Like olive oil, honey is one of the miraculous staple foods of Greece and comes in a multitude of beneficial and delicious varieties. As a variable ingredient it can be used in everything from tea to yogurt to cakes and even savoury dishes to offer flavour, texture and dimension.

For the love of honey

Beekeeping has been vital to Greek life since antiquity, when it was established as a large-scale practice. Archaeologists have discovered that during the Hellenistic period beekeepers were so ahead of their time that they interchanged their beehives throughout big regions in order to make the best of utilising different varieties of plants endemic to each area.

Greece is well recognised for its extraordinary variety of medicinal and aromatic herbs and plants, which carry their aromas and essence into honey. Various scientific research has revealed that Greek honey is rich in compounds such as polyphenols, phenolic acids and many more.

In recent news, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Greek reality, honey consumption rose by 15%. This is owed to several factors – the high and widespread production nationwide, the accessibility and the inherent, ancient knowledge Greeks hold about it being a superfood. In fact, research at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki has even shown that Greek honey has higher antioxidant qualities than Manuka honey, which is regularly lauded as the most beneficial honey globally.

During the Greek financial crisis, many people left the city or urban-based activities and turned to the ancient art and science of beekeeping. As a result, today there are around 20-25,000 beekeepers in the country with over beehives. It’s estimated that outr of this number of beekeepers, 5000 are professionals, 10,000 are part-timers and another 10,000 are amateurs. The Greek Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) says that Greece produces around 17 tons of honey per year.

Variety, variety, variety

Because of Greece’s great variety of flora – around 6,500 different types, of which 1,500 are endemic, textures and colours -there are many different types of honey with an exciting range of tastes and properties. The most commonly found varieties of honey one can find are Pine, Flower, Thyme, Chestnut, Orange, Sage, Eriki, Carob and Mainalos Vanilla.

Honey is certainly a blessing for Greeks and for the world, and an especially healthful and delightful ingredient to enjoy every day.

Honey Health Benefits

  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Is anti-inflammatory
  • Supports digestion and improves gut health
  • Is high in B vitamins which help strengthen the nervous system
  • Is high in antioxidants and has anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Soothes the throat
  • Induces relaxation and helps sleep
  • Gives energy
Pasteli @greekfoodalchemist

Bonus recipe!

Pasteli, the Ancient Greek honey health bar:

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups thyme honey

3 cups white sesame

1 lemon peel

Instructions

  1. In a deep pan heat the honey and lemon peel until it reaches a boil.
  2. Add the sesame and stir well, until it reaches a second boil.
  3. Remove from the heat, and remove the lemon peel.
  4. Pour onto a baking sheet spreading to a 5cm thickness and place onto a cool surface.
  5. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.
  6. Remove and slice or break into pieces.

Some awarded Greek honeys to look out for (and order online!) 

PLATINUM:

Fir Honey Helmos

Top to Bottom (L to R): Fir Honey Helmos 2. Apiculture Amfipolis Rose Honey 3. Apiculture Amfipolis Tea Honey 4. Artius Mt Taygetos Thyme Honey 5. Foodcross Natural Products 6. Attiki Honey Wild Flora & Thyme 7. Nomad Premium Greek Honey

FIR HD

GOLD:

Apiculture Amfipolis

Tea Honey

POLYFLORAL

&

Apiculture Amfipolis

Rose Honey

POLYFLORAL

Artius Mt Taygetos Thyme Honey

THYME

Greece

Likou Eftixia

POLYFLORAL

Foodcross Natural Products

THYME

Greece

Geranos Stefanos-Forest

FOREST HD

& Geranos Stefanos-Antheon

POLYFLORAL

Attiki Honey – Wild Flora & Thyme

POLYFLORAL

Greece &

Attiki Greek Dark Brown Forest Honey

FOREST HD

Greece

L.V. NATURAL FOODS

Gypsy Queen

FIR & FOREST

Nomad Premium Greek Honey

FIR HD

 

SILVER: 

Top to Bottom(L to R): 1. Voria Chora Lavendar Honey 2. Ennea Premium Honey-Conifers & Herbs 3. Smari Cretan Honey

Voria Chora

LAVΕNDER HONEY

ennea Premium Honey-Conifers & Herbs

POLYFLORAL

&

ennea Premium Honey-Flowerz,Herbs & Thyme

POLYFLORAL

Thyme Honey Metamorphosis

Smari Cretan Honey-Nikolarakis Emmanouil

Smari Cretan Thyme & Pine Honey

 

BRONZE

Top to Bottom(L to R): Little Donkey Mint & Chocolate Infused Honey, 2. Georgakas Family Citrus Honey 3. E-La-Won Honey

Mint and Chocolate Infused Honey

Little Donkey Honey

INFUSED HONEY

Georgakas Family

CITRUS

Greece

E-La-Won

CHESTNUT

 

 

Alexia Amvrazi
Alexia Amvrazi

Editor

Alexia has lived in Greece for 20+ years, writing & presenting on radio/TV for global & local media, & is co-author of '111 Places in Athens That You Shouldn’t’ Miss'. She grew up in Rome, Cairo & Athens and studied Film, TV & Radio and MA in Mass Communications in the UK. Her international childhood & travels around the world offer her enough closeness & distance from Greece to see both the dream & the reality. Her chief goal as Editor of IN+SIGHTS GREECE is to provide a plethora of in+sightful, in+timate, in+telligent, in+dividual & in+formative perspectives of Greece.

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