Heather is a shrub found in Greece that is adorned with numerous flowers. From the nectar of these flowers, bees produce an autumn heather honey which possesses a special aroma and a unique taste.
Anamatomelo (as we call the heather honey here in Ikaria) is a product that has very high nutritional value and is one of the best options for stimulating the body. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which assist the urinary and digestive system.
Additionally, it can help lower cholesterol and is excellent honey for children with anaemia, as well as increase vigor and vitality in seniors.
The honey has a caramel flavor, an intense aroma of the flowers of heather and a red brass color that turns into caramel after crystallization. This crystallization occurs very quickly, ranging from one to three months after collection.
Anama (“heather”) honey (also known in Greece as “reiki”) comes from bees that forage on the native Fall heather that grows at high elevations on Ikaria.
Our Anama honey is pure, raw and never heated. It has an almost peanut butter like consistency – super thick, rich, strongly flavored and mildly sweet and is high in trace minerals. It has the aroma of a beehive and an earthy flavor profile with notes of beeswax, sassafras, burnt sugar, toffee, bourbon and toasty oak with a slight medicinal finish. It is a very unique honey.
It is not a good choice for cooking. Its flavors are too pronounced and it would dominate the dish. And the heat would destroy its healthy biological properties. Rather, like the other Ikarian honeys, it is best consumed plain (delicious!) or with foods like yogurt, bread or cheese where the unique flavors of the honey are highlighted.
Winter Anama is very special and is only available in years when the rainfall patterns allow for the Fall heather to bloom.
Please note – as described above, the Anama honey is very thick and almost solid. It does not pour.
There are two distinct types of single flower heather honey. One is from a single species, Ling Heather (Calluna vulgaris), a true heather, and the other type is from any of the Erica species. Both the C. vulgaris and all the Erica species belong to the Ericaceae family, but of the two types, Ling Heather honey is considered true “Heather Honey,” and it is quite different from Erica honey of the Erica species. It is often called Scotch, Summer or Autumn Heather to distinguish it from other Erica species. It is a low growing evergreen native of Europe with a liking for dry acidic soils. Ling Heather is considered a symbol of Scotland and is one of the national flowers of Norway.
Ling Heather honey has unique sensory qualities and exhibits a gelatinous property called thixotopism. Normally it is gel-like and firm, but it will become temporarily liquid if stirred or agitated.
In judging honey, a common test of the purity of Ling honey is to place the opened honey jar on its side to test how quickly it will flow out. Pure Ling Heather honey will stay firmly in place for several minutes. The longer it stays, the purer the honey. Another sign of purity is the presence of small air bubbles trapped in the gel-like honey (a result of pressing to extract the honey), and while it has a bright appearance, it will not be clear.
Honey Heather Sensory Characteristics
Ling Heather honey is reddish/orange to dark amber. It has a slightly bitter, tangy, pungent, smoky, mildly sweet taste that persists for a long time. It has a strong distinctive woody, warm, floral, fresh fruit aroma reminiscent of heather flowers. The crystallization rate is quite slow and in early stages results in a smooth light-colored mass, and if very pure, it may not crystallize at all. Some beekeepers feel that the purest Heather Honey comes from higher moors (British Bee Journal April 4, 1912).
Another unusual characteristic of heather honey is its normally high moisture content, usually associated with fermentation. It is sometimes as high as 25% but it is usually between 19% and 23%. This is attributed to the gel-like consistency making it harder for the bees to evaporate the moisture out of the honey. Regulations for most honeys are often set at a high of 20% to prevent fermentation. However, an exception is usually made for heather honey, as this is its natural state and it is more resistant to fermentation than other honeys; it is thought because the gel-like property traps water and retards fermentation.
The honey produced by the bees on Ikaria, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, is of particularly high quality due to the unique geographical and topographical attributes found on the Island.
Honey from the “ancient healing island” of Ikaria is of particularly high quality and is revered by the famously long-lived Ikarians, who believe it has special healing properties and consume it daily. It has a dark amber color and is thicker and richer than most honey with a unique delicious flavor.
This very rare honey, perhaps the best in the world, is 100% pure, natural, unheated and unpasteurized. Its special characteristics are a function of the unique environment in which the indigenous bees gather their pollen.
Ikaria is free from industrialization and due its mountainous and undulating rocky terrain, conventional farming is not practiced. The island is therefore free from chemical pollutants that contaminate both air, land and water, leaving the bees to gather their pollen in a pristine, if not perfect, environment. Through laborious effort, the hives are placed in hard to reach areas throughout the hills and mountains where the bees feed on pollen from the Ikarian pines and a broad range of wild flowers and native flora.
The indigenous bees of Ikaria, which are confined to the natural borders of the island, feed off of a broad range of native plants, bushes and herbs which themselves possess interesting health properties.
As a completely natural product, uninfluenced by man, each vintage of Ikarian honey has subtle differences in flavor and aroma based on seasonal climate conditions which affect the flowering patterns and result in proportional differences in pollen collection by the bees. We simply take what they provide us.
|Greek Honey, just carrying the moniker “Nectar of the Gods”, for over 3,000 years is a pretty good calling card!
Many of you have traveled to Greece and/or perhaps have tasted Greek honey, so you are familiar with it’s colors, variety, and tastes. If not, don’t be left out. If you love honey, then you will want to know about Greek honey.
Greek Honey is special in all of Europe because:
* Greece has more bee hives “per acre” than any other country in Europe.
* The best honey in Greece comes from “Thyme” (Thimari in Greek), by far the best honey in the world and a favorite among honey connoisseurs.
* The honey from Greece is considered to be some of the finest honey in the world. Variables such as unlimited summer sun, the biodiversity of the Greek countryside plus the rich variety of Greek flora which includes over 850 species found nowhere else in the world! Earth scientists and botanists consider Greece a country with the richest flora in the Mediterranean basin, (more than 7,500 different species of herbs, plants, wild flowers and trees). Thus, with this magnificent array of nature’s blessings, the bees give us multiple types of Greek honey which is its claim to popularity and fame. Now, maybe you are starting to understand the pride in the country’s honey and its top position in the world market.
|History and why Honey has been valued by the Greeks:
The history and use of Greek honey is impressive. Since ancient times honey, has been used both as a food and a source of medicinal therapy. Some of the legendary greats of Greece such as the “Father of Medicine”, Hippocrates, wrote, “Honey and pollen cause warmth, clean sores and ulcers, soften hard ulcers of lips, heal carbuncles and running sores.” Aristotle, philosopher and student of Socrates, believed that honey prolonged life. There was “honey therapy” used at the most famed health spa in ancient times , the Asklepieion.
What is Honey?
Honey is a gift from the bees of a sweet, thick, sugary solution from the “honeydew” (sweet secretions of insects feeding on the plant sap) or the nectar that a flower, herb, or tree provides. The ingredients are varying proportions of fructose, water, glucose, oil and a special enzyme produced and added by the bees. To make 1 lb. of this sought after delicacy, bees fly to 50-100 flowers “per flight” and actually fly thousands of miles to make the equivalent of 1 lb. of honey. Bees fill their sacs with these juices, then fly back to the “house bees” who then take the nectar, add enzymes from “their” bodies which cause the moisture to evaporate and that turns the nectar into honey. After time, the nectar which is stored in a honeycomb cell becomes the honey we know. So you can have either “nectar” honeys or “honeydew honeys. In some studies it has been found that the darker honey generated by bees feeding on honeydew have greater antioxidant properties than those produced by bees feeding on nectar.
FUN HONEY FACTS:
~~~ In Greek “Mele” is the word for honey…. And “Melissa” is the word for honey bee.
~~~ It takes the lifetime of 12 bees to make one teaspoon of honey!
~~~ Greece has a plethora of myths starting with a pretty strong case for honey… ‘It was the food of the Gods of Olympus known as “Ambrosia”.
~~~ Greek honey has specific physical and chemical characteristics. Ultimately, the Greek honey produced is unique in color, aroma, taste and thickness.
~~~ Honey has the largest mythological tradition in all the histories in the world.
~~~ Greece is where the art of beekeeping (apiculture) started in early prehistoric times.
~~~Honey and the collection of honey was so prolific in Greece that you can find more than “40 ancient names” for honey containers and innumerable references to honey throughout ancient Greek history.
~~~ In the 5th century BC and later, archaeological evidence shows that bees were kept in ceramic beehives—(large pottery jars) in which the interior had been incised before firing to provide a rough surface for the bees to attach the combs.
~~~ The world’s first cook book comes from Greece). Even today, loukamades (honey puff balls), melamacarano (Xmas honey macaroon cookie), sesame and honey bars are all made with honey and are a staple handed down through the millennia!
~~ Greek mythology tells us that Zeus, was raised on honey.
~~~ Many beekeepers harvest by hand using the ancient traditional methods from late spring until late autumn. The honey is extracted cold and is unfiltered to ensure the many health beneficial properties of the nectar
~~~ Honey was the first sweetener used by the Greeks in their diet for the preparation of sweets and delicacies which made honey very popular in ancient Greece. Honey, grapes, and olives formed the beginning of Greek gastronomy.
~~~ You may see raw, pure Greek unprocessed honey crystallize (become somewhat solid). This is natural with raw unfiltered honey (Simply place the jar in a bowl of warm water and the crystals will melt into the golden liquid you associate with honey).
|Health Benefits from Honey:
The unique mixture of ingredients of Greek honey is good for preventing fatigue and enhancing athletic performance. Greek honey in particular boasts high vitamin, enzyme, amino acid and mineral content.
Studies show that honey is one of the easiest foods to digest and is known for its cancer-fighting properties (rich in phenolic compounds), aids in the prevention of osteoporosis and breast cancer (oestrogenic properties), and contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal substances. It’s the only food in the world that has everything human needs. It will not spoil and never goes bad. Four Thousand (4,000) year old tombs have been found to contain fresh edible honey in sealed containers. Honey also has been used for millennium as a therapeutic solution to health problems. Dr. and proprietor, Dr Galen, (second in history only to Hippocrates), of the ancient worlds largest “health healing spa in Pergamon, was known to have done honey therapy.
Honey is a good source of antioxidants and research shows that consuming more anti-oxidant rich foods may help protect against cellular damage.
Honey has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for sore throats and coughs, and according to recent research may in fact be more effective than some common medicines. Mixed with lemon juice and consumed slowly, honey coats the throat and alleviates discomfort. Honey can also be used as an effective anti-microbial agent to treat minor burns, cuts and other bacterial infections.