One question often eats into honey-loving people's minds: which honey is better – unifloral or multifloral?
What's the difference between these two?
It's a question that often triggers fierce debates.
Another question is: why is unifloral honey always more expensive?
To answer the first question:
What's the Difference Between Uniflora and Multiflora Honey
When it comes to composition and nutritional value both types of honey aren't really different.
Honey is a mixture. It comprises of many beneficial components:
- natural sugars, mainly fructose and glucose
- amino acids
- flavonoids and polyphenols.
So, while properties, classification and taste differ, whether you eat unifloral or multifloral you still get the honey's unique taste and flavour. That is, provided it's raw and naturally processed.
And to answer the second question:
Why is Unifloral Honey Always More Expensive?
It is true unifloral honey commands a premium and valued status.
That's because of its refined taste and distinctive flavour.
How does that happen?
It happens when the bees get their nectar and pollen from places where one type of plant dominates the others.
Unifloral honey's price is always several notches higher than multifloral honey, justifiably so precisely due to this reason: the dominant blossom's nectar and pollen determine the honey dominant taste, flavour and properties.
The premium quality of unifloral 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.
Arguments of Honey Enthusiasts
Multifloral honey lovers swear by their favourite honey. It lets you catch, they say, the taste of a thousand flowers on your tongue. Sample any multifloral, such as wildflower honey from Meghalaya or elsewhere, and you'll know what they mean. Where else can you savour multiple flavours on a spoonful?
Scoop in a spoonful of multifloral 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 unifloral 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 unduplicated flavour. 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 unifloral 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.
Honey's Health Goodness
The taste and flavour 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:
- Immune system modulatory
- Cancer preventive
- Cardiovascular function and Metabolism-boosting
- Gut health-improving because of its prebiotic properties
- Wounds and burns healing
These are only a few of honey's healing properties, all of which are proven by research the world over.
Unifloral and Multifloral Honey: A Physical and Chemical Comparison
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:
- nectar-providing plant species
- geographical location
- harvesting methods
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 unifloral and eleven multifloral – 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:
|SL||Parameters||Multifloral||Unifloral||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 unifloral and multifloral kinds of honey from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
Some notable differences are:
- Unifloral honey sample revealed higher values of specific density, moisture and potassium.
- Multifloral honey showed higher percentages of TSS, ash, Nitrogen, Sodium and Potassium.
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.
Comparison by Pollen Count and Predominance
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 travelled 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 unifloral.
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 unifloral, 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 multifloral 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.
Why is Unifloral Honey More Expensive?
It is more difficult to obtain unifloral honey than multifloral. In unifloral 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 multifloral honey which is available in all seasons, unifloral honey tends to be less common and has a supply deficit too.
Secondly, because raw unifloral 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.
Which Honey Should You Choose Then, Unifloral or Multifloral?
Like we said before, your palate is the decider if you want honey for the love of it.
One thing's for sure, Whatever type of honey you choose, there's no way to lose!
But if it's for better health that you want, then unifloral is a better choice, higher price notwithstanding!
We have the best of both at Zizira, pure and natural. Do check us out!