All over the world, there are hundreds of different varieties of honey, each type with a unique colour, taste, and consistency. You may be the most familiar with honey that you would often see on supermarket shelves, which is not always the highest-quality of honey available. So, what are the types of honey that are of the highest quality?
Standard shop-bought honey tends to have been processed and mixed with additives to supply larger quantities. Types of honey such as Manuka, Sidr, Sourwood and Acacia are of a much higher quality and are full of nutrients, have full-bodied flavour, but are slightly more expensive than your average processed honey.
Read on to find out more about which types of honey are the highest quality.
What is the most superior quality honey?
There are quite literally hundreds of varieties and flavours of honey, each with their own set of properties and characteristics. Below are some of the highest quality types of honey that money can buy.
A very rare and luxurious honey that is produced in Yemen as well as other areas in the Mediterranean, North Africa and Asia. Sidr honey is made from the nectar of the Sidr tree (also known as the Lote tree). Boasting a marvellous taste and aroma, raw Yemeni Sidr honey is one of the most famous varieties of Sidr honey, and provides numerous health benefits for those that consume it.
Harvested from the blooms of Manuka trees found in New Zealand, Manuka honey is also extremely rare due to the fact that Manuka trees only bloom for a few weeks every year. Packed with antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits, Manuka is described as being a strong flavoured honey with a thick and creamy texture.
Originating from the blossoms of an Acacia tree in the Appalachian Mountains, Sourwood honey can be harvested from these trees every August all over Europe, and parts of the US. Sourwood honey is described as having a deep and rich flavour.
Often said to be one of the lightest and clearest honeys in the world, Acacia honey is produced by the pollination of the black locust tree. With a flower-like aroma, and a sweet and delicate flavour, Acacia honey crystallises at a far slower rate than other honeys, and is extremely popular.
What is pasteurised honey?
In recent years, due to the decreasing population and activity of honeybees, the value of craft honey has increased massively. While there are still vast quantities of pasteurised honey being produced around the world to satisfy global demand, craft honey is produced in shorter quantities. Due to this large-scale production, pasteurised honey tends to be of a far lower quality and price than craft honey. But what causes this difference in quality?
When you purchase honey from the supermarket, it is likely to have gone through a process of pasteurisation. During this process, the honey is heated to delay crystallisation and create a smoother consistency, but simultaneously destroys many of the enzymes in honey that give it it's healing properties.
While raw honey is often more expensive than pasteurised honey, it is far healthier than store-bought honey. There are a number of benefits to choosing raw honey as opposed to processed honey, such as improved sleep quality, psychological benefits, and improved gut health.
Honey you might see in a supermarket
When purchasing honey, it is important to check the labels for certain words or phrases that indicate the quality of honey you are buying. A honey that is free from any processing or additives will simply be labelled as ‘honey’, without any other ingredients. Here are some labels that you might come across:
- ‘Organic’ - this indicates that the honey has been tested and is found to be free from pesticides or environmental pollution, however may still have been pasteurised.
- ‘Natural’ - honeys that are labelled ‘natural’ or ‘pure’ should be free from any additives however may still have still been processed to prevent crystallisation.
- ‘Honey Product’ - this suggests that the honey has been watered down with sugar or corn syrup.
Several investigations by the EU have discovered that the majority of honey sold in UK supermarkets has been adulterated with sugar syrup, despite containing wording such as “pure” and “natural”. These products are often a blend of honeys from around the world, making it impossible for the customer to identify where a jar of honey actually came from. When looking to purchase the highest quality honey, Make sure to look out for words such as “raw” and “unpasteurised” which indicate that the honey has not been heat treated or contaminated with any sugar syrup. Also keep an eye out for the “country of origin” which should be clearly visible on jars of “single-origin” honey.