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Pooh bear was onto something long before the rest of us
ood of the Gods. Liquid gold. We are a generation of honey worshippers — but it’s not all about satisfying our sweet tooth. Well known as a natural sweetener and delicious toast topper, honey also possesses a wide range of incredibly powerful and unique healing properties.
With more and more consumers becoming aware of these health (and taste) benefits, the honey-sphere is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. From exotic imported varieties to corn syrup additives, it can be difficult to know what you’re really paying for.
So, let’s start with the basics.
Raw honey is untreated, and therefore superior in purity, clarity and with a more full-bodied taste. It contains natural traces of pollen from the bees and is rich with live, nutritional enzymes.
When honey is heated through pasteurisation, it loses these health boosting properties as well as the unique flavour palate from the blossom.
This means that you should avoid using raw honey in high temperature cooking or hot drinks if you want to retain its nutritional value.
Bees that feed on specific plants make honey with distinctive flavours, hence the wide variety available in markets, stores and online.
Honey labelled “multi flora” or “floral blend” can be a combination of varieties with no specific taste. If you want something more distinguished for cooking or consuming on its own then try out some mono-floral varieties. We have included both in this round up.
Honey is a great way to get your sugar fix without the nasties. Here are a few of its natural health benefits:
New Zealand’s Manuka honey, made from the nectar of the mānuka tree, and European honeydew honey are said to have particularly powerful medicinal properties due to their high anti-bacterial content. This is often reflected in the accompanying price tags.
Honey is an animal product, therefore it is not strictly vegan. The health and welfare of bees can be jeopardised in the making of honey.
In this round up, we’ve tried to choose products that are best for our health (raw, unpasteurised) and that of the bees (produced in an ethical way) without compromising on taste.
Here’s our pick of the finest honeys in the UK:
Holders of a Royal Warrant, Tiptree know their stuff when it comes to condiments. In this case, we have to agree – this is the best set honey on the market. Smooth in consistency and creamy in flavour, it doesn’t leave a sticky residue inside your mouth like many set honeys do. With plenty of integrity in terms of flavour, it has a subdued sweetness that isn’t too overpowering. Absolutely divine.
This New Zealand honey is incredibly creamy with a wonderfully smooth texture that dissolves well into warm drinks. The overall taste is rich and buttery with herbal, liquorice and caramel notes. Upon opening the jar, there is a strong aroma, but what it lacks in sweet scent it makes up for in taste. It has a lovely dark amber colouring.
£14 | Ocado
With its delicate taste and light amber colouring, this honey is an absolute treat. The subtle hints of citrus give a gentle tang without being overpowering, and the floral undertones are fresh and punchy. You get what you pay for with this product, as Maters & Co always source their honey from sustainable hives, and never pasteurise it, in order to preserve natural vitamins, enzymes and nutrients.
£13.95 | Yumbles
This hilltop honey has a lovely, thick texture with a rich, earthy flavour. Harvested from tree sap, it is darker than many other honeys, which has been linked to higher antioxidant content. It makes a delicious healthy alternative to caramel or treacle, without being sickly sweet. Drizzle over desserts, or stir into porridge with the easy squeezy bottle (which is also recyclable).
£6 | Daily Bread
This is an extremely dark and indulgent honey harvested from the honeydew in the bark of ancient oak trees and wild wild local forest herbs. As a completely raw product, the thick and grainy texture may be difficult to spread but it smells amazing. The woody flavours are reminiscent of molasses, vanilla, walnuts and dark chocolate.
Produced in Greece by a third generation bee-keeper this honey is rich in antioxidants and minerals, it contains large quantities enzymes which support metabolism, organ function and the digestive system.
£9.95 | R.A.W Artisan Honey
The colour of this acacia honey looks absolutely beautiful, it’s crystal clear with a slight golden hue and runny consistency. It has a strong aroma, and the flavour is superb.
Naturally sweet and light, it melts in your mouth and has a wealth of health benefits. Raw acacia boosts the immune system and can also help ease heartburn.
£4.75 | R.A.W Artisan Honey
This dark honey has somewhat of a unique taste. Its smooth texture is complemented beautifully by warming earthy flavours. It isn’t as sweet as other honeys that are made by bees feasting on flowers or herbs.
If you like the taste of almonds, this honey delivers a similar distinctive flavour that works well in marinades and dressings. Extracted cold and minimally filtered, the beneficial properties of the nectar and pollen remain abundant.
£5.49 | Odysea
With a chunk of pure honeycomb within the jar, this is for the hardcore honey lovers. Its powerful flavour is floral and slightly fruity with a mild taste. This makes it the perfect partner to cheese, spread on toast or drizzled over yoghurt with mint. Whilst £24.95 may seem steep for a small jar, the strong, zesty flavour means a little goes a long way.
£24.95 | Fortnum & Mason
Also shop Portuguese Wild Lavender Honey (£9.95)
Not only is Manuka honey absolutely delicious, it’s packed with antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits. Manuka Doctor honeys are no exception.
The rich golden nectar is thick, creamy, smooth and bursting with unbelievable flavour. It can be used to soothe sore throats and improve digestive issues. This honey can also be applied topically to help heal wounds and dry skin conditions such as eczema.
£23 | Manuka Doctor
This is the kind of product that can convert any honey hater — the extra gooey texture and rich, herbal taste will have them hooked in no time.
At 850 MGO, it is one of the most powerful Manuka honeys available in the UK. Consume this product like you would a medicine, and avoid using it in tea or cooking, which can destroy some of the health benefits. Instead, take one to three teaspoons raw each morning, or apply to problem skin to fast-forward the healing process.
£27.99 | Amazon
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