Honey 1980). Freshly extracted honey is a viscous

Honey
is a natural sweet substance produced by honeybees from the nectar of blossoms
or from secretions of living parts of plants. Honeybees collect this material,
transform and combine it with specific substances of their own, store and leave
in the honey comb to ripen and mature (White & Landis, 1980). Freshly extracted
honey is a viscous liquid with strong hygroscopic character, relatively low
heat conductivity, low surface tension and various colours that are basically
all nuances of yellow amber (Jusbin, 1996). Their shades range from nearly
colorless to dark brown, while flavors go from subtle to bold; even the aroma
of honey may be reminiscent of the flower.

India
produces a total of 95,000 tonnes of honey every year (National Horticulture
Board, 2017). Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal are the
major honey producing states. Punjab’s contribution to honey production is
10,000 tonnes, a major chunk of which is exported to other countries including
USA, UK, Europe and West Asia. The composition of honey produced in the world
is variable. Although the major constituents of honey are nearly the same in
all honey samples, the precise chemical composition and physical properties of
natural honeys differ accoring to various factors like the plant species on
which the bees forage, geographical, seasonal, floral source, plant origin,
harvest prior to complete maturation and storage conditions (Serrano et al 2004, Nanda et al 2003, James et al
2009, Cantarelli et al 2008, Ciappini
et al 2008, Omafuvbe et al 2009, Ebenezer et al 2010).

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The
various chemical components of honey include: carbohydrates that comprise the
major portion of honey-about 82% (Hak-Gil et al., 1988), and proteins
that include a number of enzymes, and eighteen free amino acids, principally
proline (White et al., 1962). In addition, honey contains a wide array
of vitamins, such as vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic
acid, essential minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese,
phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc as well as several different amino acid.
Honey also contains several compounds which function as antioxidants —
compounds that may help delay the oxidative damage to cells or tissues in our
bodies. Known antioxidant compounds in honey are chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin
C, catalase and pinocembrin. Flavonoids and phenolic acids, which act as
antioxidants, are found in honey. Honey also contains volatile
substances which are responsible for the characteristic flavour. The high
content of sugars, small amounts of amino acids, lipids, along with some
vitamins and minerals impart it high nutritional value.

Honey has
been claimed (Abdulla & Abdulaziz, 1998) to have therapeutic properties in
the treatment of digestive, respiratory, cardiac and rheumatic disorders.
Several studies have reported honey’s immunological, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory,
antipyretic properties besides its importance in terms of energy intake.
Furthermore, honey has been proved to possess wound healing and analgesic
actions (Jusbin, 1996; Abdulla & Abdulaziz, 1998; Pereira et al.,
1998).  Its use as a sweetener is well
known in different parts of the world. The application potential in bakery,
confectionery, snack foods, fruit and vegetable products and beverages is ever
increasing. In addition to being an amazing
natural sweetener, honey has benefits that have gone largely unknown. It’s a
wholesome sore-throat soother, a natural energy booster and more.

 

Raw
honey collected from combs is not suitable for large scale marketing without
further treatment. So the honey is processed mainly to destroy yeast cells,
reduce the moisture content, delay granulation and remove extraneous matter
like pollen, beeswax, dirt, air bubbles and other solid particles. ISI/ Agmark
specifications are followed and proper processing is done to obtain better
product quality and shelf life. In the state of Punjab, a number of private
beekeeepers, various federations, societies are engaged in procuring,
processing and marketing of honey. A major problem faced by the beekeepers is
the wastage of honey during processing. Two important stages of processing are
filtration and heating. Honey extracted from combs at apiaries contains
extraneous matter such as pollen, bits of wax, variable amount of sugar
tolerant yeasts and other undesirable material that is removed through
straining or pressure filtration. Around 0.5- 1 % of honey is extracted along
with the impurities and gets  wasted. The
quality of stored honey is also influenced by temperature and moisture
conditions. Honey has hygroscopic nature, it naturally absorbs moisture from
air during rainy season and gets diluted to a point where it is prone to
fermentation, leading to change in the flavour and colour of honey.  Also , exposure to high storage temperature
results in the inactivation of enzymes, caramelisation, degradation of diastase
enzyme and formation of toxic compounds such as Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). This gives the honey a
dark colour, an unpleasant flavor and aroma. About 1.5% of honey is spoiled
during storage due to exposure to high temperature and moisture.  This small fraction accounts for a large
quantity of honey wasted on large scale (around 150 tonnes), which needs to be
utilized to increase the profit of the honey producers. R

 

From the fermentation of honey, alcoholic
beverages can be obtained. Honey can be fermented to produce different types of
mead (honey wine), sherry type wine, sparkling wine and fruit-honey wine, which
may have different flavours depending the floral source of the honey and the
additives and yeast used in fermentation. 
R On an
average mead is an alcoholic beverage containing 8–18% (v/v) ethanol to which fruits,
juices and spices may also be added (Gupta and Sharma, 2009). The most common are
metheglin (mead containing spices or herbs), melomel (mead with fruit juices),
hippocras (pyment with herbs and spices) and sack mead (produced with superior
concentration of honey)

The
time needed for fermentation and maturation ranges from several months to
several years.  Its modern
production, in general terms, involves the addition of nutrients to initial
diluted honey, pasteurization, yeast inoculation, fermentation and removal of
impurities. It is the oldest fermented drink in the world.  It is nutritious, containing many elements
required by an organism and has excellent effect on digestion and metabolism.
It also contains minor constituents responsible for antioxidant activity of
mead. R

Hence,
the utilisation of honey processing waste to produce mead offers honey
producers another alternative to diversify their production and supply the
market with new products. This is also in line with the present situation of
consumers demanding more options and a willingness to try new products. It  provides an innovative alcoholic drinks to
the consumers and increases the profit of the honey producing industry.

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