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Honey in Beverages

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					National Honey Board Food Technology/ Product Research Program

Honey in Beverages
What type of honey works best in beverages? Honey, with its myriad of colors and flavors, is probably the most interesting ingredient and sweetener that can be found for use in beverages. The United States produces over 300 types of honey, with the colors ranging from water white to dark amber and the tastes from delectably mild to distinctively bold. Each floral source of honey contributes something different in terms of color, aroma, rounding effect and flavor. Typically, color and flavor are the two major criteria manufacturers will consider. A favorite honey type is Clover honey, which represents 45% of the honey produced in the United States. In some beers (porter, stout, herb and spiced), other floral sources are preferred: Alfalfa, Wildflower, Buckwheat, Sage or Citrus. Honeys with a pronounced taste and amber color work well in root beer. For fruit drinks, manufacturers sometimes select Orange Blossom, Blackberry and other specialty honeys. The addition of specialty honey to beverages adds value and consumer appeal. Is honey easy to use in beverages? With its low pH (3.9), honey is chemically compatible with many beverages and can be incorporated directly in most formulas. Filtered, pasteurized honey yields the best results. In most products, honey can be used just like other sweeteners. In some applications, it may be necessary to heat the honey (to destroy osmophilic yeasts). However, to retain honey’s flavor components and its aroma, honey should not be exposed to high temperatures for too long and it is best not to boil it or sterilize it. Ultrafiltered honey is being used or developed for use in a wide variety of beverages. The technology of ultrafiltration can be designed to remove selected components of honey while leaving other components behind. Proteins, for example, which might otherwise interfere with the stability or functionality of the final product, can be removed by ultrafiltration. The process can be designed to retain the sweetening components and distinctive flavors of honey. If a heat treatment is required, which method is recommended? In some beverages (especially fermented ones), it is important to control the microbiological flora of all the ingredients. Most honeys contain detectable levels of yeast1 which may be controlled by heat or other means. Some researchers and manufacturers recommend flash heating (215°F for 30 seconds) followed by immediate cooling to 45°F, or an ultra-filtration step.2,3 A process developed by brewers involves heating honey at 176°F for 2.5 hours prior to addition to the wort, followed by prompt cooling of the honey wort. Can honey be used in sport beverages? Yes. There are a number of sport drinks on the market that contain honey and fruit juices. Some are lightly carbonated, others are flavored with citrus extracts to create refreshing drinks. In addition to a distinctive flavor, honey provides fructose and glucose, which are important nutrients in these beverages. What about iced tea?

Honey Hotline Fact Sheet

Honey in Beverages

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National Honey Board Food Technology/ Product Research Program

Iced teas can be sweetened exclusively with honey. Iced teas are perceived as a healthy alternative to soft drinks and the addition of honey is “a natural” in these types of beverages. Can honey be used in vegetable juices? Yes. There are successful commercial products on the market which combine honey, various vegetable juices and spices or other flavors. Honey has the ability to decrease the perception of bitterness, which is a useful function in many vegetable-based beverages.4 Are there fermented beverages which contain honey? Worldwide, there are many types of fermented beverages manufactured with honey. In the United States the popularity of honey beers has risen dramatically in recent years. Honey contributes fermentable sugars and its addition to the wort creates a dry and smooth beer. Other benefits include crisp taste, color and consumer appeal.5 Technical information and honey beer formulas are available from the Honey Hotline. Work is also under way to use honey in hard cider. How much honey can be used in beer?

Yes.

This will depend upon the
type of beer manufactured. The following concentrations are typical of commercial products: • 3-10% (as percentage in weight of total grain bill). Honey contributes a subtle flavor to ales and lagers. Honeys which are mild to medium in aromatic flavor intensity are recommended: Clover, Alfalfa, Orange Blossom, Sage and Wildflower. • 11-30%. A distinct and noticeable honey flavor develops at these concentrations. This range is also recommended when caramelized and roasted malts, spices and other flavoring adjuncts are used. Some of the most “robust” beers support the use of strongflavored honeys at these concentrations. • >30%. The flavor of the honey will likely dominate the other flavors in the beer. At these concentrations, a very dry beer can be obtained. When honey is used at very high concentrations, the beverage obtained should probably be considered in a category of its own. The National Honey Board has conducted extensive research on and development of beer prototypes. To receive

honey beer formulas and processing information, please contact the Honey Hotline. What is mead? Mead is a type of honey wine. It dates back to at least 500 AD and was common in ancient times and in the Middle Ages. Today, new techniques have been developed to produce high quality, clear colored meads and mead is making a comeback. There are more than 14 meaderies in the United States. Please contact the Honey Hotline or the American Mead Association6 for more information. Is honey a suitable ingredient in root beer? Yes. In fact, some root beer recipes that date from the American colonial era use honey, as do modern commercial manufacturers. The addition of honey improves the body and contributes to the creaminess of the beer. Manufacturers also find that honey enhances the taste of the sassafras and wintergreen, and seems to yield a more “adult” taste. Can other forms of honey be used in beverages? Yes. For example, natural honey extracts could be added to black tea, herbal teas and instant flavored coffees. Researchers have also studied the feasibility of co-drying milk and honey to obtain a

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National Honey Board Food Technology/ Product Research Program

creamer/sweetener.7 Pure dried honey formed into lozenges can be dissolved in hot beverages. Some forms of dried honey products can be added to beverage mixes. Please contact dried honey suppliers for additional information.

References and Sources
1

Visit us on the World Wide Web at http://www.honey.com

NHB. 1995. Microorganisms in Honey. Monograph. National Honey Board, Longmont, Colorado. 2 Kime, R.W. et al. 1991. An Improved Method of Mead Production. American Bee Journal 6:394. 3 Kime, R.W. et al. 1991. Ultrafiltration of Honey for Mead Production. American Bee Journal 8:517. 4 Resurreccion, A. 1995. Effect of Enhancement of the Basic Tastes and Desirable Flavors by Honey. Unpublished manuscript. Dept. of Food Science, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. 5 Lagrange, V. 1994. A Honey of a Beer. Brewers Digest 12:13. 6 American Mead Association. PO Box 4666. Grand Junction, CO 81502. Tel: 800-693-MEAD. 7 NHB. 1994. Honey and Dried Milk. National Honey Board, Longmont, Colorado.
April 2006

Honey Hotline Fact Sheet

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