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Friday, July 1, 2016


Miel de tomilo y brezo para este invierno
Photo from: comprebien.net
honey. It was a very important food item in the Castillan diet of the Middle Ages. Although Hispano-Muslims had sugarcane, like the Romans, their favorite desserts were with walnuts or pistachios with honey. Then it was eaten with fruits or sour substances. Peasants drank hydromel.

Although valued by the ancients, it is a misconception to think that it was used lavishly in European medieval cookery. It could not compete with sugar, which was more exotic. Further, in some recipes honey cannot serve as a substitute. In cheesecake, for example, using honey instead of sugar produces something like a cheese-molasses, not cheesecake. Honey, however, did serve as a sugar substitute in other recipes especially in northern countries and northern Spain where sugar cane did not grow and sugar from the sugar beet was an impossibility as the method for extracting it is was not discovered until the 19th C.
Bee and Lavender (Lavendula) = Honey
Photo from: Egon Philipp

The poor used honey in cooked food as they could not afford sugar. It was the most reliable stable to have in the pantry. Guadalajara, La Mancha and Jaen, as per Idrisí, were noted for the quality of their honey. Contrary to the fact that manufacturers today put expiration dates on jars, honey does not spoil. Archeologists have tried honey removed for the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs and found it edible.

[Apicius/Flower 1958:20; Ares. “Comidas.” 1994:126-127; ES: Delgado. Apr 26, 05; and Martínez Llopis. Historia. 1981:110]

miel de Brezo, honey from Brezo (an area in León). Bees that collect nectar from ericaceous flowers produce this type of honey. This has is dark red with a viscose consistency and is rich in mineral salts. It is an energetic element and efficacious diuretic. It is recommended in cases of over exertion, anemia, neurasthenia and in appetence. It constitutes an excellent auxiliary to combat heart disease, the respiratory, urinary and liver problems, rheumatism, gout and lack of minerals of any type. [Silva. 1994:176]

Photo from: Zoltan Boda
miel de cantueso, Eng. French lavender honey. Bees gathering nectar from this flower produce it. The honey has a mild flavor. It is amber-clear. It has been consumed traditionally for its analgesic properties, as a sedative for cerebral agitation, an antiseptic, lung disease, digestive problems, and a stimulant and anti-spasmodic to combat colic and indigestion. Externally it is applied too clean wounds due to its antiseptic properties. It was this type of honey that was found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. See cantueso. [Silva. 1994:175]

miel de mielada, Leon. mielada, Cespin Sap honey. This is produced by bees that collect cesin sap or nectarean, a substance in tree sap, principally from cork, holm and Pyrenees oaks. This is different from other honeys as it originates from cesin sap produced by oak trees in the autumn. It is a sticky sugar liquid containing manita glucose, dextrin and sucrose which blocks the pores of the leaves, thus preventing growth and making them fall off because of the abscission layer created at the base of the petiole. Bees collect this sap and with it produce a dark honey that smells and tastes like malt. It is not as sweet as other honeys but has a high content of iron, mineral salts and enzymes. Medicinally it is used against dysentery, anemia and chronic diarrhea. Further it is taken to relieve lung infections and bronchitis. Externally, it is applied to anal fissures and hemorrhoids. See alcornoque and encina. [Silva. 1994:175-176]

Photo from: John Mortimer
miel de milflores, nectar flower honey. This type of honey produced in areas where bees collect nectar from various flowers. The color is almost red, depending of the blossoms visited by the bees. In general the digestive functions are accentuated. It increases energy and physical strength. [Silva. 1994:175]

miel de urz, heather honey. It is produced by bees using the nectar of these flowers. It has a dark red, a thick consistency and a penetrating aroma. It is rich in minerals and is good tasting. It is served daily with meals in the Maragato Region of León. During the winter it is served with wine to fight the cold. During the slaughter, it is boiled in wine to keep the workers toasty. Year round, it is ingredient for desserts such as: toast, chestnuts and walnuts, round cake and cream. Heather honey is an excellent aid for kidneys and heart illnesses, rheumatism and gout. [Ares. Gastronomía. 2000:122-124]

Heating the Mixture with Egg Whites
Photo by: Lord-Williams

1 lb white honey[1]
1 c water
3 oz starch[2]
2 egg whites
2 tbsp canola oil or butter
1 c  almonds


Much Richer than Peanut Brittle!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Take 1 lb of clean, white honey and water. Bring to a gentle boil. When honey or sugar is dissolved simmer for 10 -20 minutes until color changes into light amber (300ºF on a candy thermometer).

Then stir continuously, add egg whites, oil or butter and baking soda. The mixture will foam. Continue stirring until the foam subsides and mixture becomes glossy.

Stir in nuts and quickly pour out over baking paper or well greased cookie sheet.

Flatten the mixture and let cool for 20 minutes or until brittle. 
[1] today, granulated sugar must be used if honey is processed, which unfortunately is the case for honeys sold in supermarkets.
[2] omitted.
[3] edible camphor was not available when preparing this recipe.


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