Jan 2, 2013

The Lowdown on Raw Manuka Honey

Honey is a natural product produced by a special type of bee and there are many different kinds. There are also many versions of honey itself, with raw honey being one. When consumers shop for honey online and in brick-and-mortar stores, they discover a wide selection. Raw manuka honey is one type they are encountering more frequently.

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How Manuka Honey Is Made

Honey is made when bees collect nectar from flowers, which mixes with enzymes in their saliva, and becomes the sticky substance we enjoy on bread and in our tea. In the case of manuka honey, it is created by honeybees that enjoy flowers of the tea tree, which is native to New Zealand and southeastern Australia. Bees have two stomachs and when full, the one that holds honey weighs almost as much as a bee does.

The bee transports the nectar to its hive in its honey stomach and transfers it into the mouths of other worker bees, who then chew it, mixing it with their saliva to break the complex sugars into simple sugars. The worker bees then deposit the nectar in cells of hive walls, called honeycombs. Fluttering bee wings provide ventilation that reduces moisture content. As moisture evaporates, the nectar becomes thicker and when the bees deem the substance thick enough, they use a wax plug to seal the honeycomb cell, storing the honey for later consumption.

Processed Vs. Raw Manuka Honey

When honey is processed, many of the naturally occurring and beneficial phytonutrients are removed. Raw honey is not subject to excessive heat or processing so these substances remain in the honey for consumers to enjoy. In addition to generating hydrogen peroxide as most honey does, pure manuka honey also contains methylglyoxal, or MGO, which is a free radical phytochemical.

At some point, all honey reverts to sugar crystals of different forms. The type of flower from which the nectar was gathered determines how quickly honey will naturally convert to solid form. Some raw honeys remain liquid for a long time while others turn sold within only a few weeks. Solid honey is not bad and its quality and taste are unaffected by its changed form. To convert the honey to its liquid state, warm the jar in hot water.

Different Ways to Enjoy Pure Manuka Honey

When asked how they use raw manuka honey, people have many different responses. Many people spread it on bread, toast, bagels, biscuits, or English muffins. Some people top waffles, pancakes, or French toast with warm honey as an alternative to syrup. Others pour it over ice cream, hot cereal, or sweet potatoes. For a special treat, some people fill the core of a baked apple with honey.

Raw manuka honey can also be used in recipes for muffins, breads, cookies, pies, and cakes. It is a common ingredient in glazes for meat, fish, and poultry. Some people mix it with butter to create a honey butter spread while others combine it with peanut butter. Honey also makes a tasty fruit dip and sweetener for iced or hot tea, coffee, and even milkshakes.

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