Russia is a big country with different delicious and tasty food. Real Russian honey is a tasty and useful gift for guests of Russia.
Bee honey (МЁД) – is a food, actually, a nectar which is partially digested in the jowl of the honey bee. Honey contains 13-20% water, 75-80% of carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, sucrose), vitamins B1, B2, B6, E, K, C, carotene, provitamin A, folic acid. A special taste and aroma of honey, along with its usefulness, are the main reasons why many people prefer honey to all other sweeteners.
Color of honey depends on the type of plants from which the bees collected nectar. By color, there are three groups of honey: light, moderately colored and dark. The most valuable are lighter honeys (made of acacia, linden and etc.). The exception is of buckwheat, which is very valuable to the body. At the same time, dark types of honey are more rich in minerals.
Nutritional and therapeutic properties of honey are reduced when it is heated. The temperature that is above 50 ° C makes the greatest harm to it. Honey thus loses the bactericidal properties and flavor. The more intense and lasting is the influence of heat, the more deteriorated is the quality of honey.
According to the landscape basis honey can be divided into these groups: forest, meadow, prairie, taiga, field and mountain.
Field (Полевой) honey has various colors ranging from light amber to brown, it crystallizes quickly. It is usually of high quality, with a strong flavor and good taste. This honey is produced from coriander, sainfoin, lavender, bittercress, sow-thistle, phacelia and cultivated plants – sunflower, colza, buckwheat, alfalfa, mustard.
Meadow (Луговой) honey has many shades from light yellow to light brown, has a very fragrant bouquet and pleasant taste. It is produced from the nectar of meadow flowers: dandelion, thyme, white clover, sow-thistle, wild mallow, hypericum, cow-parsnip, sweet clover, meadow cornflower, sage, chicory, motherwort, thistle and many other honey plants growing in meadows.
It is characterized by high nutritional and medicinal qualities.
Forest (Лесной) honey also has a lot of different shades, from light yellow to dark brown. Compared with the meadow and field it is always darker. It is not worse the meadow or field honey in taste.
Bees produce it from wild honey plants: wild fruit trees – wild rose, hawthorn, Tatarian maple, viburnum, willow, linden and other plants – raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, fireweed, heather. The most demanded forest honey is produced from spring honey plants (rowan, willow, fruit trees, acacia, raspberry, blueberry).
Prairie (Степной) honey – honey that is collected in the prairie plains of the Altai Territory. This type of honey is considered to be a classic Russian honey. It is collected by bees from various plants, mostly plants that bloom in the prairie – sage, clover, sweet clover, fireweed, sow thistle, thistle, dandelion, bittercress, motherwort, buckwheat, cornflower and many other honey plants. Has an unusually rich, reddish-amber color. Taste is rich, herbal, there is a little bitterness.
Taiga (Таёжный) honey – honey that is collected from wild honey plants of taiga-forest zone. Spring honey plants are: Lungwort, coltsfoot, yellow acacia, etc. Summer honey plants are: oregano, fireweed, sow thistle forest, motherwort, strawberries steppe, etc.
Taiga honey has a specific, distinct taste and strong medicinal properties. This honey is considered to be one of the most high-quality varieties. Has a dark brown color and an amazing rich aroma of taiga expanses.
Mountain (Горный) honey. According to various information sources, mountain honey that is collected in alpine meadows at an altitude of over 1,000 meters is considered to be the most valuable among polyfloral types of honey.
Single-flora honey tend to have the smell of the plants from which they are collected and have a refined, subtle, spicy flavors. The pure single-flora honeys actually do not exist, so you can only talk about the prevalence of a specific component.
Acacia (Акациевый) honey. Stands among the best varieties. It is widely popular because of its taste, and it is also widely used in folk medicine. Honey of white acacia is characterized by delicate aroma and pleasant taste. Fresh honey has a light transparent color. It crystallizes very slowly getting milky-white color; honey can remain long as a syrup. It is the most liquid among all types of honey .
Barberry (Барбарисовый) honey. Has a golden – yellow color, pleasant aroma and delicate sweetness.
Cornflower (Васильковый) honey. Honey bees collect it from blue or field cornflower. This honey has a pleasant taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste, it is of is greenish – yellow color. Its smell can remind you almonds. It has not only good taste, but also healing properties.
Buckwheat (Гречишный) honey. Has a high content of proteins, minerals, very strong specific pleasant aroma and taste. Its color is light – brown with a reddish tinge. Excellent food and medical product.
Sweet Clover (Донниковый) honey. It possesses high gustatory qualities. Its color is different from light amber to white with a greenish tint. Has a specific taste, sometimes slightly bitter, and specific aroma reminiscent of the smell of vanilla. Crystallizes to a form of grained solid mass .
Chestnut (Каштановый) honey. It is collected by bees from flowers of horse and edible chestnut. Honey that is collected from horse chestnut, is colorless, watery, the one that is collected from edible chestnut is dark, very liquid. In general, any type of chestnut honey has a slight scent of chestnut and bitter taste. It crystallizes slowly gaining the look of of oil, after that the crystals appear. Has valuable antimicrobial properties.
According to its properties belongs to the category of low-grade honey.
Clover (Клеверный) honey. Colorless, almost transparent, with a high gustatory quality, one of the best among light honeys. At crystallization turns into a fine-grained solid white mass. Is characterized by low natural diastaznym number (less than 10 units Gotha).
Linden (Липовый) honey – the most high quality type of honey. It has a pleasant aroma of linden, pale – yellow color. Quickly crystallizes into small crystals, has white afterwards. Has a high specific taste.
Honey from bee plant burdock (Лопуховый). Has a high pleasant scent, very malleable, fragrant and delicious. He has a light – yellow with a dark – olive hue.
Alfalfa (Люцерновый) honey. Bees collect it from the purple or violet alfalfa flowers. Honey that is freshly pumped out has various shades – from pale light to amber, it crystallizes quickly getting white color and consistency of heavy cream. This honey has a pleasant aroma and specific taste.
Raspberry (Малиновый) honey. This honey is collected from forest clearings, covered with raspberries. Raspberry honey is light in color, has very pleasant aroma, tastes wonderful.
Mint (Мятный) honey. Bees make it from the nectar of flowers of spicy plants – peppermint, so honey has such a pleasant aroma. Peppermint is widely cultivated and gives plentiful gathering of qualitative honey. Mint honey is of amber color, contains large amounts of vitamin C. It crystallizes with fine grains of light – yellow color.
Dandelion (Одуванчиковый) honey. Has a golden – yellow color. It is a very thick, viscous, fast crystallizing honey with a strong smell and strong taste. Bees make it from the nectar of the well-known and widespread dandelion.
Sunflower (Подсолнечниковый) honey. Has a distinctive taste, but a subtle aroma. When has a liquid form its color is light – brown. Crystallizes very quickly, its crystals are large, has a yellow color afterwards.
Honey made of the motherwort flowers (Пустырниковый). Bees collect it from the pale – purple flowers of motherwort, or cardiac herbs grown on wasteland. Honey has a light – golden, straw color, with a light aroma and specific good taste.
Rowanberry (Рябиновый) honey. Rowanberry honey has a reddish color, strong flavor and good taste. Bees make honey from the nectar of the blossoming rowan.
Beeswax – the second most important product of beekeeping. Natural wax which composes honeycombs possesses therapeutic properties on its own. And in combination with honey all these valuable properties are dehiscing even more. Such type of a honey should be eaten by small pieces, with long and carefully chewing (as chewing gum).
Purchase of honey
I advise you to buy honey in specialized stores. As for me, I do not buy honey at all (I have no particular desire), but for foreign friends and acquaintances I buy Medovukha (=mead, a product of honey) in the Beekeepers’ chain shops called “Пчёлкин мёд”. Based on the information of the references you can buy there the most popular and famous Russian honey according to honey bee plant species (check the list below):
- Acacia honey (акациевый)
- buckwheat honey (гречишный)
- Sweet Clover honey (донниковый)
- willow honey (ивовый)
- chestnut honey (каштановый)
- fireweed honey (кипрейный)
- maple honey (клёновый)
- cranberry honey (клюквенный)
- coriander honey (кориандровый)
- linden honey (липовый)
- burdock honey (лопуховый)
- alfalfa honey (люцерновый)
- honey of camel thorn (с верблюжьей колючки)
- Euphorbiaceae honey (молочайный)
- carrot honey (морковный)
- mint honey (мятный)
- cucumber honey (огуречный)
- dandelion honey (одуванчиковый)
- sow-thistle honey (осотовый)
- honey from valleys (падевый)
- Sunflower honey (подсолнечниковый)
- motherwort honey (пустырниковый)
- rapeseed honey (рапсовый)
- Resedaceae honey (резедовый)
- rowanberry honey (рябиновый)
- honey of bittercress (сурепковый)
By the way, you can buy a stylized jar of honey (usually the shops offer chkockloma styled jars or made of beresta). Once i bought such a jar as a present, its recipient loved both the package and the honey.
Advice on buying real honey:
- The best way to buy honey is to go to a specialised shop. If you are at the trade fair (a usual situation in St. Petersburg), you can follow my advice written below;
- If you are going to buy specific type of honey, you should read some information about it in advance. Any specific type of honey has its own flavour and color;
- If honey is very pale, close to white, it may me not natural, made of sugar. If the flavor is not clear enough and you feel a taste of caramel, it is one of the signs of fake honey;
- Also pay attention to the consistency of honey – it must match the density of the class, at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius is enveloped around the spoon, like a ribbon, sweet threads, interrupted at some point;
- Beware acquiring honey from apiaries located along road routes with heavy traffic. This honey may have an increased amount of lead compounds and other substances that fall on the flowers with car exhaust fumes. With nectar and pollen lead gets into the honey, and it is dangerous to the health of those who eat it.
How can you determine the quality of honey?
1) By color
- Each variety of honey has its own certain color. Flower honey is usually of light yellow color, linden – of amber color, Ashenvale – transparent as water, buckwheat has different shades of brown. Pure honey (without impurities) is usually transparent, whatever the color may be.
- Honey, having in its composition additives (sugar, starch, and other impurities), is unclear, and if you look closely, it is possible to find sediment.
2) By flavor
- Honey is usually characterized by fragrant aroma. Honey with an admixture of sugar has no flavor, and the taste is close to the taste of sugar water.
How else can you distinguish a fake?
- Over time, the honey becomes turbid and gets denser (candied) – that is a sure sign of good quality. Some may mistakenly believe that honey is spoiled.
- Sometimes during storage honey is split into two layers: it gets denser from below and remains liquid from above. This indicates that the honey is verdant and therefore it should be eaten as soon as possible – it may be stored for a few months.
Медовуха (Medovukha=Russian mead)
Медовуха – a special drink of honey, water, hops or yeast, which also may have additional ingredients such as spices, berries.
May be as low alcohol beverage (without addition of ethanol. Mead Strength – from 5 to 16%.) as well as strongly alcoholic (with addition of ethanol).
The most famous traditions of making this drink are preserved in Suzdal and Novgorod the Great. Beverage is characterized by an expressing honey flavor and aroma, lightness and sweetness of taste (because of the high content of fructose and glucose in honey and a large amount of honey in the drink).
When I want to treat foreign guests with this Russian beverage (with low alcohol amount), I buy Медовуха in the apiculture chain «Пчёлкин мёд». Recently I have tried the beverage in a Russian fast-food chain «Теремке» -the taste was right.