Date: 20th March 2020
There are many varieties of honey, some of which are specific to certain regions because of the unique flora of the area upon which honey bees forage. The differences in the nectar collected by bees affects the overall flavor and sweetness of honey. However if you have a particularly sweet tooth, you may be wondering which honey tastes the sweetest.
The short answer is:
Most honeys are about the same level of sweetness, but it is known that Locust honey is particularly sweet. This is based on a comparison of 30 honey varieties in America.
There is a study which compares a number of different honey varieties, and ranks them in sweetness. The study was carried out by a Dr Johnathan White for the USDA in 1962. Dr White acquired samples of honey from beekeepers all over the USA in order to complete his work. Then in 2017, American Bee Journal featured an article on the matter written by Ron Miksha. Miksha analyzed a number of other honeys, and added his data to that compiled by Dr White. The article in the American Bee Journal presents 30 different honeys, all ranked for their sweetness.
Floral nectar is composed of varying types and levels of individual sugars, and depending on the mix and dominance of blossoms foraged on by the bees, the composition of honey (in terms of the relative balance of those sugars) will be unique to each honey type.
So, given that some types of sugars are sweeter than others, it's not a surprise that the sweetness of any jar of honey will be linked to the type of sugars it contains, and the proportions of those sugars. Fructose has a high level of sweetness, so honey that is mostly fructose has a good chance of being sweeter than honey with lower levels. Maltose, on the other hand, is comparatively bland, and a higher than average contribution of maltose can reduce the overall sweetness score.
Below is a table comparing the sweetness of different sugars found in honey.
|Sweetness Values For Sugars|
The following table ranks 30 different honeys from sweetest to least sweet. You can see that Locust honey was found to be the sweetest, and honeydew honey the least sweet.
|Sweetness Of Honey Varieties|
|Rank||Honey Type||Sweetness Score|
|11||Alfalfa & Sweet Clover||115.69|
|14||Clover & Blends||115.38|
|30||Honeydew Metcalfa (Europe)||107.81|
If we look at the average make up of honey in terms of sugar types, we find that fructose is typically 38% of the sugar content of honey.
|Average Amount Of Main Sugars In Floral Honey|
You can see from the table assigning sweetness scores to honey that most varieties fall within a sweetness range of 114 to 115. This correlated with the average fructose percentage in those honeys, which ranged from 37.73% for a sweetness score of 114.16 (Aster) and 39.10 for a sweetness score of 115.90 (Eucalyptus - European).
For me, I'm not sure the sweetness is the most important part. The unique aromatic qualities in each honey provides a very important contribution to the experience of eating it.
Miksha, Ron. (2017). America's sweetest honey. American Bee Journal. 157. 393-397.
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