One question often gets into honey-loving people's minds: Which honey is better – unifloral honey or multifloral? What's the difference between these two?
It's a question that often triggers fierce debates.
Another question is: Why is uni-floral honey always more expensive?
We will cover these questions in this post.
We, at Zizira, know which is authentic honey as we work with ethical beekeepers and source honey directly from them. You can read more about us and about our region here.
Read our story – how our conscious business is making a difference to the community of farmers of our state Meghalaya, in the Northeast corner of India.
To answer the first question:
When it comes to composition and nutritional value, the two types of honey aren't really different.
Every type of pure and raw honey comprises of many beneficial components:
So, whether you use uni-floral or multi-floral honey, you still get its basic goodness. Each variety, though, has its own uniqueness of taste and flavor. That is, provided, it's raw and naturally processed honey.
And to answer the second question:
It is true uni-floral honey commands a premium. That's because of its refined taste and distinctive flavor.
It happens when the bees get their nectar and pollen from places where one type of plant dominates the others.
Uni-floral honey's price is always several notches higher than multi-floral honey, justifiably so precisely due to this reason: the dominant blossom's nectar and pollen determine the taste, flavor and properties.
The premium quality of uni-floral honey also depends upon geographical area and plant species.
In other words, the more exclusive the geographical area or the plant species, the more premium the honey. To name a few examples: Orange Blossom honey from Meghalaya, Hawthorn honey from Slovakia and Manuka honey from New Zealand.
Multi-floral honey lovers swear by their favorite honey. It lets you catch, they say, the taste of a thousand flowers on your tongue. Sample any multi-floral, such as wildflower honey from Meghalaya or elsewhere, and you'll know what they mean. Where else can you savor multiple flavors in a spoonful?
Scoop in a spoonful of multi-floral honey, place it on your tongue, close your eyes and actually feel the taste. You're sure to discern subtle hints of multiple scents!
But uni-floral honey enthusiasts have their own argument too.
Who needs the scent of a thousand flowers when you can sink yourself in the exhilarating aroma of sweet, single blooms, they say.
For example, take the orange blossom honey from Meghalaya or any other place. Or even litchi, or mustard honey. Each honey type exudes that blossom's unique and unadulterated flavor. You can't miss the trace of that flower's enchanting fragrance that clings to the amber liquid and lingers on in senses long after you've downed it!
Every spoonful of uni-floral honey will delight you with that signature tang dripping from the flowers that dominate the nectar foraging grounds of the bees.
The only difference lies in the taste which, of course, is your personal preference. Your palate naturally dictates the terms here.
Honestly, one type of honey is as good as the other, nutrition-wise. Taste and health-giving properties will differ from type to type.
The taste and flavor of honey along with its health and nutrition benefits is common knowledge. Its use as a food dates back to pre-historic times as we now know from the Altamira Caves paintings in Spain that date back more than 15,000 years. Medicinal use of honey dates back at least three thousand years. Enough research's been done that prove honey's beneficial effects on health.
We are quite aware of the honey's great health-boosting properties. Honey is:
These are only a few of honey's healing properties, all of which are proven by research the world over.
Honey is the food the bees make for the queen bee, their young ones, and their workers.
What's good for bees is good for humans too!
The main factors that influence honey's physical and chemical compositions, properties and classifications are:
Now, let's see how the two types of honey compare in their physical and chemical compositions.
This scientific paper revealed an interesting finding. Twenty-six samples from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India – fifteen uni-floral and eleven multi-floral – were collected for the study. The analyses established that there are really no major differences in individual constituents in either type of honey.
The table below illustrates the key constituents and their values revealed by the study:
|SI||Parameters||Multi-floral||Uni-floral||Indian Agmark Standards for Quality|
|1||Mean Specific Density||1.31||1.33||Less than 1.35 -1.40|
|2||Total Soluble Solids (TSS)||76.82||75.80||Minimum 65 - 70|
|3||Mean Moisture Content||14.98||15.85||Maximum 20-25%|
|4||Ash Content %||0.3745||0.3587||Less than 0.5|
|8||Reducing Sugars %||58.68||58.58|
This study confirmed that there is not much difference in the quality parameters of uni-floral and multi-floral kinds of honey from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
Some notable differences are:
Both types of honey, however, have similar percentages of reducing sugars.
What About the Quality?
The physical and chemical parameters of both types of honey agree with both Indian and International standards of quality and so are equally good for use as food or medicine.
Is there a more effective method of study?
Yes. It's called melissopalynology, or the study of pollen in honey.
This research was conducted on 18 samples collected from 9 districts of Bongaigaon, Assam, Northeast India. The study found that bees traveled great distances to forage for nectar as revealed by the great diversity in pollen types.
The researchers identified a total of 44 types of pollen, 66.66% of which were found to be uni-floral.
That means one type of pollen from one particular plant type has preponderance over the others. That pollen type ranged in dominance from 45.77% to 79.89% in 13 of the 18 honey samples.
So, for honey to be uni-floral, the predominant pollen has to be above 45% as the table below indicates.
|Predominant Pollen Types||Secondary Pollen Types||Important Minor Pollen Types||Minor Pollen Types||Other Pollen|
|Above 45%||16 – 44%||3 – 15%||1 to less than 3%||Less the 1%|
The remaining 5 samples were classed as multi-floral and had no prevalence of predominant pollen type above 45%. The secondary pollen present ranged from 16.50% to 40.57%.
Yet another study found that bees are opportunistic creatures. They prefer easily accessible sources that provide them with both nectar and pollen. This explains why, in Meghalaya's orange blossom honey, for example, there's a predominance of orange flower nectar and pollen.
It is more difficult to obtain uni-floral honey than multi-floral. In uni-floral honey, one type of blossom predominates other blossoms in the bees' foraging grounds. As these flowers are more likely to be seasonal, beekeepers have to time the placement of their hives accordingly. Compared to multi-floral honey which is available in all seasons, uni-floral honey tends to be less common and has a supply deficit too.
Secondly, because raw uni-floral honey usually takes on the medicinal properties of the dominant plant species it is high in popularity.
And, apart from its unique and distinctive taste, it has proven and tangible health benefits that hike its demand in the market.
Like we said before, your palate is the decider if you want honey for the love of it.
One thing's for sure, whichever type of honey you choose, there's no way to lose!
We have the best of both types of honey at Zizira.
Reach out to us for pure, raw and natural honey sourced directly from beekeepers like Bah Rishot and others of Meghalaya.