Heather Honey

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 Honey derived from Calluna vulgaris commonly known as Ling Heather is the source for Heather honey. This is a very short plant that flowers in late summer months. Hence, it becomes nectar source for bees starving due to lack of other blossoms in summer. Ling heather that is native to Europe grows in dry acidic soils. Honey derived from Ling heather has a very unique property of becoming liquid only when stirred or agitated.

Properties of Heather Honey

  • Dark amber colored honey with reddish orange tinge.
  • Slightly bitter taste with a mix of tangy, smoky, pungent taste. Leaves a mildly bitter after taste that lingers in your mouth for a long time.
  • Smells similar to the heather flowers that have a characteristic woody, warm, floral fresh fruit aroma.
  • Does not crystallize at all.
  • Contains high amount of moisture that is about 25% which is quite higher than other honey varieties. Despite of presence of high water content it resists fermentation as the gel like consistency traps water.
  • Contains high amounts of minerals and proteins. 

Benefits of Heather Honey

  • The antiseptic property supports faster healing of wounds like the Buckwheat honey. It is even said to treat malignant tumors. Enzymes such as glucose oxidase present in raw honey are responsible for secretion of compounds such as gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide that exert antiseptic action.
  • Improves the process of digestion .
  • Sugars present in it serve as good source of energy. Taking of a spoon of honey will help to relieve fatigue immediately.
  • Contains high amount of antioxidants : High amount of antioxidants present in Heather honey help in removal of free radicals produced as a result of metabolic reactions and interactions with external pollutants. Removal of these free radicals prevents aging and also improves the overall health.

heather honey

Types of Heather Honey

Apart from the pure honey obtained from Ling heather there are other varieties of honey obtained from Erica species that too belongs to the heather family. These are generally multifloral honeys derived from plants such blueberries, rhododendrons, strawberry, cranberries and even the ling heather. Varieties of this Erica heather honey include

White Erica honey : This honey derived from Erica arborea is harvested in the month of May in Spain, France, Italy and North Africa. It is dark colored with hues of orange and turns light brown upon crystallization. It has got a sweet caramel aroma. Honey from white heather has strong taste that is sweet and slightly bitter. It also has a mix of cocoa and caramel flavors. It gets crystallized fast in to crystals with smooth texture. To enjoy its sharp taste it should be taken with mildly flavored foods.

Bell Heather honey : This honey derived Erica cinerrea is harvested in the end of August in Europe, Germany, Norway, Italy and Portugal. Honey derived from Bell heather is dark brown in color and gets crystallized gradually. It has got a strong smell and has tastes woody, minty and slightly bitter.

Snow Heather honey : Snow heather is the source for amber colored honey that turns yellow upon crystallization. It is mainly found in Central Europe and blooms in the months of January to April.  Honey from snow heather has a strong pungent aroma with a mix of caramel, flowers and dry fruits. It also has got a mixed taste that is minty, fruity with caramel touches.

Autumn Heather honey : It is derived from the plant Erica Manipuliflora. Honey from autumn heather is dark in color that gets lighter upon crystallization after two to three months of harvesting. It contains high amounts of trace minerals and is mildly sweet in taste. High amount of pollen present in this Erica honey make it a best remedy for hay fever and prostrate infections.

Test for purity of Heather honey

  • Pour honey in a glass and tilt to a side. The slower the honey flows out of the glass greater is the purity. The longer it remains intact in the glass without moving purer is the honey.
  • Presence of small air bubbles trapped in the jelly like honey.
  • Should have a very dark appearance.

Extraction of gel like honey

The gel like nature of this honey makes it hard to extract by simple pressing of the comb. For easy extraction each cell of the comb is stirred with a plastic needle so as to convert the gel in to liquid temporarily for easy extraction. This is accomplished by placing the comb in a plate with hundreds of needles.

Using heather honey

The strong unique flavor and consistency of heather honey makes delicious dishes. It tastes perfectly good with Greek yogurt or with ice creams. It was also once used in the making of alcoholic beverages such as Mead. The popular Scottish liquor Drambuie uses Heather honey as one of its contents in addition to malt whiskey, spices and herbs. 

Recommendation

Each of these various varieties of Heather honey offering different benefits are rarely found and tastes good with cheese, yoghurt and meats. Being rich in antioxidants they help to keep you young for long time. Hence, take a spoon of it early in the morning to remain healthy, young and to fight infections efficiently.