The ancients called it the nectar of the gods. Aristotle philosophized that it wasw a dew distilled from the stars and rainbows; And to A.A. Milne's lovable creation, Winne-the-Pooh, "Hunney is the most wonderfulest stuff ever!"
By definition, honey is a sweet, sticky fluid produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. After busily buzzing from blossom to blossom, the worker honeybee returns to her hive with the day's harvest. The worker bee is equipped with glands that excrete special wax, which they shape into the familiar hexagonal honeycomb cells. After depositing the nectar into these cells, the bees ripen it by fanning their wings to evaporate excess moisture and then seal their treasure with additional wax.
Althought the bee's motive ni all this work is purely selfish, she is such an industirious creature that she manufactures a sufficient surplus to provide man with more than 175 million pounds of the delicious substance annually in the United States alone.
Chemically, honey is comprised primarily of natural fruit sugars which, unlike refined sugars, are predigested. Honey is therefore far more easily absorbed into the bloodstream, making it an excellent source of quick energy. It contributes to endurance and alertness and is commonly used by athletes both as a steady part of trainng diets and for recouping of energy after extreme physical exertion.
An average honey sample contains 40.5% levulose (fruit sugar), 34% dextrose (grape sugar), 2% sucrose (cane sugar), and 16% water. Dextrins, gums, enzymes, vitamins and minerals make up the remaining 7.5%.
While it is true that the vitamin and mineral content is relatively low, honey-unlike refined white sugar-does contain these nutritional substances: small amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid. Among the minerals found in honey are iron, copper, sodium, potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Honey is available in a number of flavors, none of which is "man-made". The flower from which it comes determines the flavor, aroma, color and to some extent the body of a honey. For example, clover and alfalfa produce a mild, light colored honey; orange blossom is fragrant, somewhat citrussy honey; buckwheat is a dark like molasses, but a very pungent honey. Honey also may take its name from a general grouping of flowers, such as wildflower, or from a particular geographical region, such as tupelo or blueberry.
There can be slight variations in individual flavors and in the thickness of a honey from season to season depending upon growing conditions such as soil and weather and their effect upon the flowers' nectar. Honeys that come from a combination of sources rather than from one main flower are more likely to vary.
The best honeys come from areas with an abundance of good nectar-producing plants. Some sources of excellent clover and alfalfa honeys are the Dakotas, other Midwestern states and also Argentina. Orange blossom honey may come from Florida, Mexico, or other citrus bearing states and countries. Tupelo honey is a specialty of Florida, blueberry of Maine and New Jersey, and buckwheat of New York state and Canada.
A commercial packer such as Sandt's, buys from many geographical sources for availability, desired varieties and quality.
Honey may be sold still in the comb just as it comes from the hive, but is much more commonly extracted from the comb and sold as a liquid. To extract, the beekeeper cuts or scrapes away the wax cappings and places the comb in a cylindrical machine that spins rapidly, literally throwing the honey out of the comb by centrifugal force.
Extracted honey contains foreign particales from the hive and tends to crystalize (solidify) quickly. The beekeeper may or may not allow the honey to sit for a time so that larger particles settle out before it is put into large containers, most often 55 gallon drums, for shipment to the packing companies.
The honey that the packer receives may be liquid, partly solidified or compltely solid. In order to remove the honey from its container, clean it of foreign matter and bottle it, the packer must first return it to a completely liquid state. While all packers of liquid honey must heat the honey to liquefy it, they do differ in how high they heat it and the method used to clean the honey.
We heat the honey to approximately 150 degrees fahrenheit. This temperature is sufficient to dissolve crystals and destroy yeasts that can cause fermentaion, but is not so high that it will alter the honey's natural flavors, nor harm its mineral content. The heating process also retards (although does not prevent indefinitely) honey's natural tendency to recrystallize. After liquefying, we allow the honey to flow through a stainless steel mesh to strain out all foreign particles, but not the microscopic pollens. The healthful pollens remain and give Sandt's honey its cloudy appearance.
Many commercial packers go a step further by filtering the honey. Filtering necessitates heating the honey to highter temperatures and processing it through a very fine filtering material which removes all pollens.
We at Sandt's do not filter any of our honey. Nor do we add extenders, additives or anything at all. Every jar of Sandt's honey is 100% genuine, pure, unadulterated honey. It is chosen for top quality and handled with knowledge and care.