Find out with these 11 little known facts about Sage Honey — from the Honey Pacifica beekeeper himself!
Sweet, sticky, sustaining honey — a treat that actually supports your health! But the benefits you can garner from honey greatly depend on its quality and form.
Think raw honey first.
This winter, we’re featuring raw Cold Packed Sage Honey by Honey Pacifica, as it’s unheated, unfiltered and unprocessed — just as nature intended.
We had the pleasure of chatting with John Poto, who is co-owner of Honey Pacifica in Downey, California and a certified beekeeper. Below, John shares some inside-the-hive facts about what makes Sage Honey so nourishing and delectable.
As John will tell you, raw honey in its completely unheated form is naturally thick and creamy with all of the enzymes and nutrients intact, even the pollen and propolis fragments (you can also learn more below about the health benefits of raw honey).
The taste is crisp and delicate, as the Sage Honey comes from the slopes of California's Sierra Nevada range and is produced by black sage that blooms between spring and early summer. Sage Honey is especially unique in that it’s raw — and yet still pourable — for out-of-this world cooking and baking.
In addition, truly raw honey is difficult to find. Even most store bought honey that says "raw" has actually been heated so it's easier to pour into the jars. Honey Pacifica uses no heat, period. Rather, they cold pack the honey by hand, an arduous task that ensures you get a true raw honey that retains its freshness and vibrant nutritional composition.
As you can tell, we at Corganic just love this stuff! It’s an amazing natural sweetener that fits into most real food health regimens, and can easily replace sugar. Indeed, honey sweetened drinks, dishes and special treats that are made with wholesome ingredients can fuel the body with energy - instead of leaving behind that lethargic food coma often induced by processed sugars.
Our favorite way to enjoy Honey Pacifica Sage Honey right now is in this super simple, nutritious hot cocoa recipe.
Here are a few more quick and yummy ways we enjoy Sage Honey:
- Mixed with kefir;
- With peanut butter for a kids’ snack;
- By adding just a dab on a spoonful of our delicious Ancient Organics Grass Fed Ghee for a dessert;
- By taking a bit with some Honey Pacifica Bee Pollen for a natural boost (perfect for athletes!).
John Poto of Honey Pacifica on why Sage Honey is the bees knees
Now, here’s what John has to say about the wonders of Sage Honey...
1. Honey Pacifica is a 40-plus year old family company. “My father, brother and I started Honey Pacifica back in ‘78 in a residential neighborhood, where we had a nice corner lot. It was a hobby that became a business. We got to a point back in the day where we had totaled up 42 hives in the backyard and said, “We have to do something with this.” Now we have 1,400 hives. We have some land where we keep some during the year, but mostly, they’re on other peoples’ farms.”
2. The beekeepers are happy. “My wife Nina is my partner in the beekeeping, and I have a couple other guys who help with moving bees. We work on average three to four days a week. Sometimes we’re out there everyday of the week. I love the freedom, not being stuck in an office and being involved in nature. It’s fun to watch the bees grow up and make new hives and develop. We wear a suit but not that kind of suit! It’s hard work but it’s so worth it.”
3. Sage Honey requires a perfect climate combo. “We found out a long time ago if we kept it real basic then that yields the best honey. Part of it is finding the right areas to keep the bees in. For the Sage Honey, you have to truck bees to the mountains. It takes a certain amount of rain, then when the sage is blooming, you need a certain amount of heat - between 80° and 90° with no wind. It’s not an easy honey to produce, so its a real prized one when you get it.”
4. There are upwards of 70,000 bees in a hive. “Check out the video - I filmed it one year when we were in the sage.
You will see how populated the hives are, how many bees it takes. Sage is one of the honeys that when they make it, the hives get used and they make a lot. Sometimes there are 50,000 to 70,000 hot bees in a hive and they’re all working toward the same goal. You will see when the beekeepers crack the hives open - what they make is amazing. They make five to 10 pounds of honey when things are going good.”
5. Bee beards! “Toward the afternoon, when the bees want to cool themselves off, you will see a “bee beard,” which is a mass of bees in front of the hives. Those bees are all sucking the hot air out of the hive and allowing the cool air to come in. When you you see the bee beard and the whole yard gives you an overwhelming smell of sage, that’s when you know you’re making honey. It’s just wonderful.”
6. Sage Honey is superior to the store bought stuff: “Try a new flavor and a new consistency of honey. This is cold-pressed, hand bottled honey that’s created by happy and healthy bees and free of pesticides and chemicals. Our bees live in the fields, farms, and foothills of Southern California, which in our opinion, has some of the best weather on earth. Not only do our bees get over 300 days of sunshine, but there are ample flowers, trees and crops in the area that provide the nectar for the best tasting raw honey.”
7. Sage Honey has a great consistency: “The Sage Honey is my favorite honey of the bunch. I love the taste and the consistency; very silky in the mouth and smooth.”
8. Sage Honey takes longer to crystallize: “Sage has also been a popular honey because it’s one of the few honeys that’s raw but still stays in the liquid form. If you come to our showroom, you will see most of the honeys crystallize at different speeds. Sage Honey will eventually crystallize, but takes longer because it contains more fructose than most honeys. This might sound like it makes the honey sweeter, but that taste is actually mild - and the extra fructose gives the sage honey a lower glycemic index than most other honeys.”
9. Sage Honey is fantastic for cooking and entertaining: “The Sage Honey is thicker than the regular, traditionally heated honeys because it’s raw, but it’s still clear and pourable. Most chefs actually prefer this type of honey, too, as it sweetens dishes without imparting too much honey flavor.
- I don’t eat wheat, so we make bread and muffins and things like that with almond and coconut flour, and use Sage Honey as a substitute for sugar.
- There’s a delicious and fun Paleo recipe for chocolate chip muffins, and for the topping, I use our Sage Honey (instead of brown sugar), mixed with nuts and cinnamon.
- You can mix the Sage Honey with spices of your choice and make a lovely sauce or marinade for barbecued chicken… You can use hot sauce, red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar - any spice you want and brush it on the chicken toward the end of its cooking time.
- When it gets hot in California, I make herbal raspberry iced tea with a bit of Sage Honey.
- If you’re putting it in a jar or on a table for a nice fancy dinner party or brunch, the color is just fabulous.”
10. Customers use it for their health. “People have told me they purchase our honey for their allergies.* Many say they’re using it instead of sugar for health reasons. I also believe sage is a little bit lower on the glycemic index than other honeys. People use it for burns and put it in between their toes for fungus.* They try to make salts and ointments with it for all kinds of skin conditions and acne.* Some people even use it on their pets! Studies say that honey is like antiseptic and fights bacteria.*”
11. Happy bees make lots of honey - and don’t care about stinging humans: "The bees are so happy when they're making honey. You can walk among thousands of bees flying around, and they won’t even look at you.
If you want to do a quick test, you you can go around and try to lift the hive; you want to be able to lift it off the ground. Another thing to do is tap on the lid, if you feel a hollow sound, it’s not good. If you feel a thud, you know you’ve got honey. It’s just a feeling.”
Raw honey and your health
Raw honey is the prime, sweet liquid that honeybees produce from the concentrated nectar of flowers. Unlike processed honey that’s been heated and filtered after it was gathered from the hive, raw honey is pure, and maintains its nutritional value.
- Raw honey can help boost energy.
- As we touched on above, swapping refined sugar for raw honey can help maintain a healthy weight.*
- It supports athletic performance.
- People use raw honey for skin care, such as in holistic products to help calm acne and eczema symptoms.*
- Raw honey is supportive of digestive health (more info below).
The nutritional composition of honey is as follows:
“Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution with approximately 17.1 percent water. Fructose is the predominant sugar at 38.5 percent, followed by glucose at 31 percent. Disaccharides, trisaccharides and oligosaccharides are present in much smaller quantities. Besides carbohydrates, honey contains small amounts of protein, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Honey is known to be rich in both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, including catalase, ascorbic acid, flavonoids and alkaloids. Although appearing only in trace amounts, honey also contains about 18 different amino acids.”
- Crane, E. 1976. "Honey: A Comprehensive Survey," Corrected edition. International Bee Research Association/Heinemann, London; Berenbaum, M., Robinson, G. and Unnevehr, L. 1995-1996. Antioxidant properties of Illinois honeys. University of Illinois.
Further, raw honey contains all the pollen, enzymes and other micronutrients that are usually filtered out or destroyed by heat when the honey is processed.
To put the nutritional composition of raw honey into perspective, disaccharides and polysaccharides must be broken down into monosaccharides before the body can absorb them. People with IBS, Crohns, colitis, etc. have a difficult time breaking down foods, which means they have a difficult time breaking down most sugars. Unlike other sugars high in disaccharides and polysaccharides, the monosaccharide sugars in raw honey go right into digestion without having to be broken down in the digestive tract.* Therefore, Sage Honey can compliment digestive protocols such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).
Note: It’s best to first consult a physician before taking raw honey, especially if you have allergic reactions.