Why can’t you give honey to under one year olds?

Everyone knows that children under one year of age should not be given honey, but not many people know why.

Although a delicious natural sweetner, honey carries a risk of botulism which can cause food poisoning which if not treated can result in death.  Botulinum spores are actually widely found throughout nature.  In fact, botulinum spores can appear in other sweeteners, such as maple syrup or corn syrup and can even be found in dust, indicating that it is an extremely widespread toxin.

As a result, most humans adapt to it and develop immunity.  Infants, however, do not have a completely matured digestive system and are susceptible to botulism food poisoning.  While honey does not always contain the spores, it is more likely to contain botulinum as it is a natural product and untreated.

You could give honey to an infant if it was pasteurised and there are one or two honey based cough remedies on the market that include pasteurised honey, but pasteurised honey is also crystallised as a result of the heat process making it unattractive to eat and as a result, it is hard to find.

Winter Warming Breakfast

Breakfast is always a rush in my house and with the cold weather descending, the cereal with cold milk combo seems, well, a bit chilly.  While porridge is good for half the week, with Zambezi Plains stirred through for a real zing, sometimes only toast will hit the spot and here’s a child friendly recipe I came across for a honey nut spread which has gone down a storm at my breakfast table – basically roast off ½ cup of pecans in a hot oven until just turning brown to get skins off (a bit of a fiddle but worth doing for the divine roasted nut flavour you get).  Then whizz in food processor with ½ cup butter and ½ cup honey (Ogilvy’s Organic Himalayan Highland Plains honey will give it extra umpf) and store in fridge for 1½  cups of nutritious deliciousness to spread on your breakfast toast that beats Nutella hands down in every way.

Sweet dreams for Coughing

It’s that time of year again and with more cold weather fronts coming here’s a sweet tasting recipe to soothe those night time sore throats and coughs.  Take a cup of Balkan linden honey, 3 tbsp of lemon juice and a quarter cup of warm water.  Mix all together in a sterile jar and take up to 2 teaspoons full prior to sleeping.

For those of you who like to feel it’s got to taste like it will do you good , many swear by an onion, garlic, oregano and honey mix – although anyone sitting next to you may not agree!   Equally, I give my children up to 2 teaspoons of honey (they like Balkan Linden) just before they go to sleep (and before they brush their teeth obviously!)

Spoonful of honey can keep coughs at bay

In 2007 an American hospital caused a sensation when it published a study that proved honey was more effective at relieving children’s night time cough symptoms than over the counter medicines.

It pitted honey against two of the most common ingredients in cold medicines Destromethorphan and Diphenlydramine – two common ingredients in UK cough remedies.  The  study coincided with the withdrawal of 6 cough syrups from the market together with the re-branding of a further NINETY over the counter cough remedies for children aged 6 and over after the discovery that these ingredients where a factor in five infant deaths since 1981.  In fact every year 1,500 children are admitted to hospital suffering adverse reactions to cough remedies.

The controlled study in America was based on 130 children aged between 2 and 18 years old who had been coughing for 7 days and had a running nose.  They were given either spoonful of honey, a placebo or the traditional cough syrup.  The children who were given honey coughed less and slept better and as an added bonus the parents enjoyed better sleep, knowing they had done something to help.

Since 2001 the World Health Organisation has recommended honey as a cheap, safe way to reduce cough and dry throat symptoms.  A safe demulcent, honey coats the throat and soothes irritated mucus membranes, stimulating saliva production and reducing coughing fits.  It seems granny really did know best when she reached for the honey jar!

Lost Hives

Really depressing news from Wiltshire. We’ve lost half of our hives. Sadly, it’s the same everywhere. There’s a beekeeper with 1,000 hives nearby, who put in 300 new nucleus hives (normally a queen and about 200 bees) and he has lost the lot. We all know it rained this summer but probably don’t realise that it was so heavy that it washed out the nectar from the trees and it takes 2-3 days for them to re-fill, by which time it was raining again. Granted we weren’t expecting much. But it’s heart wrenching when you come up to the hive and just see hundreds of wasps sailing in and out of silent hives. Your heart just sinks when you lift up the lid and see the empty frames, the tell-tale sign of wax moth, the rogue queen cells the workers desperately built to try and get a new queen to save the colony. I will admit I spent about 30 minutes squashing wasps that thought to try in on with the surviving hives – apologies to any wasp lovers out there. It goes without saying we won’t be harvesting any honey this year. We are very lucky not to be dependent on our harvest. So out of thirteen hives we lost six. Luckily we had two swarms at the beginning of the summer and we will be introducing them into their new homes over the next couple of weeks.

As the nights get chillier…

As the nights get chillier, it’s time to reach for honey to help keep the sniffles at bay. Lots of people are talking about pine tree honey for the immune system, and we in fact we are looking at one from Greece – but the taste can be a little acerbic. We recommend our Balkan Linden, glorious flavour and with antiseptic, sedative qualities – Europeans have used the Linden tree for centuries for colds and bronchitis’s – it doesn’t hurt ours got 3 stars Great Taste awards 2012! As a general immune aid, would also recommend Zambezi Plains – also 3 star 2011 – A rich spicy organic honey that is chock full of helpful enzymes, bioflavonoids etc and really packs a punch in the flavour department. For more delicate palates, Himalayan Highlands is one to consider – 2 star Great Taste award 2011 and organic. Otherwise there are some interesting immune system homeopathic sprays out there – I am trying the kids on one from Boots, the idea is it traps viruses before they multiply. Off to rustle up some soups, which I will post later.

Competition Update

This morning’s dull, blustery weather brightened up no end by the sunny honey musings on ilovemygrub in response to our competition – including a glowing bit of poetry - check it out on Facebook!

posted: 19 Jan

Win Ogilvys Honey

Check out this great competition at ilovemygrub.com, an excellent foodie newsletter that’s worth signing up to, for a chance to win a full set of our honeys on http://www.ilovemygrub.com/competition/ogilvys

Planet Organic

Over the moon to be in Planet Organic and hope you can come and visit me on my whistle stop tasting sessions at all five branches between today and December 11.

Check out the dates on the newsfeed.  Self professed honey haters especially welcome as I never tire of hearing the line, ‘I never thought honey could taste like that!’

Bees Need Water Too!

In a little aside about beekeeping, now is the time to make sure your bees have easy access to water so they can rehydrate their honey in the cold winter months.  I’ve just made a little luxe pool for mine using an old sink I found in the garage – obviously you shouldn’t use anything with concrete so nothing unpleasant leaches into the water – fill it up with stones (so they don’t drown), cram it up with moss and fill to underside of the moss.   [Read more...]