Chestnut honey that is widely found in the months of May to July in Italy is a dark colored honey with mild spicy flavor. Italians include it most of their fall cooking dishes. Of the various varieties of chestnut such as the sweet chestnut, American chestnut and the Allegheny Chinkapin only sweet chestnut and Japanese chestnut serve as nectar source for this honey. Various festivals celebrated during autumn in Italy is the best time to taste different varieties of this unique honey as well various dishes made using chestnuts and honey derived from it.
Properties of Chestnut Honey
1. Contains high proportion of fructose and hence does not get crystallized very easily.
2. Slightly acidic in nature.
3. Dark colored honey that can be between dark yellow to black. Can also be amber colored some times.
4. Unique aromatic flavor and leaves a bitter after taste.
5. Posses high amounts of minerals, pollen and tannins.
6. Herbal aroma with slight tannic smell due to presence of tannins.
Chestnut honey flavor varies with the region
Very unique flavor with touches of leather and smoke and spicy makes it the preferred honey variety. However, honey derived from various parts of Italy does not have the same flavor. Variety of the chestnut tree, natural climate, honey bees moving among the blossoms of chestnut tree and the processing done to the honey after extraction determine the flavor. Dark colored honey varieties have a bitter taste. During the summer season honey bees are less distracted by other blossoms and collect nectar solely from chestnut blossoms. Presence of varied amounts of oxidants also contributes to the varied flavor.
Health Benefits of Chestnut honey
- Prevents aging: High amounts of antioxidants help in removal of free radicals and thereby protect the body from aging affects. Hence, regular consumption of Italian honeys help to look young.
- Relieves fatigue: High amounts of fructose serves as good source of energy. Hence, a spoon of chestnut honey helps to relieve fatigue immediately.
- Used in cooking: This Italian honey with slight bitter taste is the best sugar substitute in cooking various sweet dishes for people who do not like sweet taste.
- Treats acne : Antibacterial action of this honey makes it ideal for treating acne. Use the honey directly as a face mask or mix it with oat meal to reduce inflammation and for exfoliation of the skin.
- High amounts of minerals such as Iron, vitamins B and Vitamin C and antioxidants present in this Italian honey support various body functions such as strengthening muscles, improving blood circulation, boosts the functioning of immune system and even improves the functioning of organs such as liver and stomach.
Using Chestnut Honey
Like other honey varieties chestnut honey can also be used to flavor the baked products such as cakes, cookies and tarts. Slight drizzling of the honey over ice cream adds extra flavor especially those with hazelnut flavor. It can also be added to tea, milk, salads, marinade and also as a spread on your toast. Toasted semolina bread with butter and this slightly spicy honey tastes excellent. Have it along with aged cheeses such as Ricotta and Stracchino or with freshly cooked meat.
Recipes using Chestnut honey
Roasted pears with Parmigiano and Chestnut honey : Place pears in a pan large enough to just hold them. Now pour required amounts of sugar and wine in the pan and place it in the oven. Let it cook until it becomes soft. Now, serve them after cooling by drizzling with chestnut honey, red wine and Parmigiano.
Walnut cake with Italian honey : Mix required amounts of butter, sugar until they become fluffy. Now, add honey, eggs and flour gradually. Mix them thoroughly for about forty minutes or until the cake tester gets out of the flour mix clean. Pour the contents in to the pan along with cored or diced pear and nuts. Cook it in oven at a temperature of 350 degrees. After the flour gets baked remove the pan, cool it and serve by drizzling with honey.
Purchasing Chestnut honey
As it is widely produced only in Italy one should be very careful while choosing the supplier. Choose local Italian brands to get genuine honey. If you are ordering online know about the supplier before ordering
Chestnut honey, one of the best varieties of Italian honey offering numerous health benefits should be consumed every day to remain young for a long time. Being a rich source of fructose and minerals it even helps to relieve fatigue. Have a spoon of it in the afternoon when you feel tired and continue to work energetically rest of the day. If you do not like to take the honey as such due to slight bitter taste have it with ice cream or use it while baking cakes and pastries.