Like olive oil and grapes, thyme honey is at the base of Greek gastronomy. With a unique flora and fauna in Crete the high quality of cretan's honey takes an important place in cretan diet culture.
BEFORE TO START ...
The history of beekeeping in Greece dates back thousands of years. Honey was valued long before olive oil or wine were. The Greeks have known about its high nutritional value and connected it with divine characteristics since antiquity, as proven by numerous archaeological artifacts and mythology.
Before aiming at mortals and gods, Eros, the god of love, dipped his arrows in honey.
Circe tempted Odysseus’ soldiers with cheese,wine, and honey in the Odyssey.
Hippocrates prescribed honey to the sick, and Aristotle was the first to examine the bee scientifically.
Honey is high in carbs, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants, has a lower calorie count than sugar , and has antibacterial and therapeutic effects. Honey is made up of 180 distinct compounds (sugar,minerals,proteins,vitamins A,B,C,E,K and water,etc.) Honey that is pure and unadulterated never expires.
HONEY IN CRETE
Honey is the basis of all traditional pastries in Crete,it takes a very important place in the diet of the inhabitants here. In fact, Cretan honey is of high quality thanks to the flora of the island and the exceptional sunshine which provides an abundance of aromatic herbs and essential oils.
Indeed, Crete is a beekeeper’s and honey-lovers’ heaven.
Greece, behind Spain and France, is the EU's third largest honey producer, with 1,300,000 swarms and yearly production of 12,000 tonnes.
Greece's signature honey is made from pine (55-60 percent), fir (5-10 percent), and thyme (15 percent).
Beekeepers nowadays shift their hives according to the flowering season, to various locations each time. As a result, they are carried to orange trees and, in general, low altitudes in the early spring for bees to collect juices from flowering plants. Then they’re transported to higher elevations, where aromatic plants and herbs grow, including thyme, which gives Cretan honey its distinct flavor. In July, August, and September, the “harvest” takes place.
The art of beekeeping in traditional villages are such a must see in Crete if you want to see something traditional concerning the cretan way of life in the mountains.
If it would please you to meet a local explaining to you everything about how artisanal honey is made, we advise you to experience this through our excursion “The Cretan Way of Life at the mountains of Rethymno” by which you have the opportunity to visit a Cretan shepherd refuge (Mr Andreas) and watch over 100 goats run free towards the tall mountains, to learn about bee-keeping with his wife Mrs Eleni,and have a traditional lunch with them.
If you are interested to know about the traditionals meals you could taste here, we invite you to read 10 Cretan foods you NEED to try!
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