Honey has been used as a natural sweetener and herbal remedy for centuries. But have you wondered what makes one type of honey different from another? Different types of honey have their own taste, texture and color depending on the flowers pollinated by bees. Honey varieties are usually divided into monofloral (unifloral) or multifloral honey. Monofloral is honey derived from one type of flower by bees while multifloral is derived from different types of flowers.
If you have wandered into a local farmers market or a gourmet store and think of different types of honey, we can help you decode them.
Different types of honey
The most popular types of honey include manuka honey, acacia honey, clover, orange flower, wildflower, and lindon honey. Let us see how to identify different types of honey and the best ways to use them.
Some types of honey have a creamy texture and floral taste. Photo courtesy: Shutterstock
Manuka honey has gained popularity in the last few years due to its famous antibacterial properties. This velvety-textured honey is not very sweet and has slight nut tones with distinct bitter herbal aftertaste. It comes from bees that pollute Manuka shrub flowers (Leptospermum scoparium) for New Zealand. These manuka flowers bloom only for 2–6 weeks per year, which is one reason why manuka honey has a comparatively thick value.
One of the most in-demand types of honey, this light colored golden liquid is typically sold as Acacia honey, American Acacia or grasshopper honey. Bees derive it from the flowers of the black grasshopper tree (Robinia pseudosecia L.), also known as false acacia. While it can be enjoyed on a hot toast, its taste like its light floral vanilla makes it a perfect pairing with things like ricotta, pecorino, and gorgonzola.
If a bottle is labeled as honey, it is most likely clover honey. Sour flowers by bees from clover, it has a sweet floral flavor that makes it suitable for use in tea, dripped on top of pancakes, and for sweetening cakes and bread.
Alfalfa honey is like clover honey, which you consider specific honey. This honey also has a mild amber color and a taste for sweet flowers. Also known as succulent honey, it is brewed by bees from alfalfa (Medicago sativa) flowers, which contribute to its modest grass following.
If you are fond of strong flavored honey, then there is a type of honey with its delicious taste. As the name suggests it comes from bees pollinating bee flowers. It is dark colored honey, which is known to have a higher antioxidant level than light colored pigments.
Known for its antibacterial properties, eucalyptus honey comes from bees that mainly grow on eucalyptus flowers. It has a caramel flavor with a slight medicinal aroma and is best enjoyed in herbal teas.
Lavender honey, which is considered a gourmet product, is made by bees, which have been directed primarily from Spain, France, Portugal and Morocco to collect nectar from lavender flowers in bloom. Its delicate lavender aroma and naturally creamy texture is best enjoyed when dripping on fresh fruits like figs and berries.
Orange Blossom Honey
Like lavender honey, orange blossom honey can take you to the source of its creation – an orange grove. This amber-colored liquid has a trademark sour taste from fragrant orange blossoming flowers, which bloom in a warm temperate climate. Orange blossom honey has a thick texture due to its high sugar content, which lends itself to cooking delicious honey cakes or breads.
Linden honey, also known as basswood or lime honey, is characterized by green when it is fresh that fades to yellow or light amber over time. Collected by bees from delicious fragrant marigold flowers, sweet honey has a distinct lime flavor and a slight menthol aroma. But don’t stop it. It can be used just like regular honey and is often used in folklore to reduce cold and fever symptoms.
Blueberry honey is a prized item because it belongs to the states of Maine and Michigan of American origin. This full-flavored butter with a blueberry finish is perfect for honey cooking. You can use it as a glaze for grilled chicken, incorporate it into marinades, or make interesting cocktails.
Sage honey is usually sold directly by beekeepers or select organic shops and is primarily produced in California, USA. Collected by bees from the sage family of plants, this honey has a deeply sweet taste. It also crystallizes easily, making it a favorite as a sugar substitute. You can use it to bake barbeque marinades, herbal teas, as well as cakes.
Palmetto honey, or saw palmetto honey, is a special honey obtained from Florida that pollutes the saw palmetto flower by bees. If you’re not in Florida or its surrounding states, it’s hard to get your hands on this full-flavored smokey-tasting honey. This golden colored honey has a bold taste and pairs beautifully with strong flavors like mustard, prositutto or even southern sweet tea. It is not the same as sabal pamato honey, which has a subtle flavor.
Macadamia Nut Blossom Honey
This exotic raw honey honey is hard to find but well worth the trouble. Macadamia Nut Blossom honey has a rich silky texture and a tropical butterscotch flavor. So, you should not think twice before serving and enjoying ice cream, hot slices of cake, a simple peanut butter sandwich, or drizzled with fruit salad.
Berries honey, often used in Ayurveda, is the nectar made by bees from the flowers of the Indian blackberry (berries). Like the fruit, honey is also recommended to increase the speed of healing wounds for people suffering from diabetes. This deep amber colored liquid has a mild, sweet taste and can be purchased online from reputable websites such as Amazon.
Wildflower honey is used to describe multifloral honey because bees produce it from multiple flowers in a particular area at a particular time. This is why it is difficult to reproduce the taste of wildflower honey. Bottles usually specify the area that contains honey.