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, the Ancient Greek honey health bar:
1 1/3 cups thyme honey
3 cups white sesame
1 lemon peel
- In a deep pan heat the honey and lemon peel until it reaches a boil.
- Add the sesame and stir well, until it reaches a second boil.
- Remove from the heat, and remove the lemon peel.
- Pour onto a baking sheet spreading to a 5cm thickness and place onto a cool surface.
- When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.
- Remove and slice or break into pieces.
Some awarded Greek honeys to look out for (and order online!)
Artius Mt Taygetos Thyme Honey
Foodcross Natural Products
& Geranos Stefanos-Antheon
Attiki Honey – Wild Flora & Thyme
Attiki Greek Dark Brown Forest Honey
L.V. NATURAL FOODS
FIR & FOREST
Nomad Premium Greek Honey
ennea Premium Honey-Conifers & Herbs
ennea Premium Honey-Flowerz,Herbs & Thyme
Thyme Honey Metamorphosis
Smari Cretan Honey-Nikolarakis Emmanouil
Mint and Chocolate Infused Honey
Little Donkey Honey