Honey from Crete
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In Greece, the history of beekeeping goes back thousands of years. Honey was appreciated there long before olive oil or wine. Since antiquity, the Greeks have known its great nutritional value and associated it with divine properties, as evidenced by the many archaeological finds and mythology.
Eros, the god of Love, dipped his arrows in honey, before aiming at men and gods. In the Odyssey, Circe seduced the men of Odysseus with cheese, wine and honey. Hippocrates recommended honey to the sick, and Aristotle was the first to scientifically study the bee.
Rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and antioxidants, honey has great nutritional value, provides fewer calories than sugar and has antiseptic and healing properties. Pure honey contains 180 different substances (sugars, minerals, acids, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, healthy bacteria, antioxidants, vitamins A, B, C, E, K and water). Pure, unmixed honey never expires.
Bees produce honey from the nectar of flowers and plants which they mix with certain secretions in their body. They let it dehydrate and keep it in beehives until maturity.
Through this elaboration, the bees also offer us other precious products:
- royal jelly : the queen who feeds on it lives between 5 and 7 years, (instead of 45 days for the larva). Very rare, it is only secreted for a few days by the nurse bees. It is very rich in proteins, vitamin B, amino acids including that of rejuvenation. Royal jelly is therefore given regenerative, antibacterial, antifungal properties ...
- pollen : it is the male seed of flowers and essential food for the bee, which transforms it into balls. The pollen contains proteins, amino acids, mineral salts in very large quantities, vitamins, antioxidants. By foraging the flowers to extract the nectar that they transform into honey, the bees roll up the pollen on their hind legs. They form small balls that they bring back to the hive to use as food. These balls contain, in addition to the pollen of various plant species, enzymes. Bee pollen stimulates the immune system and boosts the body. To be consumed as a cure, twice a year.
- propolis : a brown material collected from the buds and bark of trees, to isolate the hive. It is composed of resin, wax, fatty acids, essential oils, pollen ...
Crete, paradise of bees and honey
The richness of the Cretan flora, with its 3,500 varieties of plants, and the mild climate, allow the production of an exceptionally refined and unique substance. Famous all over the world for its quality, aroma and rich flavor, Cretan honey is one of the best in the world.
With 1,300,000 swarms and an annual production of 12,000 tonnes, Greece is the third largest producer of honey in the EU, after Spain and France.
The season lasts from March to November, July being the month of thyme honey, September that of pine, May and September those of heather.
Greece produces honey from pine (55-60%), fir (5-10%) and thyme (15%), which is its flagship.
The only sweetener used by the Cretans was honey for a long time. It is only a short time since (powdered) sugar made its appearance. Lump sugar is not yet present on Cretan tables.
Honey is the basis of Greek cuisine and is used in baking and cooking. It is a delicious accompaniment to Greek yogurt, sprinkled with dried fruit, nuts or almonds, and loukoumades - small Greek donuts. It plays a major role in the preparation of many cakes (such as melomakarona , baklava or galaktoboureko), as well as meats, such as stifado or Corfu kapama. With a little vinegar and orange juice, it becomes a perfect seasoning for salads.
Veronica and her husband Yiannis live in the heart of the Cretan mountains with their son Yiorgos. All three produce exceptional honey in small quantities. Their production of honey, Pollen and Propolis allows them to live in the heart of nature, far from all the hustle and bustle of modern life. A choice they made more than ten years ago, and that they do not regret in the least!