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honey flavours

Honey Colours and Flavours

By Honey Blog No Comments

With all the different colours, flavours and benefits honey is a really fascinating food which has been used for centuries. It is a product of nature used for a healthy sweetener, delicious recipes and natural remedies.

However, many people think that honey is all the same, just sweet and golden coloured. In fact, there are more than 300 different types of honey in the world, each with its unique colour and flavour. Let’s start with the colour. 

How does honey get its colour

The colour and flavour of natural honey varies depending on the types of flowers and plants that bees collect nectar from. 

The nectar contains a wide range of pigments, which give the honey its colour. For example, some light-coloured honey comes from Acacia and Linden. While some darker honey comes from plants like Thistle.

When an area has many different types of flowers blooming at one time, you can expect your honey harvest to have a wide variety of colour shades, hence the millions of colour possibilities provided by the flowers and plants.

These varieties are mostly named Multi-floral or Wildflower. The colour could be in thousands of shades with a predominant lighter or darker colour depending on the predominant flower nectar. 

The time of year and location also impact the colour of honey. Hence the different flowers and plants blooming in different periods and regions. 

How does honey get its taste 

Honey gets its taste from the unique combination of sugars, acids and other compounds found in the nectar of the flowers and plants the bees collect it from. Once the bees collect the nectar they stored it within their stomach adding enzymes and passing it from one worker bee to another until the water diminishes, at which point the flower nectar becomes honey. Then the worker bees store it in the cells of the honeycomb. This creates a natural sweet taste in the honey.

Honey Pfund Scale

The colour of honey is graded on a scale called the Pfund scale. It was developed by Dr Herman Pfund, who was also known as “the father of American beekeeping.”

This grading system is still used today because it provides an accurate way to measure the light-absorbing component of a honey’s colour known as carotenoid.

The Pfund scale uses two measurements: hue and intensity.

Hue refers to the colour itself (blue, yellow, green), while intensity refers to how dark or bright that colour looks to us.

For example, we would describe blueberry honey as having blue hues with relatively dark intensities, while buckwheat would be described as having greenish hues with lighter intensities than blueberry.

Colours in Pfund Scale

The Pfund scale has seven colour categories:

  1. Water white
  2. Extra white
  3. White
  4. Extra light amber
  5. Light amber
  6. Amber
  7.  Dark amber

The darker the honey is, the higher on the scale it goes towards dark amber. The lighter the colour the lower the colour category.

A general rule of thumb is, the lighter the colour the milder the taste. As we proceed towards darker tones, the honey taste is stronger and more complex.

Few studies suggest that darker-coloured honey has a higher concentration of antioxidants and micro-nutrients, while lighter has a lower concentration.

So, if you want to swap sugar for honey in recipes, we recommend going for lighter-coloured honey to avoid overpowering your dish. And for the darker-coloured honey, just like you would do with a high-shelf rum, we recommend having them on its own, to fully experience and enjoy their complex and rich taste.

Conclusion

The pigments present in the nectar of flowers and plants result in the wide array of colours seen in natural honey. From light Acacia Honey to dark Thistle and Honeydew, each type of honey has its own unique and beautiful colour. Moreover, the combination of natural sugars, acids and other compounds in the flower nectar gives each honey a distinct taste and aroma and benefits. With all this variety in nature, honey is not only a sweet treat for our taste buds, but a natural elixir.