It's been harvested for 8,000 years, and its natural properties make it antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-carcinogenic, yet there are still a lot people who don’t know about this nectar of the gods… so we went out and got some answers.
In the first part of the series, we set out to debunk the misconceptions about ‘pure’ honey. Now, Project Leader Jeanette Borg, dishes the facts about crystallisation and the process needed to ensure your honey is pure.
How do I know if the honey I’m buying is pure?
“Well, the only way to be 100 per cent sure is through expensive and extensive laboratory tests. These check for water, sugar and protein content, and will detect whether the honey is adulterated or not.
“What do the results show? Well, for instance, pure honey contains around 17.1g of water per 100g. If the test results show that water content is a lot more, or a lot less, it means that there’s something wrong.
“Another important test to figure out if the honey at hand is local or not, is a pollen analysis for the characterisation of botanical origin. If pollen from a plant species that doesn’t grow in Malta is found, then that means that the honey is not Maltese and thus not local.
“Obviously, like all the other products we consume, we, as consumers, need to decide whether we trust the brand or not. At Merill, we have teamed up with several beekeepers that supply us with the purest and most authentic honey possible. We know these beekeepers personally and work hand in hand with them.
“Nevertheless, we understand that you can’t always take someone’s word as fact, so we explore different kinds of chemical testing to ensure that our product is always 100 per cent genuine.”
My honey’s crystallised. Is it bad?
“I love this question, but let’s start from the very basics: Even the purest of honeys can, and most probably will, crystallise – and that’s okay!
“There are many variables that affect the process of crystallisation in layers or in its totality, and these include the climate, the flora on which the bees have foraged, and whether the jar contains different kinds of honey (i.e. created by bees from different flora) mixed together.
“While many of the people we meet frown when they see crystallised or solid honey, we can assure you that if you had to buy pure honey from Sicily or other countries with similar climates, the chances are that it would come in a crystallised form too.
“Unfortunately, it is never a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer with this question, but what you should keep in mind is that honey that never crystallises is most probably syrup (so sugar, rather than pure honey).”
Is dark honey ‘pure’?
“Not only does the colour of natural honey range from white to dark amber, but studies have shown that the darker the honey, the higher its antioxidant capacity!
“Therefore, yes, dark honey can be pure too.”
Do you have any other questions about the honey you’re buying or the products we sell? Then feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 2141 1388.
Interviewed by Iggy Fenech