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Strawberry tree honey
Honey is, in the collective imagination, considered an example of sweetness par excellence. Yet nature offers us some examples that subvert this rule, reversing it in its exact opposite. A proof of what we say is the strawberry-tree honey, with a bitter taste, probably the strongest of all foods of this kind, so much so that it is unpleasant to palates not accustomed to particular tastes. And yet this precious gift of bees, besides being a pleasant discovery for those who know how to appreciate it, has beneficial features among which we will later look around.
Where do you get it from?
This peculiar honey is derived precisely from the strawberry tree, an evergreen shrub that belongs to the family of heather. The strawberry tree grows spontaneously and is robust to the point of being able to survive even five hundred years of bad weather, transforming itself into a tree with thick foliage that can measure over ten meters in height. It has excellent resistance both to the torrid and to the harsh climate, and is readily available throughout the Mediterranean basin, in Western Europe and in Ireland. In Italy, the region that holds the record for the production of this very special honey is without a doubt Sardinia, followed even if with a clear break from the Maremma area near Grosseto. The slowness of its fruit ripening is the most curious aspect of this plant: a year of patience is necessary to see them, ready to be picked from the branch. During this long and imperious process, the fruits change their color several times, preserving bright tones that dye the eyes of those who go through the crops: fiery red, ocher yellow, intense orange.
From its leaves and its roots we get the tannin, used in the dye industry. Fermented fruits offer us an excellent wine with digestive properties. But it is obviously the flowers that give us the strawberry tree honey with extraordinary features.
Features and properties
Wrapped in a legendary halo, the strawberry tree honey It is among the most difficult to find on the market. The cause of this lack in the shelves of our supermarkets but also sometimes in specialized shops is in the difficult climatic conditions in which the flowering of the strawberry tree takes place, between October, November and mid-December, a period in which it easily happens that a downpour thwarts the slow work done by nature that leads the petals to open up. The same bees, during those cold months, struggle to get out of the hive just because of the bad weather they run into while autumn is coming to an end, giving way to winter.
Arbutus honey is dark in color, tending to dark tones of amber in the liquid phase and to the more delicate nuances of hazelnut color after crystallization, which generally occurs quite quickly. The smell, on the other hand, brings to mind the ground coffee grounds.
The main healing properties of arbutus honey are purifying, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, antiseptic for the urinary tract and anti-inflammatory. It can be considered a real panacea for those suffering from bronchial asthma, sore throat and frequent intestinal inflammation.
The fortuitous combination of a high rate of glucose together with an acid pH ensures an antibacterial action, also thanks to the enzyme glucose-oxidase which produces gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide to aid digestion.
Thanks to its anti-stress action, it can be used as a sleep inducer when given at the end of the day.
Excessive use of arbutus honey can generate some unpleasant and unpleasant surprises, causing constipation and nausea. The Latin name of the plant, "arbutus unedo", serves as a warning. The wording derives from the Celtic. In this ancient language, in fact, "ar" means "astringent, harsh", while "unedo" is the abbreviated version of three Latin terms, "unu tantum edo", meaning "I only eat one". A clear reference to the fact that with this delicacy it is recommended not to overdo it!
Hints and historical curiosities
Cicero, always a fierce enemy of the Sardinians, during a prayer in the Forum in defense of a magistrate who had thrown himself against this people during his pro-consulate, declared that "all that the Sardinians produce is bad, even their honey is bitter ", obviously referring to strawberry tree honey, the main product on the island. Probably the great speaker ignored the incredible and infinite beneficial properties of this product of nature which, despite its sharp and strong taste, releases a sensation of very sweet well-being in our body. This remedy offered to us by the flowers of the strawberry tree has been handed down from a secular tradition that raises it to the rank of a true natural antibiotic. Try it during the long cold winters, during which the ailments and inflammations of the urinary and respiratory tracts are pressed.