What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is a New Zealand bee honey, which has long been used in traditional medicine in New Zealand and in recent years is increasingly finding its way into traditional medicine. Especially the special antibacterial effect makes Manuka honey so unique and sets it apart from other honeys.
What is so special about Manuka honey?
Manuka honey combines the special features of the Manuka tree and the good properties of honey. In general, honey is said to have a health-promoting and partially germicidal effect. In this regard, the high sugar concentration of honey is said to extract water from germs, causing them to die. Likewise the low pH value of honey represents an acid environment unsuitable for bacteria. In addition, honey contains the enzyme glucose oxidase, which forms hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has a disinfecting effect. However, it is disputed whether honey in this way is actually sufficiently germicidal for medical use.
Antibacterial effect of Manuka honey
The antibacterial effect of Manuka honey, on the other hand, is well recognized. Researchers discovered that a particular substance, methylglyoxal (MGO), is responsible for the antibacterial effect.5, 6 Manuka honey, unlike other honey, contains considerable amounts of methylglyoxal, making manuka honey a highly medicinal agent.
The antibacterial action of methylglyoxal is referred to as non-peroxidic activity (NPA) to distinguish it from the modes of action of conventional honey. But methylglyoxal is not the only antibacterial agent in Manuka honey. Flavonoids and phenolic acids are also considered antibacterial substances. Thus, Manuka honey offers several approaches to successfully fight bacteria. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to adapt to Manuka honey and form resistances. This could be a key advantage of Manuka honey over synthetic antibiotics.
The production of Manuka honey
Honey bees of the species Apis mellifera produce manuka honey by collecting the nectar of the South Sea myrtle and processing it into honey. The scientific name of the South Sea Myrtle is Leptospermum scoparium. However, it is also called the Manuka tree, the word “Manuka” being derived from the Maori language. Kahikatoa is another Maori name for the South Sea Myrtle. South Sea Myrtle can grow as a tree or shrub and blooms from December to February with white or pink flowers.
Busy bees do most of the work
Bees achieve the processing of nectar into honey essentially by breaking down starch into glucose (grape sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar) and by extracting water. The bees themselves manage the thickening process to such an extent that the immature honey only has a water content of about 40 percent. The bees then transfer the immature honey to the honeycombs of the beehive, where it loses further water through evaporation. The bees actively support evaporation through wing beating, ventilation and temperature regulation. Ripe honey should have a water content of less than 20 percent to protect it from fermentation processes. Ideally, the water content of Manuka honey is between 16 and 18 percent.
Bacteria are important for the MGO content
In addition, bacteria that live in the bees serve a special purpose in the ripening of the honey. On the one hand, they are responsible for the pH of the honey, and on the other hand, they produce a metabolic breakdown product that becomes methylglyoxal through subsequent dehydration. Together with the immature honey, the bacteria are transported by the bees into the honeycombs, where they complete their work.
As the honey matures, more and more bacteria die as the decreasing water content and increasing MGO content make it difficult for them to survive. The nectar of Manuka flowers contains particularly high levels of the starting material, which is converted to methylglyoxal with the help of the bacteria and subsequent dehydration. Only Manuka honey is therefore rich in methylglyoxal.
When the honey is ripe, the bees close the combs with a wax lid. Then it is time for beekeepers to harvest the honey. The beekeepers remove the wax lids and use a special centrifuge to spin the honey out of the combs. They then filter the honey before it is bottled and ready for sale.
What does UMF and MGO mean?
To better classify the antibacterial effect of Manuka honey, the “unique manuka factor” (UMF) was created. The UMF is directly related to the MGO content. Finally, methylglyoxal is considered to be the antibacterial active ingredient of manuka honey.
However, the UMF value is older than the knowledge of methylglyoxal. Therefore, according to the original method, the UMF value can be determined independently of the MGO content. For this purpose, bacterial cultures are used to test how anti-bacterial the honey samples actually are. The effect obtained is then compared with the effect of a so-called phenol solution.
Phenol solutions were previously used as disinfectants and it is known how strong an anti-bacterial effect a phenol solution has at a certain concentration. The number given after the UMF value therefore corresponds to the concentration of a phenolic solution with a correspondingly strong anti-bacterial effect. For example, a Manuka honey with a UMF value of 10 has a comparably strong anti-bacterial effect as a 10 percent phenol solution.
However, UMF also serves as a registered seal of quality. It is controlled by the independent New Zealand UMF Honey Association and guarantees the authenticity of the New Zealand Manuka Honey and the stated UMF value. A + after the UMF value means that the MGO content is higher than the stated UMF value, but lower than the MGO content of the next UMF level. In addition, the UMF value is also directly related to the antioxidant effect of manuka honey and the content of phenolic compounds, as scientists from Northern Ireland found out in 2015.
How to brew beer at home
When the stores and restaurants are closed and leisure options are limited, DIY is in vogue – especially when the result is through the stomach. But it doesn’t always have to be a cake or a delicious dish to please your loved ones. How about a home-brewed beer? In keeping with the approaching barbecue season, we tell you how this can also be done at home. Cheers!
Beer – especially Pilsner – is our favorite alcoholic beverage. In 2020, around 95 liters of hop and barley juice will have been consumed per capita. This puts consumers in third place behind the Czech Republic and Austria in a European comparison.
It’s no wonder that it’s trendy to make the “liquid gold” at home. If you want to make it easy, you can use a ready-made beer brewing kit, but the individual ingredients are also readily available in (online) stores.
Recipe: Brew 20 liters of Pils beer yourself
Clearly, what the brewer can do, only the brewer can do. But you can also try your hand at brewing beer at home, although you should allow a few hours for it. And: You can’t drink your own creation right away. Once the freshly brewed beer is bottled, it must ferment there for about three weeks. We do recommend you get a home beer brewing kit.
- 4 kg malt (crushed)
- 30 g of hops
- a beer spindle to measure the original wort of the beer (available in stores for about 15 euros)
- 40 g brewer’s yeast
- two large, clean buckets
- a boiling thermometer
- a cotton sheet (as a filter)
- a 20-liter boiling pot (mulled wine pot, boiling kettle)
- 40 beer bottles with swing tops
IMPORTANT: The pots, buckets, bottles and utensils used must be sterile!
Grist (coarsely crushed) is not ground! Brewing malt is a malt specially designed to meet the requirements of beer production. You can buy it ready-made – and that’s exactly what you should do as a beginner.
Tip: If you like your home-brewed beer a little stronger, you can use a little more malt. Then you get more alcohol or quantity.
2 Mashing and saccharification
During mashing, malt and water are mixed together and brought to temperature. Mashing converts the starch contained in the malt into sugar, and the contained protein flocculates and forms longer protein chains. Mashing takes place in three steps:
Mashing in: The water is heated to 65° Celsius, then the malt is added with constant stirring. After that it’s a matter of: Keep stirring!
Protein rest: Keep the temperature constant at 63° Celsius for about 15 minutes. This causes protein chains to form from the protein molecules. They later provide a stable foam crown, the carbonic acid and clarify the mixture.
Maltoseast: Now heat the mixture to 71° Celsius and continue stirring for another 15 minutes. The lighter the malt and the longer the maltose rest, the more tart and stronger the beer will taste later. If you prefer a sweeter and more full-bodied beer, you can shorten the time. Background: During the maltose rest, the long-chain sugar is converted into short-chain sugar. This is necessary for the yeast to convert the sugar into alcohol.
3. iodine sample
The iodine sample is used to test whether starch is still present. To do this, place a few drops of the water and malt mixture on a saucer and add a few drops of iodine.
If the sample turns blue/red, the maltose rest must be extended a little. If the sample remains brown/yellow, the process can continue.
Finally, heat the mixture once again to a maximum of 77° Celsius while stirring, this ensures the final saccharification. The temperature should not exceed 78° Celsius!
During lautering, the boiled malt is separated from the mash (= the liquid). The easiest way to do this is to pour the cooked mixture over a cloth or sieve into a bucket to separate the solids from the liquids. The liquid is called “wort” and the solids are called “spent grains”.
This process is repeated until the wort running from the spent grains is no longer cloudy. After lautering, return the wort to the boiling pot and refill it with boiled water to the original level.
Measuring the original wort
Measure the original gravity with the beer spindle. The value indicates how many grams of sugar and other components are dissolved in one kilogram of liquid. The original wort therefore does not indicate the alcohol content, but describes the proportion of dissolved unfermented wort.
For a Pilsner, this should be about 11%. If the value is too high, the remaining extractives must be washed out again with hot water (not above 77° Celsius!). If the original wort is too low, more water should be evaporated in the next step. 6.
6. wort boiling and hopping
Then boil the wort at 100° Celsius for a total of about 60 minutes. After about 30 minutes, add the hops (the “yellow”).
The hops give the beer its flavor and make it durable through their tannins and bitterness. The longer you boil the hops, the more tannins and bitterness they give off.
Remove a small amount of the brew and let it cool to about 20° Celsius. Use the beer spindle to determine the original wort content again. If the original wort is too high, add a few ice cubes later (before yeast).
8. hot trub removal
The hops and fine suspended solids must then be removed from the wort. To do this, the brew is again poured over a cloth into a bucket. And keep doing this until all the “green stuff” has been filtered out. The brew should look dark and clear.
9. cooling, yeast and fermentation
The best way to cool the brew is to put it in the bathtub and pour cold water all around. Cool the brew in a cold water bath, so to speak. If the temperature of the brew corresponds to the temperature of the yeast, the yeast can be added. For a Pilsner, it is between 9 and 15° Celsius.
If the original gravity was previously too high, the ice cubes can be added before the yeast.
During the first 60 minutes, the brew should be stirred regularly to aerate the yeast. After that, let it rest, covered, to allow the yeast to work – until the beer spindle reads four percent wort.
Father’s Day is written on the snap cap of an empty beer bottle lying in a meadow.
10 Bottling and waiting
The beer can then be bottled. Do not fill them to the brim! The secondary fermentation takes place in the bottles and lasts about three weeks.
For two weeks, the bottles should be stored at room temperature. Some brewers recommend opening the bottles from time to time during this period so that carbon dioxide produced during fermentation can escape. However, this is not absolutely necessary.
After the bottles have been stored in the refrigerator for another week, the home-brewed beer can be enjoyed.
Shrimp Kokosöl Stir Fry and Vegetables
How about a recipe I learned in Austria this summer? I love sea food, a variety of summer vegetables and Kokosöl (coconut oil), so why not combine these wonderful ingredients to make something special? Absolutely! 🙂
This dish is super tasty and healthy. If you leave out the shrimp, you can even turn this into a vegan dish.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
- 1/4 cup Liquid Aminos
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbs raw honey
- 2 tbs Shelled Hemp Seed
- 2 tbs Coconut Oil (Kokosöl) divided
- 1 lb peeled shrimp
- 1 small onion (halved & sliced)
- 1 bell pepper (seeded & sliced)
- 1 small yellow squash (cut)
- 3 oz. shitake (stems removed, sliced)
- 2 garlic (minced)
- Get a small bowl, add the liquid aminos, honey, hemp seeds and honey. Whisk them together.
- Place 1 tbs coconut oil in a nonstick frying pan or wok, heat it up and add shrimps. Stir fry until pink for 2 minutes over high heat, then place the content into a bowl and let it sit while you continue.
- Using the rest of the oil, stir fry the squash, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Add and simmer the sauce for about 2 minutes, or until it thickens a bit. Add the shrink and cook for another minute.
Serve with brown rice!
Flaxseed – My Favorite Oil for a Reason
Flax oil, or flaxseed oil, is a special ingredient for salads and other cold dishes. It has a very interesting taste and color, but mostly, it is an oil that nutritionists and food scientists alike practically worship. At this point, it is widely known that flaxseed is healthy and people have really caught on about that, so it has become popular and is sought after. However, why is it so good?
The wonderful thing about flax oil is the high content of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which makes it a fantastic and unique source of these acids for vegetarians and vegans. Also, this type of oil cannot be heated, so you can’t use it to fry, and it also means that it needs to be manufactured at low temperatures. One thing you need to know is that industrial production is fast and at high temperatures and often they use chemicals, which get filtered later – this also filters a lot of the taste and color (often all of it, which is why many oils are colorless). However, at low temperatures and low speeds, the oil retains all of its qualities, color and taste.
Did you know that even the ancient Greeks have used flax oil to treat hoarseness? It has been known for a long time that flax is healthy and has a lot of benefits that we should not miss out on. It has many benefits for your heart and cardiovascular system. Personally, I love flax seed oil in fruit salads of all kinds.
The one problem is the low shelf live of only about 2 months. You should buy Flaxseed oil only in dark bottles to protect it from sunlight, because light in general helps the oil to oxidize, making it go bad more quickly. Make sure you store it in the fridge, unlike (I think) any other oil – this is mandatory to keep it around for as long as possible. You should also not buy huge bottles and figure out how much oil you use so you don’t have to throw away the rest once the shelf live is over.
Here is a video about flaxseed oil from German television (I speak the language, but you can use the Youtube video translation feature if needed).
One thing I really want to talk about as well is the importance of secondary ingredients like these oils. See, when Martina and I talk to people about our various cooking endeavors, we often mention oils and get strange looks 😀 People ask us why we talk about that instead of the “main” ingredients, like tomatoes, rice, salads etc. It seems that oils, salts, and other side ingredients are almost invisible to people: they focus on the bigger things, you know?
The cool thin is, however, that oils are very important for your health and can make or break, say, a salad – not only in terms of taste but also in terms of its benefits. My friend Maria sends me Oils from Austria and Switzerland on a regular basis. I think she recently sent me this flaxseed oil to try. If you eat a hot manufactured cheap olive oil from your local supermarket, you may end up with something that was treated with chemicals, was filtered, has lost a lot of its beneficial contents, its color and taste. A lot of supermarkets don’t even have flax oil!
So don’t underestimate the importance of each and every ingredient you use. After all, it goes into your body and does its thing 🙂