Pine Tree Honey: Health Benefits, Buying Tips and Culinary Uses
Pine tree honey is a type of forest honey made by bees that collect honeydew instead of flower nectar. Honeydew, in turn, is a sugary liquid that some small insects secrete as they feed on the sap of certain trees, including pine trees. Honeybees then collect these sweet secretions and process them into dark-colored, full-flavored honeydew honey. Pine honey, along with other honeydew honeys, is highly prized in some European and Asian countries for its reputed healing properties and culinary value.
In this article, we take a look at the health benefits of pine honey and provide ideas on how you can you use this strongly-flavored honey in your culinary creations. At the end of this article, we also share some tips on where to get pine honey if you don't happen to live in a country like Greece, Turkey, Germany, France, or New Zealand where pine honey is commonly available in the stores.
Health Benefits of Pine Honey
Several studies show that honeydew honeys, such as pine honey, have stronger antioxidant properties than the more common floral honeys which you can buy at practically any grocery store in the US or UK. The antioxidant activities of honeydew honeys are generally attributed to the high levels of phenolic compounds and flavonoids they contain. As you may already know, antioxidants are health-protecting molecules that neutralize free radicals, unstable molecules that have been associated with a wide range of age-related conditions, from heart disease and cancer to macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease.
A recent study that compared 18 honey varieties, both floral and forest honeys, found that Greek pine honey had the strongest anti-bacterial properties among the tested honeys. It was found to exert antibacterial effects against E. coli, S. marcescens, B. sphaericus, S. epidermidis, and B. subtilis. This intriguing study was published in The Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Food Sciences in 2012.
If you're looking for a sugar substitute that supplies your body with vital minerals, buy a jar of pine honey. According to a study published in the November 2009 issue of the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, pine honey is a particularly good source of potassium, but it also contains a number of other minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Where to Buy Pine Honey
Can't wait to start using pine honey to reap all those wonderful health benefits? If you happen to live in Greece, Turkey, Germany, France, or New Zealand, you may be able to find pine honey at the local grocery store. For the rest of us, gourmet grocery stores and health food stores are better places to look for this specialty honey.
How to Use This Healthy Gourmet Honey
With its robust yet pleasant flavor reminiscent of pine sap, pine honey makes the perfect sweetener for a strong cup of black tea. It is also delicious on French toast and hot scones. You can use pine honey to add a little sweetness to savory dishes.
Due to its anti-bacterial properties, some people also apply pine honey directly to the skin to accelerate the healing of wounds, burns, and sunburns.