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Honey

Honey is a sweet and viscous fluid produced by bees and other insects from the nectar of flowers. The flavor and color of the substance is largely determined by the type of the flowers from which the nectar is gathered. Common flavours of honey include orange blossom[?] honey, tupelo[?] honey, and clover honey. In Australia, Tasmanian leatherwood honey[?] is considered a delicacy for its unique flavour. Manuka honey from New Zealand is said by some to have healing properties.

A side-effect of honey collection is pollination, crucial for flowering plants.

The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, spreading on bread or toast, and adding to various beverages such as tea.

Honey is also used in traditional folk medicine. It is an excellent natural preservative. Honey is, however, not always healthy. Because it is gathered from flowers in the wild, there are certain times and places when the honey produced is highly toxic. Rhododendrons and azaleas have nectar that is highly poisonous to humans although harmless to bees, producing deadly honey. In some areas of the world the hives are emptied immediately after the flowering season and cleaned of any residue to prevent accidental poisoning. There are stories that poisoned honey was used in warfare in ancient times, but they are unverifiable.

Honey is also potentially extremely dangerous for infants. This is because it may contain small quantities of botulinum[?] spores. While these spores are harmless to adults, an infant's digestive system is not yet developed enough to destroy them, and the spores could potentially cause infant botulism. For this reason, it is advised that honey should NOT be given to children under the age of 18 months. This especially applies to unpasturised or 'raw' honey, which has not been heat-treated.

Because of its high sugar concentration, honey kills bacteria by osmotically lysing them, meaning that it will not spoil. The only way that natural airborne yeasts can become active is for water to be added to honey, diluting it. As long as the moisture content remains under 18% nothing will grow in honey. Natural, raw, honey varies from 14% to 18% moisture content. Raw honey also contains enzymes that help in its digestion. Honey was found in one of the Egyptian pyramids, estimated at several thousand years old, and it was still good.

See also food, drink, list of cocktails, list of recipes



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