Honey


Honey -

Is the sucrose secreted by the glands of flowers, extracted by the proboscides of the working bees and inverted in their crops or honey bags into invert sugar or dextrose and Levulose sugars (see article on GLUCOSE). At the hive, the bee disgorges his burden into the cells of the comb as a reserve supply of food for the colony. As thus at first deposited the honey is a thin liquid - it attains its later syrupy consistence by evaporation.

A hive of fifty to seventy-five thousand bees will yield an average of about one pound of honey daily during the season, the quantity rising to two to three pounds a day at the height of the season. If left to their own devices, the bees begin their annual work by building the combs, the process taking about half their time. After many failures, bee-keepers have found that they can supply thin transparent layers of pure wax stamped into foundations for the cells in such a way as to be acceptable to the bees, who complete the cell portion much more quickly and proceed sooner to actual honey gathering. Man can make more foundation in a minute than the bees in a dozen hives could draw out all summer.

Comb honey is that straight from the hives. The little square or oblong frames familiar to the consumer are fitted with the comb foundation referred to, and then placed in the hives for the bees to work in. The bees not only make the honey we eat, but also put it up in packages for us!

Virgin honey is that which flows spontaneously from the combs. The term was formerly applied to that made by the younger bees before swarming.

Strained honey is that extracted from the combs, generally by centrifugal process - the rapid revolving of the combs inside mesh-cylinders causing the honey to exude. If the honey has been allowed to ripen sufficiently in the hives, or is properly evaporated after extraction, "strained honey" compares favorably in flavor and quality with Comb honey.

Candied honey, as marketed, is strained honey evaporated to solidity. It is a confection classed with Maple sugar, etc.

Ninety per cent. of the honey consumed is sent to market extracted or "strained." It is shipped in cans which hold five gallons, or sixty pounds, two cans making a case.

Comb honey and the better grades of Strained honey, are sold for table use, while dark and coarse honey is used by bakers, confectioners, cracker makers and druggists. Hundreds of tons are annually consumed in the manufacture of sweet biscuits, as it has the peculiar quality of keeping them fresh and moist. The famous "honey Bread" of Germany and France, lebkuchen, pain d'épice, will keep a year or eighteen months without drying out.

honey has been employed as food from the remotest times. In moderation it is nutritious and laxative, though some dyspeptic persons find that it aggravates their symptoms. Its composition varies according to the food of the bees, their age, the season, etc. The invert sugar (dextrose and levulose) ranges from 60% to 90%; sucrose (corresponding to "ordinary" sugar) from nothing to 10%. It was formerly adulterated to a considerable extent by the addition of commercial invert sugar and commercial glucose, but the presence of either of these adulterants is easily ascertained on analysis, and the enforcement of Federal and State Food Laws has practically eliminated the fraud.

The flavors of honey before blending vary as much as, or more than, those of fruits. Mountain Sage is very mild; Buckwheat is so strong as to be almost biting to the palate; Basswood has a pronounced mint taste; White Clover is milder than Basswood and stronger than Mountain Sage; Alfalfa resembles White Clover, with usually a slight mint taste. The wild honey of Cuba, Mexico, etc., is generally highly aromatic.

The comparative merits of honey flavors is largely a matter of individual taste. In the East, to describe any honey as "equal to White Clover" is to style it as equal to the very finest, yet many judges and all Western consumers consider Alfalfa superior to White Clover.

Other points for judgment are color and density. In this country, light colored or "white" honey is generally considered the best, but the rule does not hold good everywhere as the famous Scotch "Heather honey" is as dark in color as our Buckwheat - which is in most sections rated as a decidedly inferior product.

The greater part of our present supply consists of Alfalfa honey, from the alfalfa regions of the Western States, where bee-keeping is conducted on a large scale, the product amounting to an annual value of several million dollars.

Southern California honey comes chiefly from Sage and Sumach blossoms, excepting in the San Joaquin Valley, where the bee-keepers depend principally upon the Alfalfa flower. Texas furnishes large quantities of Mesquite, Guajilla (pronounced wah-he-lia), Catclaw and Horsemint honey; the Eastern States, north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, principally Clover and Basswood, and the States south of the Ohio, Tupelo, Mangrove and a good deal of Clover.

In all of the honey States, white honey is produced in greater or less quantities, but it is usually mixed with other honeys, so the flavor cannot be distinguished. In Utah, Colorado and parts of Nevada and Idaho we get a pure White Clover without any other flavor being added, but only a few carloads are produced.

England and Northern Europe generally, produce a honey similar to the Scotch Heather, but of lesser quality. Narbonne honey, from the vicinity of Narbonne, France, is similar to our White Clover. Rosemary honey is also very popular in Southern Europe, and the famed honey of Mt. Hymettus, Greece, is from Wild Thyme. "Poisonous honey" is found near Trebizond, in Asia, its toxic effects being due to the bees having collected it from a poisonous plant.

honey should always be stored where it is dry and warm - almost hot. It will not be too warm with the temperature at 100° Fahr. If one is fortunate enough to have a dry warm garret next to the roof, no better place for storing it can be found. Where salt will keep dry, honey is safe.

A cellar is one of the very worst places that can be found for storing honey. There are few cellars in which the air is not somewhat damp, and honey attracts moisture very readily. Strained honey will become thin and will often ferment. Comb honey will lose all of its attractiveness - the beautiful white surface becomes watery and darkened and drops of water gather on the cappings and run over the surface.

If honey, particularly Strained honey, is kept for a great length of time, especially during cold weather, it is apt to change from its original liquid or semi-liquid consistence to a semi-granular condition. It is then called "granulated" or "candied" honey, and the flavor is somewhat changed. Some people prefer it in this condition, but it is not, as a rule, so readily salable. The tendency to "candy" is, however, fairly good proof of purity.


Arround Honey in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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