naturally fining, exposure to air, packaging, heating and time and storage conditions.

The characteristics of honey are its aroma and its flavour which may alter if the storage and processing conditions are inappropriate. The colour of honey is a characteristic of its origin and is considered to be one of the main quality criteria that affect consumer preference. Dark-coloured honey is rich in trace elements and therefore highly nutritional, while light-coloured honey has a pleasant colour and flavour. One of the natural properties of honey is its glutinous texture which defines liquidity, hygroscopicity and crystallization


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