Production, distinctive elements and typologies of Italian honey from Tuscany
|Production and distinctive elements of Italian honey from Tuscany|
The element that most conditions the production of honey is the climate (temperature, humidity, precipitation). In Tuscany, the mild temperatures that characterize the Tyrrhenian coast allow the production of honey even when inland temperatures are cold.
The thermoregulatory function of the sea allows the growth and maintenance of a specific and varied vegetation that extends between the coastal area and the first hinterland: the Mediterranean scrub.
In the proper sense, the Mediterranean scrub also extends to some areas of peninsular Italy; It is therefore useful to distinguish the vegetation of the coastal bush from that of the continental forest.
The spontaneous plant varieties of greatest interest for the beekeeping of the bush for the production of honey are shrubs such as heather and rosemary or tree species such as acacia, chestnut, strawberry tree, eucalyptus, fir and oak. On the other hand, the main melliferous species of cultivation are the fodder (on the clover and alfalfa, etc.) and the a steraceae (sunflower, dandelion, etc.) .
Thanks to the extraordinary microclimate and the soil composition, the honey produced in Tuscany is one of the best in the world for taste, flavor, organoleptic qualities and nutritional values.
The most popular types of honey in the Tuscany region are acacia honey (very delicate and vanilla), wildflower honey (very aromatic), heather honey (with a fruity flavor) and chestnut honey (bitter but not too much).
Thanks to the analysis of pollen (melissopalinologica) contained in honey, it is possible to accurately determine the Italian origin and even Tuscany (central Italy) of honey.
|Classification of Italian honey from Tuscany|
The main types of honey of Italian origin from Tuscany collected between the provinces of Florence and Arezzo are listed below.
- Italian Acacia Honey from Tuscany: (Robinia pseudoacacia): Italian Tuscan acacia honey changes in flavor and color according to the production micro-zone (it is often frequent the difference, even substantial, of honey produced in apiaries a few hundred meters away from each other). The most suitable territories for the production of Tuscan acacia honey are the Valdarno (Aretine and Florentine) and the areas of Altopascio, Pistoia and Lucca. The color of the acacia honey collected in the aforementioned areas is very clear / yellow white and has a very delicate sweet taste with a vanilla aftertaste. The honey produced in the foothills or mountain areas (above 1000 m above sea level) tends to become more yellow and has a slightly more marked taste due to the lower purity of the acacia monoflora crop. The organic certification of acacia honey obliges the producer to place the beehives away from highways and high traffic roads where acacias are usually present as plants that have become pests today. CAUTION: Acacia honey produced along highways or heavily trafficked roads may contain heavy metal residues from automobile exhaust.
- Italian Wildflower Honey from Tuscany: The wildflower honey is the typical Tuscan; the taste and the characteristics are very much affected by the production area and the selection of the flowers by the producer: the beekeeper can produce various types of wildflower honey choosing which flowers to have bees bottled and in which epochs extract the honey from the combs in the hives. The color of Tuscan wildflower honey varies from white to yellow, from amber to light brown to dark brown. The honey that is extracted only once a year after all the blooms is a very fine wildflower. In addition, wildflower honey is the most complete honey type from a nutritional point of view. In the Tuscan foothills or mountain areas where chestnut trees are present, the wildflower brings with it the slight bitter taste characteristic and the scent that the chestnut nectar gives to honey. The production of certified organic wildflower honey takes place away from sources of pollution and usually in wooded areas.
- Italian Chestnut Honey from Tuscany: Chestnut honey in Tuscany is generally produced from 5-600 meters above sea level. It is the classic mountain honey and, due to its bitter taste given by tannic substances, it is not easy to compare the variation of taste from area to area. The production extends from the Tuscan Apennines to the Antiappennino. The color of chestnut honey varies depending on the presence of honeydew. Generally the color is on the shades of red.
- Italian Sunflower Honey from Tuscany: The sunflower is a plant widely cultivated in Tuscany. In recent decades, production has increased. Sunflower honey is very popular in the north and abroad and little considered in the center-south. Despite the extensive sunflower plantations in Tuscany, not every year it is possible to produce sunflower honey. This is due to the climate too dry or due to the presence of honeydew that "pollutes" this type of honey. Producing organic sunflower honey in Italy is very rare due to the lack of certified organic sunflower crops.
- Italian Honeydew Honey from Tuscany: Honeydew honey comes mainly from the sugar emissions of aphids or from the natural oozing of some resinous plants (mainly firs). Honeydew production is not possible every year and varies depending on the climate and the presence of aphids or not. The flavor is intense and reminds one of jam and berries.
- Italian Ivy Honey from Tuscany: Ivy honey is produced in autumn in Tuscany. The flowering of ivy for bees is the last significant source of pollen and nectar before winter. Ivy honey is a supply for bees that are difficult to use due to their high glucose content. This type of honey crystallizes finely in a few days or a few hours depending on the ambient temperatures.
- Italian Arbutus Honey (Straberry Tree honey): Arbutus honey (Strawberry tree honey) is very rare and difficult to produce in Tuscany. The Arbutus (Strawberry tree) blossoms in late autumn / early winter. Its sour and pungent taste is not easily forgotten. Arbutus honey (Strawberry tree honey) is one of the finest and most expensive honeys in Italy