Rosh Hashanah boasts many signs, one of which is the apple in honey with the well-known saying "a good and sweet year", but what do we really know about the sweet and sticky syrup? Here are some things about honey that may surprise you.
The way to the jar
The way honey is made is a kind of wonder: the bees collect and suck nectar from various flowers and plants, which does not enter their stomach but into a unique organ called the "Honey Stomach", where the production of honey takes place and from where it goes to the honeycombs. Besides making the honey, in this process the bee is also responsible for spreading the pollen of the flowers to other places, which ensures the continuation of agriculture.
The types of plants
If in childhood we learned that bees collect nectar from flowers, you'll be surprised to discover that it's not just that. There are various types of honey that come from different types of flowers and plants. In Israel, most honey products are derived from the nectar of wildflowers, but you can also find honey produced from citrus trees, eucalyptus, avocado, sunflowers, and even various herbaceous plants like rosemary, sage, and more.
In the Himalayan mountains, there are plants that are considered toxic or are a source of psychoactive substances, and the honey produced by bees in this region is sometimes called "mad honey," which is also used for healing purposes in various cultures.
The virtues of honey
Many will attest that honey is a source of medicinal and health benefits, even though it is not rich in nutritional ingredients and mainly consists of sugars. The reason for this is the antioxidants present in honey, which are also found in apples. Therefore, combining the two during Rosh Hashanah enriches the body with antioxidants that contribute to our health more than consuming them separately.
In Germany, for example, bee pollen, which contains the pollen used in honey production, is sold as a remedy on its own. The antioxidants in honey, along with vitamins and minerals, help increase blood flow rates that contribute to heart health and lower levels of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
Although honey is basically composed of sugar, unlike white sugar, the bees' nectar in honey is a rich liquid that contains about 250 different substances, including amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of honey contains 304 calories and a teaspoon of honey contains approximately 20-30 calories. Regarding minerals, honey consists of over 30 different minerals, but in relatively low amounts, similar to its vitamin concentration. The enzymes found in honey have properties that improve the digestive system.
Types of honey
When it comes to the types of honey - you can find two: raw honey sold "straight from the beehive", and processed honey that has undergone pasteurization processes that make it less sticky, and extend its shelf life. The raw honey is more cloudy and liquid and contains tiny amounts of waxy yeast and pollen, but is more effective in cases of healing and dressing severe wounds.
The color of the honey can range from light golden amber to dark brown, and the differences are due to the mineral content. When the content is greater, the color of the honey will be darker. As for the taste, it depends on the flowers from which the nectar is taken.