Discover all about honey

Descobre tudo sobre o mel

God of gods. Honey is nature's gold. We're a generation of honey-lovers - but it's not just about satisfying our sweet tooth. Well-known as a natural sweetener and delicious toast spread, honey also has a wide range of unique and incredibly powerful healing properties, is rich in antioxidants, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and acts as a prebiotic.

The best honey in Portugal

History of honey and how it was used

The use of honey as well as the beginning of its use is lost in time, however, the portraits of the predilection for this food already in images and cave paintings are notorious.

The origin of honey exploration is also unknown, but the oldest evidence goes back between 8,000 and 2,000 years before Christ. These fall mainly in Africa and China, where the first evidence of honey and wax collection was found, in fragments of terracotta pots (Nigeria) in 1500 BC. In a very elementary way, the bowls were placed around the trees, in their branches, in the expectation that the bees would make their home there.

Honey was of paramount importance, not only because of its sweet taste for making food and drinks (and sweet foods were scarce at this time), but also as a medicinal ointment and as a food preserver due to its antiseptic quality. And there are some examples that come to us, as in Kenya it was used as an aid in the preservation of smoked game meat, the application of this fantastic ingredient conferred a better preservation, increasing the longevity of storage by a few years.

But perhaps the most extensive and important account of the application and use of honey comes from Egypt, where honey pots dating back approximately 3,000 years have been found in sarcophagi. Honey was extremely important to this people who believed in life after death. They would take the most precious goods to their final rest, thinking those would be useful in their passage to the new life. Its cuniform form of expression helps us to understand the paramount importance of this ingredient at the time when representing ancient beekeeping in sarcophagi.

However, honey was not only a treasure and food that had to be taken to the afterlife, its use was wide. As a gift for the gods, as a sweetening ingredient for food and drinks, medicine and ointment for treating illnesses and wounds, and one of the ingredients used in embalming, as the medicinal papyri of the time refer.

In the Roman and Greek Empires the use of honey was common, present since always in the offerings to the gods. Where in the Iliad it is described as the abode of the gods, since nectar meant victory over death. Being that by allusion to the honey drink a gift coming from the land of God collected by his messengers, the bees. Used as a medicinal element, and for the first time studied for this purpose. Also used as a beauty treatment and well-known doping for athletes, but widely used in the preparation of drinks, such as mead and, at the time, the most common melikraton. Drink made from honey, water and some herbs, which was offered by the wife after a long day of work, to restore her strength.

At the same time, but with the same purpose, the Celtic people recommended that newlyweds should consume mead in the first lunar cycle in order to be blessed with a male child. The term honeymoon comes from this tradition.

Later, in the Middle Age, the reports that come to us come from the logbooks of Portuguese navigators and the curious use by the African people as a basic element present in the fermentation of alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer and the elaboration of wine made with honey. Honey was also used in all kinds of sweet and savory dishes, and with the proliferation of spices from the East, dishes were then an authentic explosion of flavor.

With the renaissance in Italy, comes the recognition of the authentic flavor of food in its fresh state, and the assertive hand dosage of seasonings and flavors. But it is only with the reign of Louis XIV in France that we can say that the concept of cuisine and the segmentation of dishes was born, giving birth to a whole new world of desserts, since this king was in love with sweet flavors. Honey is no longer an ingredient for preservation and fermentation and is now used as an integral element in desserts and sauces.

How is honey produced?

Honey production in Portugal

Honey is the only food produced by an insect and consumed by humans. It is extremely complete, containing all the substances necessary for human sustainability, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and a small amount of water. It is the only food that contains the component “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant that improves brain function.

Interestingly, a honey bee, in its lifetime, produces the equivalent of 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey.

It has 80-95% sugars and 20% water. Usually found in a viscous and sugary liquid state, it is produced by honeybees from the nectar collected from flowers and processed by the digestive enzymes of these insects, being stored in combs in their hives to serve as food during the winter.

Honey is a sugar, and sugars are hygroscopic. This means it has a small quantity water, but can absorb moisture if exposed.

To produce a kilo of honey, bees “visit” about five million flowers. Depending on the time of year and the region, different species are visited.

The properties of honey

Honey is popularly known as a natural antibiotic, being able to inhibit 60 types of bacteria. It has been used since ancient times as a medicine for the treatment of diseases and as a healing agent. It is rich in antioxidants, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and acts as a prebiotic, helping to feed the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system to keep your gut healthy. These characteristics are due to their physical and chemical characteristics. The main antibacterial agent in honey is hydrogen peroxide, which is enzymatically produced by bees when converting nectar into glucose oxidase. The higher the level of glucose oxidase, the greater the amount of hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide) which gives it antiseptic properties.

Is honey a vegan product? Honey is an animal product, so it's not strictly vegan. The health and well-being of bees can be harmed in honey production.

Varieties and types of honey and most well known honeys in the world – The best honey in the world

There are several types of honey and coloring, the bees that feed on specific plants make honey with different flavors, hence the wide varieties available, which vary according to the flower in the region, the type of terrain and the way of preparation. Its taste can range from sweet to bitter, and depending on the origin of the plant, we can experience different aromas. The lightest honeys have a milder aroma and flavors, however, the darkest ones have a higher concentration of proteins and mineral salts.

To really experience these different flavors, you will need to look for raw or unpasteurized honey. Once heated by pasteurization, many of the flavor differences between types of honey are lost and the product becomes simply sweet. Most honey purchases through beekeepers and local producer markets are raw honeys. We can also find raw honey in specialty stores and health food stores.

  • The acacia honey is very sweet, with a classic, pure and clean honey taste;
  • The blackberry honey is deep and rich, while being fruity;
  • The blueberry honey has a slight aftertaste and a fruity flavor;
  • The buckwheat honey is tasty as a topping on a toast. Its strong, spicy flavor makes it perfect for marinades;
  • The coffee honey tends to be quite dark, with a rich, deep flavor that matches its color;
  • The eucalyptus honey has just a hint of menthol flavor, which makes it perfect for mixing with tea;
  • The linden honey is quite delicate and has a fresh, woody aroma that goes perfectly with tea;
  • The macadamia nut honey has a distinct sweet and nutty flavor with a lovely floral scent;
  • The orange blossom honey is smooth and has a citrus aroma and a floral aroma;
  • The wildflower honey is light and fruity, but with a rich flavor at the same time. The specific wildflowers from which the bees obtained the nectar to make this honey will make the flavor more delicate or intense.

Portuguese honey: the species that are in its origin Portuguese honey

Varieties of honey in Portugal

The richness and diversity of the honey flora of Portugal, which comes from wild species such as heather or rockrose, and from cultivated plants, such as chestnut and eucalyptus, give rise to different flavors and, consequently, various honeys. The selection, distribution throughout the national territory and quantities of this flora gives rise to what we can consider two groups or types of honey: multifloral honey and monofloral honey.

Multifloral honey is honey obtained from the nectar of several species, in which the predominant characteristics of a particular plant are not highlighted, while honey is monofloral when the pollen from a species reaches about 45% of the total existing pollen, except rosemary and chestnut honey, when the pollen percentages of the respective pollen types are above 10 and 70%, respectively.

In Portugal, the most representative monofloral honeys are rosemary honey (Lavandulastoechas), heather honey (Erica umbellata) and chestnut honey (Castanea sativa), which is more prevalent in mountain areas.

Depending on the region and its species, there are also particular monofloral honeys of micro production, or controlled production, as in the Azores the variety of Incense Honey, produced from the nectar of a species of Pittosporum ondulatum Hort, a natural plant that grows throughout the territory. Or in the Algarve and Alentejo, carob honey (Ceratonia siliqua).

Portuguese honey, which are the honeys with Protected Designation of Origin – PDO

There are 9 registered honeys in Portugal whose denominations are registered as PDO, according to the DGADR:

  • Honey from Serra da Lousã PDO (harvested from March to August) is an amber colored honey, sometimes very dark and very viscous. It has an excellent flavor, with notes of forest, humus and heather. Bees feed on nectar from the surrounding natural flora, particularly wild heather and chestnut.
  • Honey from Terra Quente PDO, (harvested from July to September) in the Northeast of Portugal. The nectar is collected from the Mediterranean flora, typical of this mountainous region where heather, eucalyptus, broom and especially lavender dominate the natural vegetation. The predominance of rosemary floral notes make this honey with a unique flavor.
  • Honey from Montesinho Park PDO (harvested from July to August) results from the particular conditions of the Natural Park, where any agriculture that interferes with the natural and autochthonous flora is not allowed, so the predominance of chestnut, heather, gorse, lavender, giving rise to a honey with a dark color and a strong smell.
  • Honey from the Highlands of Minho PDO (harvested from July to September), this honey has a markedly dark color, it is particularly rich in some mineral salts. It has a natural tendency to crystallize, which is a guarantee of its purity and quality, so it can only be marketed in a fluid (pasty) or solid (crystallized) state. It is a honey made from flower nectar, in which Ericaceae (heather) pollen is mostly found, also known in the region as "queiró.
  • Honey from Barroso PDO (harvested from July to September) with a moisture content of less than 18% this honey is dark in color and has a flavor and aroma that reflect the regional flora, where heather also predominates.
  • Honey from Ribatejo Norte PDO (harvested from July to September) comes in four varieties depending on the highest percentage of the type of pollen it contains: Serra d'Aire (rosemary, lavender and mint); Castelo de Bode Reservoir (heather, myrtle and chestnut); Neighborhood (thistle, rubus, echium and trifolium); Alto Nabão (eucalyptus). The color also varies in the four varieties, but is predominantly pale yellow.
  • Honey from Alentejo PDO is characterized by having a light color, whose tonality is characteristic of the region and resulting from its pollen composition, that is, from the flora that serves as pasture for the bees. Thus, the predominance of Rosmaninho, Esteva, Medronheiro, Honeysuckle, Cardo-asnil, Soagem and a whole flora coexisting with the cork oak forests and Azinho, characteristic of the Mediterranean region. As well as the Sunflower, Eucalyptus and Laranjeira plantations.
  • Honey form Serra de Monchique PDO (harvested from May to July) is a nectar honey, multi-floral, with a mild flavor due, in large part, to the presence of fruit trees such as orange and plum trees. There is also an extensive area of arbutus in the region, which provides a very typical “bitter” flavor honey, which may in the future merit some differentiation in terms of the sales denomination as "Arbutus Honey".
  • Honey from Azores PDO, in the Multifloral variety, is a honey from the nectar of wildflowers and the flowers of trees that grow in this area, including plum, chestnut, orange, eucalyptus and rosemary, as well as subtropical species such as banana, passion fruit, pineapple, avocado. and guava. Honey from the Azores PDO includes yet another variety, the Honey of Incense, produced from the nectar of a species of Pittosporum ondulatum Hort, a natural plant that grows throughout the Azores.

Health benefits of honey

AHere are some of the natural health benefits of honey:

  • The anti-inflammatory properties can relieve coughing and are believed to alleviate allergies.
  • Antioxidants can help prevent cell damage in the brain and boost memory.
  • Honey can increase insulin, releasing serotonin (makes you feel good), which is then converted to melatonin (improving sleep quality).
  • Antibacterial and antifungal properties can treat eczema, dandruff and other skin conditions caused by dry skin.
  • As a natural antibiotic that can act both internally and externally, honey can treat wounds and burns

Honey is good for your health and that's why we're going to highlight 10 benefits that come with eating honey.

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  • Good for your skin - Pure bee honey contains healing and antibacterial substances that prevent the proliferation of microorganisms on the skin, in addition to helping in the treatment of lesions characteristic of acne in these cases, it is recommended to apply honey directly to the affected area.
  • Good for your blood - Honey improves the functioning of essential organs and tissues, the composition of honey includes the element Chromium that helps to normalize the activity of hormones, which stabilizes the blood sugar level, and improves the formation of adipose tissue, Chromium eliminates fats, and balancing sugar levels.
  • Good for your mind - One of the main functions of honey is its contribution to the absorption and fixation of calcium in the body. Neurons use calcium to generate the electrical signal, and honey helps to absorb and fix calcium in the body, which is dependent on the presence of this chemical element (calcium) in the body. When honey is consumed regularly, neurons act appropriately against the use of this element, in order to improve brain function.
  • Good for your throat - Honey has antibiotic and antiseptic power, very effective to fight colds, allergic problems and sore throat. The anti-inflammatory potential of honey is capable of not only inhibiting inflammation, but also rebuilding new tissue in the throat region.
  • Good for wound healing - Like the treatment for acne, honey has healing and antiseptic properties, which makes it suitable for preventing wounds from healing faster and not suffering from infectious processes. Canker sores in the mouth can also be treated with this sweet food. There have been good results in the treatment of abscesses, burns, grafts, infected wounds.
  • Good for your peace - Natural honey produces glycogen in the liver, which is the energy reserve used by the brain for its normal functioning. The liver's glycogen stores prevent the release of hormones associated with stress, so the daily consumption of honey is very beneficial for well-being and health.
  • Good for your night's sleep - It is recommended to take 2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime. Honey encourages nighttime relaxation and sleep due to its calming properties. Honey contains a nutrient called tryptophan, a hormone that relaxes you and helps you fall asleep. In addition, as mentioned, honey contains glycogen, which also helps ensure a more peaceful and restful night's sleep.
  • Good for your immunity - Honey has antiseptic and antibiotic properties and, in addition, it also has phytonutrients and is antibacterial. These components make honey a great alternative to strengthen the immune system. It is not only responsible for eliminating microorganisms from different areas, but also prevents their agglomeration in the nasal cavities and pores, which are the main entrances for bacteria. The antibacterial action of honey also affects some bacteria that are the cause of certain diseases and urinary infections that, according to some studies, are identified as sensitive to this antibacterial action.
  • Good for your metabolism - Honey is considered a probiotic food, with components that improve the bacterial flora of the body, honey supplies the liver during sleep and contributes to the improvement of organic function, acceleration of the metabolic process of burning fat.
  • Good for your physical performance - The regular intake of honey allows an immediate and intensive feeding of the entire muscular system, especially the heart muscles. Restores energy, helps improve recovery time by preventing muscle fatigue after long and complex workouts.

The best Portuguese honey on Tube by meia.dúzia®

Varieties of the best honey in Portugal

Packaged in an original, unique and refined way, meia.dúzia® has selected 6 flavors of honey from different regions of Portugal to which we add dehydrated fruits and spices, resulting in 6 unique flavor experiences.

  1. Multifloral Honey

    Wild honey, harvested in the Beiras Region, Portugal. It is obtained through an experienced practice of transhumance, benefiting from different blooms, including 4 varieties of Heather, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Gorse, Hollyhock, Thyme, Rosemary and Borage. Very soft and delicate, it is the honey whose flavor is the preference of the largest number of consumers. With recognized health benefits, it strengthens the immune system, acts as an antitussive, antiseptic, antioxidant and mineralizing agent.

    A honey experience without the addition of any other ingredient, for lovers of honey in its purest state, ideal to consume in the preparation of salad dressings in sauces of grilled tilapia fish, Moroccan chicken or in desserts such as yoghurt mousse with rose, coconut, pear muffins, chocolate with almonds, lavender cupcakes, lavender pannacotta, brownies. It's even an excellent addition to whiskey or lemonade.

  2. Honey Collected in ‘Serra da Lousã’ with Ginger

    Honey harvested on the slopes and valleys of Serra da Lousã. Mountain honey, characteristic of heather flowering, common in the highlands of the central mountain massif. It is a honey full of personality, with a strong flavor, slightly acidic and dense consistency. It presents itself with a very dark and amber tone. It has a striking aroma and flavor, slightly spicy resulting from the mixture with ginger, and with a slight astringency, typical of heather nectar.

    Ginger is an herbal plant with many health benefits. As a medicinal plant, it is one of the oldest and most popular in the world. It is considered a powerful anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, antioxidant and bactericidal.

    This combination results in a product with a refined flavor, ideal for accompanying meat dishes and for preparing sweet and sour sauces, for tea or as a topping for yogurt.

  3. Eucalyptus Honey with ‘Passa’ Pear

    Originating from the nectar of eucalyptus flowers, it is aromatic, with a light brown tone and a more open aroma and palate that combines delicately with other ingredients. With immense health benefits, eucalyptus honey is anti-inflammatory. Antiseptic, antibacterial and stimulant.

    The pear comes from the 'São Bartolomeu' pear trees, fruit trees of a regional variety, produced in new and intensive orchards. The pears are subjected to a specific drying process that causes the necessary changes in the flavor, color and texture of the fresh pear in raisin. After solar drying, the fruits are ready to be squashed. The result is a reddish brown raisin pear with unique organoleptic properties, elastic, sweet and very tasty.

    This mixture results in a product with a sweet taste and very energetic, ideal to replenish energy after a trip to the gym or to accompany bruschetta, caramelized carrots, rustic bread, sandwiches, peaches with mascarpone cheese and honey, grilled shrimp, lobster or salads, ice cream or cocktails (with vodka, vanilla, lemon, ginger and honey).

  4. Rosemary Honey with Apple and Cinnamon

    From the aromatic mixture of rosemary honey with apple and cinnamon, with a flavor that is widely recognized and appreciated by everyone, a honey with a warm and delicate flavor is obtained, with an intense aroma and flavor of cinnamon. Clear honey, with a mild and aromatic flavor, is collected by bees in the abundant fields of Rosmaninho, located on the lower slopes of Serra da Malcata, a natural reserve with 21,000 hectares.

    The dehydrated apple, of Portuguese origin, is finely cut into slices, and results from a drying process that reduces the moisture content of the fruit to 2%, in a controlled environment, without the addition of sugars, dyes or preservatives, resulting in in a 100% natural product. Cinnamon, with its warm, fragrant aroma, with antifungal, antibacterial and antiparasitic properties, has immense health benefits.

    This combination is ideal for crepes, and toppings for desserts of fresh cheeses, strong cheeses, pork, sandwiches, fried bananas, roasted pears or drinks such as milkshakes and sangria.

  5. Orange Blossom Honey with Chilli

    This smooth and clear honey, with a golden hue, mixed with the dehydrated chilli gives this honey a spicy flavor, which contrasts with the sweet and characteristic flavor of orange blossom honey.

    We have selected the smoothest honey from Laranjeira in the Algarve. A lighter and smoother honey than Rosmaninho and characterized by its accentuated acidity. It is very good for the functioning of the intestine, in addition to invigorating the skin and helping to combat insomnia.

    Chilli, with its intense red color, is a spice with a pungent flavor. The spiciness of the seeds, due to the presence of capsaicin (the active ingredient in pepper) is acrid, locally causing rapid and energetic stimulation.

    A unique mix, which results in a unique and surprisingly pleasant product, for those who enjoy an unexpected taste experience. To taste with shrimp kebabs with mango, honey and garlic sauce for grilled meats, honey mustard sauce, sauce for samosas, pork medallions with orange and mango, slow cooker chicken with orange and sesame seeds, orange soup and carrots, spinach salad, pineapple cocktail, hamburgers. Try it with blue cheeses and fresh goat cheeses.

  6. ‘Serra da Estrela’ Heather Honey with Elderberry

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    Heather honey, from Serra da Estrela, Portugal, with a remarkable aroma and flavor, is a source of energy due to its natural sugar content. A honey suitable for people who prefer less sweet products.

    The elderberry has been defined as the guardian of health since ancient times. It has a strong coloring power, giving the bluish/violet color to the products to which they are added. Elderberry also has a very high level of antioxidant activity and a high content of polyphenols that make it the most antioxidant of honeys. Prevents aging and degenerative diseases.

    Mixed with elderberry, which has a high antioxidant power, it makes this an invigorating product, ideal for replenishing energy at the end of the day, accompanying a crepe or for preparing a relaxing drink, topping ice cream or yogurt.

The best Portuguese honeys in a tube

PACK6 Honey Experiences - Internationally awarded with Red Dot Design 2017/2018

Inspired by bee hives, with hexagonal shapes, the pack6 of honey experiences in a triangular shape was created, which together were a hexagon. The 6 flavors of honey, from different regions of Portugal to which we add dehydrated fruits and spices. An Experience that will surprise lovers of honey and sophisticated flavors.

Packaging design won in the food product design category and is represented in the Booking of your Winner Package – Red Dot Award : Communication Design 2017-2018.

The best honey in Portugal, awarded with Red Dot Award

Healthy recipes with honey

  • Jasmin tea by meia.dúzia® with Honey Collected in ‘Serra da Lousã’ with Ginger by meia.dúzia®
  • Natural yogurt, granola and rosemary honey
  • Vegetarian salad with Serra da Estrela heather honey
  • Vegan pancakes with blueberry jam and honey from Serra da Estrela
  • Honey and Mustard Lamb Palette by Daniel Bork
  • Granola and Honey Yogurt Tartlets

atural yogurt, granola and rosemary honey

Gourmet recipes with honey – Portuguese Haute Cuisine

  • Mozzarella and tomato with orange blossom honey and chilli

Mozzarella and tomato with orange blossom honey and chilli

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