The quality of honey depends on the time of gathering. The most favorable honey, also known as prime honey, is probably honey that is collected at the commencement of summer since flowers are abundant during this time of the year.
Generally, honey of spring is preferred to that of summer. This type of honey usually has a whitish color, thick in texture and has a pleasant taste and aroma.
Another big factor that influences honey quality is the nature of plants that bees get nectar from. Wild thyme is known as the most superior source of honey.
Honey comes in many different varieties, originating from different types of flowers and plants.
Honey made from specific plants may have a better aroma and flavor than others because of the unique substance that comes from those plants. The source of nectar also determines the properties of honey, for example, manuka, heather, and buckwheat honey are known to have higher protein and antimicrobial properties.
The properties also influence honey flavor so you may find that some varieties of honey taste a somewhat bitter due to certain amino acids contained in them. The mineral content and antioxidants in different types of honey may also vary depending on the nectar source. Honey from conifers, for example, tends to have higher mineral content.
Beekeepers in Yemen (producer of the famous Hadramaut honey) found that bees fed on natural plants produce higher quality honey compared to those fed in cultivated vegetation areas.
Flavor also indicates the quality of honey, and flavor may depend on the way that honey is extracted from the comb. Honey that has the best flavor usually comes from the purest and whitest comb and is expressed without heat or pressure.
The second best quality is honey that is expressed with heat. Heat – whether the source is fire or the sun – actually accelerates the flow of honey. Another method of extraction, which produces honey of less quality than the previous two, is by cutting the combs and pressing them with hands, spatula or spoon.
Learn about the standards and methods that are used to measure honey quality.