Cherry blossom honey is a monofloral variety of honey made from the nectar and pollen of cherry flowers belonging to the sweet cherry species (Prunus avium), also known as wild cherry. The raw, unfiltered, unprocessed honey is a source of essential nutrients, antioxidants and other elements with beneficial effects on human health. Unless you are allergic to the honey, cherry pollen or cherry fruit, this particular variety is great for treating symptoms of respiratory infections such as a sore throat or relieving cough, exerts a strong antimicrobial action, favors wound healing and skin health and boasts energizing properties.
Cherry blossom honey is not so common compared to other varieties. This is because cherry trees blossom early in spring, in March-April. At this time of the year, honey bees are in search of nectar to raise new offspring and may thus use cherry blossom nectar primarily as sustenance, rather than make honey out of it. If cherry nectar sources are not plentiful, by the time honey bees get to making honey, they may be out of cherry nectar and thus go for other flowers that are in bloom at the time. However, where there are vast cherry tree plantations, honey bees usually have plenty of nectar both for them and their offspring and for starting the production of honey.
What does cherry blossom honey look like?
Generally, this variety may range from a light amber color to rich golden hues and dark amber with reddish reflexes. However, most commercialized varieties are a light golden color. The honey is known to crystallize somewhat slowly (but faster than acacia, eucalyptus, chestnut and pine nut honey) and become paler as a result.
What does cherry blossom honey taste and smell like?
Cherry blossom honey doesn’t have an intense aroma. Its mild fragrance is reminiscent of cherry flowers and bears a floral, cherry smell. The variety has a distinctive fruity, but sweet-tangy, warm taste with cherry notes. Some people find it also has an earthy-woody or almondy aftertaste. As for its consistency, it is not usually very dense, but rather slightly flowing (but not liquid).
Cherry blossom honey: uses
Like all other honey varieties, cherry blossom too enjoys a wide range of culinary and non-culinary uses. The raw honey is commonly used as a natural sweetener and healthier alternative to regular table sugar and added to tea, coffee and coffee substitutes. Because it’s a natural sweetener, it’s also preferred for use in desserts and baked sweets in general, although cooking with honey is not healthy.
As for its non-culinary uses, raw cherry blossom honey can be used topically, primarily on the skin, for skin care purposes or for therapeutic purposes. For skin care, it helps clear excess sebum and dirt, unclogs pores and exerts an illuminating and tightening effect on the skin. Regular use contributes to a clearer complexion and even helps improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne, red spots and mild hyperpigmentation, helping achieve a more even skin tone.
Raw cherry blossom honey can also be used therapeutically, externally and internally. The raw honey can be applied on clean wounds, scratches, insect biters, scratches and minor burns (e.g. burns from cooking accidents) to promote faster healing and reduce risks of infection. Raw honey has scientifically proven wound healing properties, with some honeys being investigated in clinical settings as natural alternatives for wound dressing, primarily burns.
Raw cherry blossom honey can also be used on the hair and scalp to calm itching and reduce irritation, working great for both oily and dry scalp types. It can be applied on skin affected by eczema as well, and can improve the condition to various extents.
Internally, raw cherry blossom honey is great taken on an empty stomach for gastritis and stomach ulcers. It is recommended to take on tablespoon of raw honey on an empty stomach when you wake up in the morning, and avoid eating and drinking for 30 minutes to one hour. But its reparative action must be backed up by appropriate dietary changes. Consumed regularly, in small amounts, it stimulates the immune system and provides prebiotic benefits, helping maintain gut flora balance.
Can you cook with cherry blossom honey?
While you can cook with honey, cherry blossom or another variety, it’s not healthy to do so. Honey in general is no longer as healthy when heated. Honey is meant to be consumed as a raw food product. Its benefits for health rest in their entirety in its unaltered, raw form. Cooking heat destroys beneficial enzymes, vitamins and counteracts most of the beneficial activities of honey. Not just this, but honey can yield toxic byproducts following exposure to cooking heat.
Because it consists of mostly sugars, albeit natural ones (honey is, on average, 80% to 84% sugar), heating it can lead to the formation of toxic byproducts, including cancer-causing byproducts that could prove hazardous for health in the long run. Just as important, heating honey causes it to lose most, if not all of its beneficial properties. This is why it is recommended to postpone adding honey to your tea, coffee or herbal coffee until they’re at least lukewarm or, better yet, room temperature.
Processing cherry blossom honey in any way can lead to it losing most, if not all of its beneficial effects. Diluting it makes it less biologically active. Filtering it can remove elements with a beneficial action such as propolis and some natural resins. Heating it causes it to form dangerous metabolites.
Similarly, using certain pesticides (e.g. systemic) on the flowers bees feed on can cause said pesticides to leak into the flower nectar and pollen the bees collect, and get processed into the resulting honey as well, not to mention negatively impact honeybees health.
If you want to enjoy the wonderful health benefits of cherry blossom or any other varieties of honey, make sure you buy certified honey from reputable brands or beekeepers that can also provide some proof of clean agricultural practices. Just as important, always go for raw honey, wholly unprocessed or only minimally processed (e.g. filtered to remove big particles such as wax pieces). Raw, unprocessed honey is the only honey that preserves its natural beneficial properties.
What is cherry blossom honey good for?
What are the properties and benefits of cherry blossom honey? The variety of honey is a source of special natural constituents, essential nutrients, enzymes and antioxidants with surprising antimicrobial, antiseptic, regenerative, energizing, immune-boosting and detoxifying effects. Their action is what makes cherry blossom honey good for use.
1) Antibacterial properties
The strong natural antibacterial properties of the honey are a result of its hydrogen peroxide content, acidic pH and low moisture content. When glucose from cherry blossom nectar interacts with a special enzyme from honey bees called glucose oxidase, hydrogen peroxide forms. Hydrogen peroxide is a potent antimicrobial agent responsible for the antibacterial effect of all honey varieties except for manuka honey. It is known to both inhibit and destroy bacteria.
The acidic pH of the honey also plays an important role in this respect because bacteria do not generally thrive in an acidic environment, hence the reason why honey yields great results when used to combat acne, relieve sore throat and other respiratory tract infections or help wounds heal faster. The low moisture content contributes to inhibiting growth of pathogenic bacteria, further enhancing the properties of the honey.
2) Tonic, energizing effect
Cherry blossom honey is made of natural sugars mostly (about 36.5% fructose and 33.5% glucose). And, of course, sugar gives you instant energy. But it’s actually a far better choice than refined sugar or artificial sweeteners because of its natural composition. Moreover, the variety contains essential nutrients (particularly dietary minerals) and enzymes (as well as pollen and propolis in the raw, unfiltered types), all of which contribute more or less directly to a revitalizing, energizing effect.
3) Good for use in respiratory infections
Raw, unprocessed, unfiltered cherry blossom honey contains pollen and propolis, two natural compounds with immune-boosting effects, as well as a significant hydrogen peroxide content, a compound known to exert a potent antibacterial effect. These elements are what make the honey good for improving the evolution of respiratory tract infections because they both suppress bacterial growth and destroy certain pathogenic bacteria.
When eaten or taken in tea, the honey comes into direct contact with the throat lining where pathogens may reside and helps prevent a bacterial infection from advancing. This is why taking honey when you have a cold helps reduce throat soreness, relieves cough (at least to a certain extent), stimulates appetite and so on. Moreover, because of its energizing action and content of propolis and pollen, it encourages recovery following a period of poor immunity, contributing to strengthening the immune system function.
4) Gentle on the stomach with a reparative action
The raw, unprocessed, unheated and undiluted honey is gentle on the stomach, provided it is consumed in small amounts. Its moderately viscous consistency helps it form a sort of protective layer over damaged mucous membranes, allowing them to heal.
In cases of gastritis, it is recommended to take one tablespoon of a honey of your choice on an empty stomach in the morning and avoid eating or drinking anything for up to an hour. The honey has to be high-quality and raw, unprocessed and unheated to produce any beneficial effect.
Nevertheless, eating honey alone will not treat your gastritis. All sufferers need to commit to making serious and more ample dietary changes to heal their gastritis completely and improve their stomach health in the long run. See what foods to eat and to avoid for gastritis.
5) Encourages faster wound healing
Since the beginning of time honey has been used as a natural dressing for wounds and even today it proves effective in cases when even antibiotics fail. Research confirms the wound healing effects of raw honey and reveals its success is a result of a strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action (Honey: A Biologic Wound Dressing).
Currently, different varieties of honey are used to make sterile wound dressings that can promote faster healing of open wounds, with the added benefit of also providing mildly analgesic properties that help with pain management.
However, it is important to first address a doctor if you have an open wound or wound that does not seem to heal at all. Just because raw honey can help with wound healing, that doesn’t mean you can just slather it on your wound without seeing a doctor at all. You have to consider the possibility you might need antibiotics to prevent an infection from spreading to your blood or that the wound is not just a wound but a more complex medical condition that requires appropriate medical care.
6) Rich source of antioxidants
Research shows cherry blossom honey contains potent antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol, luteolin, galangin, naringenin etc. (Analysis of flavonoids in honey by HPLC coupled with coulometric electrode array detection and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry). Overall, flavonoids are the most prominent antioxidant compounds in the variety
Antioxidants protect against cell damage caused by harmful reactive oxygen molecules called free radicals. They actually prevent excessive damage to cells and related inflammation, discouraging the development of chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, heart disease and so on) and premature aging.
7) Detoxifying and diuretic action
Cherries are known for their purifying effect and it has been suggested that the honey made from cherry blossom nectar may share the same properties as the fruit. However, it is important to understand that just eating the fruit or the honey will not turn around years of poor dietary and lifestyle habits, nor will it magically rejuvenate the liver and kidneys which are the main detoxifying organs.
Detoxification means eating and living clean so that we do not put strain on our health in any way and thus allow our body to work as it’s supposed to. It doesn’t mean that a certain food will purge us of toxins, but rather help our liver and kidneys do their job optimally.
8) Benefits for the skin
Honey in general is used extensively for skin care. The light-colored cherry blossom honey can be used as a face mask for dull skin because of its illuminating effect, making skin look radiant and fresh. Cherry blossom is also a good natural remedy for uneven skin tone and regular use can help with spots caused by acne and hyperpigmentation.
In my experience, cherry blossom honey is also a great natural remedy for oily skin – it helps clear excess sebum, but at the same time exerts a gentle action that does not put the sebaceous glands in overdrive, resulting in overproduction of oils.
Because of its gentle tightening effect, it makes skin look younger, improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and even saggy skin. Cherry blossom honey also makes an effective natural pore cleansing mask, helping unclog pores and clear dirt which helps prevent acne breakouts. Its antibacterial action further contributes to acne management, but not cystic or other forms of hormonal acne.