What is the difference between Regular Honey, Raw Honey and Manuka Honey?

Regular Honey

As you stroll down the supermarket aisle, you’ll certainly come across that delicious, runny, sticky liquid often referred to as “regular honey” – right next to those fruity preserved jams and beefy vegemite jars. Regular honey is made from raw honey that is heated to at least 70 degrees celsius, or more, following a rapid cooling period. This particular pasteurisation process will extend its shelf life, and is ideal for filtering and removing impurities and bubbles to make the honey clear, smooth and oozing with perfection. Although commercially regular honey is much more appealing to the eye, the heating process will reduce the overall beneficial properties.

Raw Honey

Raw Honey is basically all kinds of natural honeys in their purest form and extracted without a refining process. It is by far the most original, sweet liquid that the humble honeybee will produce from the concentrated nectar of a flower. Once collected, the raw honey is stained prior to bottling and extracted, without producing heat. For this reason, it can sustain most of its antioxidants and minerals. Raw honey contains 31 different minerals with plenty of other vitamins and enzymes, and with higher antioxidants than regular processed honey.

Manuka Honey

Having said that, Manuka Honey is unique and can only be found in remote regions, such as New Zealand and Australia. The bees pollinate the flowers from the manuka bush to produce manuka honey. Scientifically, the manuka bush is known as Leptospermum Scoparium. The manuka plant is quite rare and contains an exceptionally high amount of natural sugar containing antibiotic compounds of methylglyoxal and hydrogen peroxide. The components are acidic and have strong antibacterial properties. Due to manuka honey’s popularity, there is a grading system to check its uniqueness. However, while all honey does contain anti bacterial properties, the heating process used to treat “regular honey” will interfere and reduce the overall nutritional value.

Unlike regular honey, Manuka Honey has very little processing from the hive to the cupboard. It’s handled very carefully, tested and monitored to ensure it maintains its purity. Native to the North Island in New Zealand and in Australia, the manuka flower naturally contains three chemical markers, namely: MGO, DHA and Leptosperin.

Three Chemical Markers

Methylglyoxal “MGO” – MGO is the natural substance that comes from the manuka honey bush flower and contains antiviral and antibacterial activity.

Dihydroxyacetone “DHA” – DHA is a precursor chemical of MGO that is found in the nectar of the Leptospermum Scoparium, commonly called Manuka.

Leptosperin is a chemical that naturally occurs in the nectar of Manuka plants.  Leptosperin is perfect for testing the honey to identify whether it’s concentrated enough to be labelled Manuka Honey. This chemical compound comes from Leptospermum Scoparium, a flowering plant in the myrtle family “Myrtaceae”, native to Australia and New Zealand.

MGO is often added to manuka honey after it has been harvested. To ensure the genuine production and sale of manuka honey, the rating systems are in place for “UMF” (Unique Manuka Factor) in New Zealand and “ULF” (Unique Leptospermum Factor) in Australia. Not all harvested honey will be at the same level of potency – this is why UMF/ULF testing is accompanied by a number that grades its qualities; the higher the UMF/ULF number, the more potent the honey.

What level of Manuka Honey is best?

UMF/ULF: 15-20+ /  MGO: 400-550+

Very high antibacterial activity. Superior healing properties.

UMF/ULF: 10-15+ / MGO: 100-400+

High antibacterial activity. Good healing properties.

UMF/ULF: 5-10+ / MGO: 30-100+

Medium level activity. Suitable for maintaining good health.

UMF/ULF: 0-5+ / MGO: 0-30+

Low level activity. Comparable to regular honey.

How to cook with Manuka Honey

This luscious concoction does contain a very different chemical makeup, so it is wise to remember the “three golden rules” prior to cooking to ensure your recipe is a success.

Because this superior honey is a natural sweetener, it is much sweeter than sugar, so you will need less for your recipe – approximately 1/2 cup of honey per 1 cup of sugar.

The “three golden rules”

  1. Turn the temperature on your oven DOWN – Honey is a wonderful product for caramelising but, manuka honey does burn much faster than sugar. It is important to reduce the temperature by at least 10 degrees when using honey.
  2. Reduce the Liquids in your RECIPE – Unlike sugar, manuka honey will increase the overall liquid content, so you will need to use less liquid for your recipe. For every one cup of honey, reduce the overall liquid by 1/4 cup (water, milk etc).
  3.  Make sure your recipe will RISE – Sometimes the acidity in the honey may cause your recipe to go flat. To rectify this, just add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey.

Enjoy some natural sweetness in your life with Manuka Honey!