Honey is available all year long, but it’s at its tastiest in summer and early autumn when it has just been harvested. So we’re right in the middle of the honey season. This is the best time to discover its amazing properties. Give your body a wonderful gift — stop buying off-the-shelf honey products that contain only a small percentage of honey and discover the plethora of uses for this truly marvelous golden liquid!
Honey: first among the super-foods
Acacia, thyme, lavender, heather, and linden — honey can have many flavours and even more colours, ranging from amber through red, brown and even nearly black. Taste, texture and tone depend on the selection of flowers that a honeybee can find within several miles of the beehive.
Regardless of what nectar the honeybees used, all raw honey possesses antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and wound-healing properties in varying degrees. Honey contains disease-fighting antioxidants that neutralise free radicals in your body and restore the health of cells that have already been damaged (dark-coloured honeys, especially buckwheat honey, are richer in antioxidant compounds compared to the lighter ones). It is also a great energy-booster and a perfect sweetener for your morning tea that you can use instead of white sugar. It’s just the pick-me-up you need to start your day — the natural sugars are a great source of quick energy, but they also help in sustaining optimal blood sugar concentration for longer compared to, for example, carbonated energy drinks.
Honey in honeycombs
Discovering the world of honey varieties can be the sweetest adventure and a great experience of its own. Each floral variety has different properties. Linden honey (my personal favourite) is appreciated for its antiseptic properties and used to treat flus, colds and coughs; its incredible flowery aroma will calm your nerves after a long working day. Acacia honey is prized for its anti-inflammatory properties — it cleanses the liver and regulates digestion, whereas heather honey has an earthy, bitter strong taste and soothes infections of the urinary system.
Although honey is a true super-food and wholesome and natural nutrition, pay attention! Do not feed it to infants, as honey can contain spores which could cause infant botulism, a serious infection in infants. You should avoid honey yourself if you’re allergic to bee products or to pollen.
How to start your honey trail
To get the most from your honey, my advice would be to choose organic honey from local beekeepers. Buying local helps small apiaries breeding bees that are helpful to the environment you live in. Moreover, it’s easier to check that what you buy is actually honey. Try to find an apiary closest to your neighbourhood, but if you buy honey from the shop, check the information on the label. Honey sold in the EU must include the country of origin of the honey. Another valuable piece of information you might get from the jar is the floral origin of honey. You can choose the exact variety you want, whether it’s linden or buckwheat or clover or any other one you like.
Don’t worry about storing honey. Thanks to its high sugar content, its shelf life is practically indefinite. Just follow few simple rules: keep your honey in a tightly closed glass container (honey easily absorbs moisture from the air), and keep it away from sunlight or any heat sources. You can keep honey in the fridge, but it’s really not necessary. In fact, it may be a bit easier to handle it when you keep it in the cupboard. Honey may crystallise when stored for a longer period and become thick and cloudy, but it’s a natural process and you shouldn’t be worried about it.
Being healthy has never been sweeter
Obviously, you cannot substitute professional medical care with honey, but it’s definitely worth always keeping a jar in your pantry. Here are some of my favourite honey recipes. All tested by me, my family and friends. Enjoy and be beautiful and healthy!
Energising mixture — honey water
Start your morning with drinking a cup of ‘honey water’. Dissolve one teaspoon of honey in 180 ml of lukewarm natural mineral water (the water should not exceed 40°C; otherwise you will lose most of honey’s properties), cover and leave it overnight. Why dilute the honey with water? When combined with oxygen the bacteria-killing properties of honey increase two-fold. The honey water is a natural energy drink and real energy booster so you can cut down on your morning caffeine. It also detoxifies the body by improving your metabolism and adds moisture to your body and stomach.
Remedy for ailing throat
Mix 200g liquid honey (preferably linden honey, as it’s known for its strong antibacterial qualities, but any other kind of honey would do as well) add 200g of finely chopped onion and half a head of crushed garlic. Mix well, put into a jar, press it down, seal and leave overnight in a warm place. Strain the onions and the garlic out in the morning and store the remaining syrup in a fridge. Take a tablespoon several times a day with persistent, dry cough or inflammation of the throat.
Hydrating and strengthening hair mask
Mix 3 spoons of lukewarm olive oil with 100g of honey. Apply the hair mask from root of your hair and the whole length of hair. Wrap your hair with cling film (plastic wrap) and a towel to keep the warmth of the mask and leave for half an hour. After this time, wash your hair and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Try this treatment once or twice a month and your dry hair will recover it gorgeous shine and supple silkiness.
Cleansing honey and almond facial scrub
Place one tablespoon of oatmeal and one tablespoon of almond meal in a blender. Mix your ingredients up until they’re fine and crumbly. Add one tablespoon of honey (if the honey is too solid, dilute it in a tablespoon of lukewarm water) and as much of a fresh lemon juice to create thick, sticky mixture. Rinse your face before applying the scrub, then take a small amount on your hand and massage evenly over your face and neck. Wash off gently after 10 minutes with a warm washcloth, or rinse with warm water. To add a final touch, apply a moisturiser all over the scrubbed area. Apply the honey and almond scrub once a week and your face is going to love you!
Relaxing bath with salt and milk — smoothing and nourishing your skin
Fill your tub with warm water (about 38°C), add 350g of salt and dissolve it. In a bowl, mix 1 litre of warm milk and 200g of honey until the honey is dissolved. Pour liquid into the tub and stir with your hand. Immerse yourself in the bath and relax. The rest will be done for you — milk will nourish the skin whereas salt and honey will smooth and soften it, improving its structure and texture.
Disclaimer: Any information contained in this article is provided for educational purposes only. It is in no way intended to provide medical advice or to diagnose or to treat any disease or health problem. Nor should the information replace the advice of your doctor or health care practitioner. If you have a medical problem, you should promptly consult a healthcare practitioner before taking any substances for medicinal purposes.