Honey has been used as a sweetener and a medicine since ancient times. With a lower GI index than sugar, it also contains amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, making it a somewhat healthy and nutritious choice as sweeteners go.
Whether you're looking for a sugar or syrup substitute for drinks, a kitchen cooking staple, or you'd like to use it medicinally, honey is versatile and tasty. To help you choose, we've put together a helpful guide including our top picks from supermarkets like Amazon, Tesco and Waitrose. From organic Manuka honeys to affordable blossom varieties, they'll really hit the sweet spot!
Before choosing a honey you'll want to take a few things into consideration. In this section, we'll run through the different types of honey, as well as the taste preferences, the benefits and the environmental factor so you can make an informed choice.
You may have already come across the term 'raw' before in relation to honey, and may be wondering about its possible benefits. There are two main options for processing to create a honey product, raw and regular.
Raw is made by extracting honey from the honeycombs in the hive and simply pouring it over a mesh or nylon cloth to separate any impurities. Once strained it is bottled and ready to enjoy, and some people believe this lack of processing to be better for optimal health.
The 'regular' processing of honey involves several steps including pasteurisation and filtration. Pasteurisation applies heat, extending the shelf life, and filtration further removes impurities, creating a smooth and clear honey which is desirable to the consumer. However, this process does remove most of the beneficial nutrients.
Did you know there are over 300 types of honey? Each type is categorised by its flower source, and also by the region in which the flowers grow. This makes each one completely unique! While we won't go through them all, here are the details on the most popular varieties to help you choose.
Manuka honey is made in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush. It is known for being able to treat wounds and other skin conditions, as well as being an extremely nutritious superfood.
Manuka honey has a strict rating system to determine how effective and therapeutic it is. The Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF, is the measurement used to detect the presence of Manuka's special non-peroxide antibacterial activity.
These three ratings (UMF, NPA, and MGO) do all correlate with one another, and different brands will display different ratings. You can find many tables online to refer to, such as this one from ExportX.
Acacia honey comes from the nectar of the Robinia pseudoacacia flower, commonly known as the black locust or false acacia tree. Compared with regular or traditional honey, it's extremely light in colour, often appearing almost transparent.
It takes a long time to solidify, so its biggest draw is that its liquid form makes it easier to use and serve compared to regular honey. Acacia honey has a floral aroma and delicate flavour and is an extremely popular, though sometimes slightly more expensive, choice.
Wildflower honey is honey produced by bees feeding on different types of wildflowers, and is also called polyfloral honey.
Wildflower honey has natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, and is usually raw. The taste is generally light and fruity, but honey harvested later in the season can be slightly stronger in taste and darker in colour as the varieties of flower changes.
There aren't strict rules as to what constitutes as a wildflower – its defined as the flower of a plant that grows in fields and forests without deliberate cultivation. So the characteristics of wildflower honey can change quite a lot, which can be rather exciting!
Blossom honey is a widely-produced type of honey, and it's common that products that don't specify which type they are are actually blossom honey. The nectar that creates blossom honey can come from lots of different flowers, which usually makes it cheaper to produce, and therefore buy.
A more specific variety is orange blossom honey, which is known for its exotic and citrus-like taste. Unlike blossom honey, orange blossom honey is of course sourced from the blossoms of orange trees, though it can be from a combination of citrus sources. And just like the fruit, this honey provides a wide variety of natural antioxidants to the diet.
Generally when we think of honey, most of us will think of the golden elixir being in a traditional glass jar. Glass jars are durable, infinitely recyclable and perfect for long term storage or for large amounts of both set and runny honey. Glass is also very safe and impermeable, and, not to forget, very aesthetically pleasing.
If you are shopping for a set honey or one that crystallises easily, you might consider choosing plastic. Flexible, squeezy containers can be easier to use especially for parents, busy people, or those who don't like sticky hands! Just make sure to choose a recyclable BPA-free plastic to be kind to yourself and the environment, too.
Now the time has come to share our favourite offerings available online in the UK. With different flavours and consistencies to suit all budgets, they truly are the bees knees!
|Container||Plastic squeezy bottle|
|Consistency||Changes from runny to set|
|Container||Plastic squeezy bottle|
|Type||Polyfloral forest honey|
Local Honey Man
Happy Belly Select
Spanish Lavender Honey
Unpasteurised British Golden Honey
Organic Zambian Forest Honey
Organic Raw Blossom Honey
Raw Wildflower Honey
No.1 Cut Comb in Acacia Honey
Manuka Honey MGO 50+
Blossom Honey Squeezable
Manuka Honey 5+
From the Lavender Fields of Spain
Straight From the Beekeeper
A Cold-Pressed Honey From Zambia
A Creamy and Floral Tasting Honey
An Ethically-Harvested Choice
Natural Honeycomb in Easy-to-Use Acacia Honey
Pure, Natural and Authentic
A Great Value Everyday Honey
Manuka Honey From an Amazon Brand
A Uniquely-Flavoured Polyfloral Set Honey
|Type||Blossom honey||Wildflower honey||Polyfloral forest honey||Blossom honey||Wildflower honey||Acacia honey||Manuka honey||Blossom honey||Manuka honey||Wildflower honey|
|Container||Glass jar||Glass jar||Glass jar||Plastic squeezy bottle||Glass jar||Glass jar||Glass jar||Plastic squeezy bottle||Glass jar||Glass jar|
|Consistency||Runny||Semi-set||Runny||Runny||Changes from runny to set||Runny||Runny||Runny||Runny||Set|
|Volume||227 g||340 g||380 g||350 g||1.25 kg||250 g||225 g||250 g||340 g||1.5 kg|
There are certain kitchen staples we can't do without and with so many recipe ideas available online, you might find yourself shopping for some new would-be staples! Check out our related articles for some inspiration.
Now you've had all of our sweet tips on choosing a variety based on its characteristics and benefits, hopefully our recommendations will have you making a bee-line for your favourite honey.
Author: Melanie McPhail
Home electronics, PC, camera
Cosmetics and skincare
Food and drinks
Kids and baby
Interior and furniture
DIY and tools
Sports and fitness
Books, CDs, DVDs
Cars and motorcycles
Housing equipment and renovation
Smartphones and mobile phones
Investment and asset management
Credit cards and loans