The Secrets of Honey
Which honey varieties are collected in the autumn and what are their secrets?
Honey is a well-known superfood, which should be included in our daily nutrition. It has been used throughout the ages, from the days when it was the only available sweetener.
Asterios Avramidis, a third-generation beekeeper, spoke to A Magic Cabinet about this nutritional treasure. Asterios produces raw honey directly from the beehive, keeping the flavour and nutritional content intact and bringing all the aroma straight to our table.
There are many types of honey, depending on which plant the bees choose as their food source. Autumn is the season when flower, heather and oak honey are harvested.
Heather honey is produced in many parts of Greece, including the Peloponnese, the cycladic island of Kimolos and Chalkidiki, where the Mount Athos variety is the most famous. It has a very particular taste and has only recently become popular in Greece.
Flower honey, on the other hand, has a mild flavour, which is why it is more widely known. “It goes well with most food and that’s why it’s so often used in cooking”, Asterios explains.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about manuka honey as it supposedly fights bacterial infections and aids both digestion and oral health. This widely promoted honey is produced from wild manuka flowers in the forests of New Zealand.
Yet Asterios believes that oak honey is a much stronger anti-oxidant. He bases his claims on research undertaken by Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, which proved that oak honey has the highest anti-oxidant qualities, followed by fir, heather, chestnut and pine honey.
Oak honey is usually dark, with a rich, intense flavour and is not particularly sweet.
Chestnut honey has a very distinct, sour flavour which leaves a burning aftertaste. It has a dark purple colour and it doesn’t crystalise when it is cold. It has high anti-oxidant qualities and is harvested in Northern Greece, in areas such as Mount Athos, Northern Chalkidiki and Edessa.
Asterios has chosen the Mount Athos region where there are only chestnut trees and the likelihood of bees selecting another tree or plant are very slim.
There is a very simple way to check whether honey is pure. “You add a spoonful of honey into a glass of warm water. If it sinks to the bottom, then you know it’s been mixed with something else”.