The buzz on honey

Sound Consumer | February 2013

Honey has been used as a food and medicine and revered for its healthful properties for thousands of years. Pythagoras called it "the nectar of the Gods" — and for good reason. It's believed to ease coughs, promote digestion and have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

It's a delicious, versatile sweetener, too. Add a small spoonful to tea, enrich a marinade or glaze for meat or fish, drizzle a bit over pancakes, or use in place of white sugar for baking. It adds rich flavor and moisture, so your baked goods stay fresh longer.

Local or organic?

PCC carries numerous local honeys. High Country Honey, Craic Honey and Guilmette's Busy Bees honeys are from Washington. GloryBee honeys come from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Oregon Growers honey comes from Oregon. (See Honey at PCC below.)

We also offer GloryBee's honey from two cooperatives in Brazil because it's certified organic (as well as fairly traded and truly raw). Brazil is one of the few countries with areas that are certifiable. Honey bees forage for miles around and for that reason, there's no certifiably organic honey from any source in Washington state or any other source in the continental United States that we know of.

What is raw honey?

Truly raw honey isn't heated at all or filtered, and contains more than 75 different compounds, including enzymes, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and organic acids. The enzymes in particular may help with digestion and reduce demands on the pancreas and other digestive organs.

Honey for allergies?

Honey often is touted as a natural way to treat hay fever symptoms. The theory is that by eating raw, unfiltered, unstrained honey that has been collected locally during the allergy season, you'll be exposed to the culprit pollens in small doses and build immunity. But there's no documented medical study that verifies the claim.

Honey at PCC

Honey Gardens Apiaries — "Our raw honey has little flecks of pollen, which help build immunity to get over allergies," says Honey Gardens' Todd Hardie. "It contains propolis, a natural antibiotic that studies show has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and liver-protecting properties."

GloryBee Honey — GloryBee makes light-colored, raw honeys in blueberry and blackberry patches in the Northwest, as well as Mountain Wildflower honey, which is dark and rich and beloved by bakers for its distinctive flavor and aroma. GloryBee's raw buckwheat honey is exceptionally dark and robust in flavor. It's often used medicinally, to warm and soothe a dry, scratchy throat.

Pri Manuka Honey — Produced in New Zealand and Australia from the nectar of the manuka tree, this strongly flavored honey is said to have antibacterial and healing properties. Use as a spread or add to tea, or take a couple teaspoonfuls before meals to aid the digestive system.

Guilmette's Busy Bees — Skip Guilmette has been selling honey from his hives in Everson, Wash. (near Bellingham) for years. Choose wildflower or creamed honey.

Craic Honey — Raw honey in pint jars from a small, family operation near Yakima, Wash. Mint and raspberries are the floral sources, rendering a honey that's fairly dark with a full, robust flavor.

High Country Honey — This honey from Mount Vernon, Wash. is strained, not filtered, leaving all the pollen intact. Choose blackberry or wildflower, in 16- or 44-ounce jars.

Oregon Growers & Shippers — Raw wildflower honey made from the nectar collected from wild blossoms in the Columbia River Gorge.

Honey in bulk — Need just a half a cup of honey for a recipe? PCC sells GloryBee's Northwest clover honey in bulk, so you can get just as little or as much as you need. It's a light honey good for everyday use and is much more economical than buying a jar.

More about: allergies, baking, honey, sweeteners

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