The History of Honey in Batroun
Batroun is known for its citrus groves, especially lemon trees, that surround the city and is also famous for its fresh Lemonade, but Batroun has another claim to fame as it is home to some of the oldest and most traditional beekeepers in Lebanon.
According to the Food Heritage Foundation, honey collection from natural beehives can be traced back to the late Stone Age in the ancient Middle Eastern region. In the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations, honey was used as a medicine, a preservative, and a sweetener. In Lebanon, honey was mentioned in religious texts as a celestial food and praised for its health and medicinal properties.
Beekeeping in Batroun dates to at least the 18th century when the town was a major trading hub between Beirut and Tripoli.
The beekeepers of Batroun used clay pots to house their bees and placed them on rooftops or in gardens.
They harvested honey twice a year: once in spring, when the citrus trees were in bloom, and once in autumn, when the wildflowers were abundant.
The honey was then stored in glass jars or wooden barrels and sold at local markets or exported to neighboring countries.
Today, beekeeping in Batroun is still a family tradition, passed down from generation to generation. The beekeepers use modern wooden hives, but still follow the same methods and techniques as their ancestors. They move their hives according to the seasons and the availability of nectar sources, such as citrus, thyme, oak, cedar, juniper, sage, rosemary, lavender, clover, eucalyptus, and many more. They produce several types of honey, each with its own color, flavor, aroma, and health benefits.
The Benefits of Honey
Honey has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various ailments such as coughs, sore throats, wounds, burns, ulcers, stomach problems, skin diseases, allergies, and more. Honey also has antioxidant properties that protect the body from free radicals and oxidative stress. Honey can boost the immune system, enhance energy levels, improve digestion, and promote wound healing.
The Types of Honey in Batroun
Honey comes in different colors, depending on the source of nectar or honeydew the bees collect.
Some of the most common types of honey in Batroun are:
– Citrus honey: This type comes from the nectar of lemon, orange, grapefruit, and other citrus trees that grow abundantly in the area. Citrus honey has a light-yellow color, a sweet and tangy taste, and a refreshing aroma.
– Thyme honey: This is another type of honey that is highly valued. Thyme honey comes from the nectar of wild thyme plants that grow on the hills and mountains of Lebanon. Thyme honey has a dark amber color, a strong and aromatic taste, and a distinctive smell.
– Oak honey: This is a type of honeydew honey that comes from the sap of oak trees that are common in Lebanon. Oak honey has a dark brown color, a malty and woody taste, and a mild aroma.
– Cedar honey: This is another type of honeydew honey that comes from the sap of cedar trees that are native to Lebanon. Cedar honey has a reddish-brown color, a caramel and spicy taste, and a pleasant aroma.
– Juniper honey: This is a rare type of honeydew honey that comes from the sap of juniper trees that grow in high altitudes in Lebanon. Juniper honey has a dark color, a bitter and herbal taste, and a strong aroma.
Choosing Good Quality Honey
When buying honey, it is important to look for some indicators that can help you choose the best quality and the most authentic product. Here are some tips to follow:
– Look at the label: The label should indicate the type, the origin, the producer, and the expiry date of the honey. It should also state that the honey is pure, natural, and unheated. Avoid honey that has added ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup, or artificial flavors.
– Look at the color: The color of the honey should match the type of nectar or honeydew that it comes from. For example, citrus honey should be light yellow, while oak honey should be dark brown. Avoid honey that has an unnatural or inconsistent color.
– Look at the consistency: The consistency of the honey should be thick and viscous, not runny or watery. Honey that is too thin may indicate that it has been diluted with water or heated to reduce its crystallization. Avoid honey that drips easily from a spoon or a knife.
– Look at the crystallization: Honey crystallization is a natural process that occurs due to many factors such as the nectar source, the ratio of different sugars found in honey, and the presence of sediments that might stay in honey after extraction. Crystallization does not affect the quality or the taste of the honey, but rather indicates that it is pure and unheated.
– Taste the flavor: The flavor of the honey should reflect the type of nectar or honeydew that it comes from. For example, citrus honey should have a sweet and tangy taste, while thyme honey should have a strong and aromatic taste. Avoid honey that has a bland or artificial flavor.