Honey has unique place in Italian cuisines especially in Southern Italy. They use honey as a sweetener in sweets, pastries, traditional sweets such as fritters and pan forte. One can find multiple varieties of honey in Italy. If you are planning to visit Italy then include honey expedition to any of the 46 cities in Italy to taste their unique tasting honey varieties. Here is an overview of various Italian honey varieties, their labeling and benefits of Italian honey.
Types of Italian honey
Numerous varieties of honey such as Acacia, alfalfa, orange blossom honey, chestnut honey etc. can be found in Italy.
Orange Blossom honey : This honey is extracted from attractive white blossoms that generally cover the orange trees in the months of March and April. These pure white flowers attract honey bees with their huge amount of nectar. This honey is light colored honey with strong flavor that is generally a fusion of fruit and flower. Generally, the orange blossom honey often has mild flavor and taste of other citrus blossoms too. Orange honey even has a very strong fragrance. The strong flavor makes it a best addition to sweets, yogurt, as a sweetener in trees and also as spread on bread.
Acacia honey : The Acacia tree characterized by fast growth and strong ability to adapt in any soil grows well in Italy especially the Prealps region. In that region extensive growth of Acacia looks like a deep forest covering a very large area. Flowers of this acacia tree are loaded with copious amounts of honey and hence, honey bees get attracted to them very easily. It is a clear form of honey that generally exists as water irrespective of the freshness, temperature and purity. Acacia honey has mild flavor and a very delicate taste with a tint of vanilla flavor. It also has a very light fragrance.
Chestnut honey : This variety of honey is the nectar collected by bees from flowers of chestnut tree that generally bloom in the months of June and July. Blossom is a yellow cluster with strong smell, large amounts of nectar and pollen. The honey is dark in color and sticky to touch and does not get crystallized easily due to presence of large amounts of fructose. It is the preferred Italian honey by those who do not love to have sweets as this honey leaves a slight bitter aftertaste. Chestnut honey goes will with cheese and meaty dishes.
Eucalyptus honey: The eucalyptus tree blooms in the months of June to August and the unique fragrance attracts numerous honey bees. Honey from these flowers has a light amber color with a taste of caramel.
Millefiori honey : This unique honey from Tuscany has distinct flavor as it is derived from the nectar of various flowers. The Tuscan hills filled with various trees such as the apricot, cherry, almond, sunflower, apple and many other varieties of flowers form the source of nectar for honey bees. Being a complex mixture of different varieties of nectar, Millefiori honey has special color and aroma.
Benefits of Italian honey
Italian honey has all the benefits of any normal good quality honey. Some of its most important benefits are:
- Provides antioxidants : The antioxidants present in Italian honey varieties help in elimination of free radicals that are harmful to health. Elimination of free radicals slows the aging process. Hence, intake of these Italian honey varieties keeps you young.
- Rich source of calories : One of interesting benefits of Italian honey varieties such as chestnut honey is being a rich source of fructose. The high fructose content offers large amounts of calories and it is even good for diabetics as it gets absorbed completely.
- Ideal for cooking : The benefits of Italian honey in cooking vary depending on the honey variety. For example, chestnut honey with slight bitter taste can be used only by those people who do not love sweet taste. On the whole, Italian honeys can be used in baking to have smooth pastries and cakes.
Labeling of Italian honey
To avail the benefits of Italian honey it is essential to understand the labeling given on Italian honey containers. For example, Miele torchiato in the label indicates that the honey is extracted by heating and it may not offer all the benefits of Italian honey observed in raw variety. Here are few terms that you will observe on the labels.
- Miele Centrifugato – Honey that is extracted from the comb using a centrifuge.
- Miele di favo- Honey that is sold directly in comb without extraction.
- Miele de melata: Honey dew honey that is extracted from plant secretions.
- Miele di nettare: Honey produced from flower nectar.
- Miele torchiato: Honey extracted from comb by heating or by applying pressure.
Buying Genuine Italian Honey
Lastly, benefits of Italian honey can be enjoyed by choosing high quality honey with official marks of quality. High quality honey varieties contain labels such as PDO- Protected Designation of Origin, PGI- Protected Geographical Indication. With huge number of professional beekeepers you can definitely find a good variety of high quality honey in Italy.