Alfalfa honey is from the sweet
You’ll never be surprised to hear, Alfalfa honey is from the sweet, sticky honey of the little purple blossoms that grow on alfalfa fields (Medicago sativa) in the United States. Although it is mainly used as feed for livestock, alfalfa is not a true grass like wheat or hay. Instead, it is an underground stem bulb, belonging to the same Phyllanthus family with beans and peas. It grows best in cool, moist soil that receives little or no fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides. It doesn’t flower until the late summer or fall, so it will not bear fruit during those months either.
The benefit of Bee Pollen and Alfalfa Honey
Research conducted by the University of California-Davis found that alfalfa honey contained more antioxidant compounds than did ordinary honey, and it had more antibiotic and antifungal properties than did other honey. These findings are important because many of our modern-day health problems result from exposure to bacteria in our air and our food. In addition, farmers have been found to use high concentrations of antibiotics and insecticides on alfalfa fields, even when the honey has not been processed or treated with chemicals. The ingestion of bee pollen has also been found to help prevent asthma and other upper respiratory infections. Another benefit of bee pollen and alfalfa honey is that it contains significant amounts of manganese, copper, zinc, and selenium, which are healthy minerals for the body. Menstrual pains, fatigue, and PMS have also been linked to depleted soils, so it makes sense to replenish these nutrients.
Purchase Alfalfa Honey
If you decide to make your own raw honey, it’s best to purchase alfalfa honey that has been run through a centrifuge. Avoid any that has been processed or has had any additives added to it. Many companies advertise that their honey contains a special blend of enzymes and other “beneficial” ingredients, but it’s usually just sugar, water, and a small amount of heat. The longer the honey is allowed to undergo its grinding process, the more sugar, water, and other solids are removed. This results in honey that is delectable, but no healthier than any store-bought type.
Different Types of Beekeepers
For anyone who has tried to make their own raw honey, they can testify that making your own is much easier than buying it from a commercial beekeeper. It may be necessary to gather some wild alfalfa flowers in order to harvest the pollen, but collecting enough to produce a sufficient amount for a daily dosage is not difficult. Once the flowers are gathered, the bees will deposit them on the combs or hives foundation. There are many different types of beekeepers out there, so it’s usually not difficult to locate a local farmer who is willing to harvest the pollen for you. Many homeowners like the fact that there are no chemicals used when making their own honey.
Varieties of Alfalfa Honey
Some varieties of alfalfa honey are produced with dark coloured, sweet-smelling flowers. This type of honey is marketed under several names including, but not limited to, dark honey, wildflower honey, horticultural honey, and Spanish honey. The flowers can vary from being dark-coloured to being white, pink, purple, blue, green or amber coloured. Spanish honey is comparable to a sweet orange in taste.
Aside from the health benefits, there are a number of cosmetic benefits associated with raw honey. It tends to leave a light shine on the skin than regular honey or other types of honey. Raw alfalfa honey can often be purchased as a concentrated liquid concentrate in jar form. A few brands sell both the liquid concentrate and the beeswax candle wax that comes from harvesting the nectar from the plants.
Antibacterial Activity of Alfalfa Honey
The antibacterial activity of alfalfa honey is also being researched. Preliminary studies indicate that the nectar from this source is beneficial for reducing the risk of infections. The antibacterial effects may stem from a number of different chemicals including, but not limited to, terpenes, flavonoids and propyl gallate esters. Terpenes are present in tea tree oil and may be responsible for the antimicrobial effect. Some researchers believe that the antibacterial effect is due to propyl gallate esters, which act as antioxidants. Other studies seem to dispute this claim.
Since the honey is generally sweet, it has a mild flavour. That makes it suitable for a wide variety of culinary uses. In addition, it maintains its natural aroma even when heated to make cookies, cakes or candy. It would be interesting to see if the aroma would maintain its freshness when it is stored for several months. One research project does indicate that heating the alfalfa honey prior to storage seems to reduce the aroma.