Food Fondles

Honey and Gluten-Free Living: Is Honey Gluten-Free? Get The Facts

is honey gluten-free?

Honey used to have a bad rep in the past but has gained an immense following in recent times, so we need to know the answer to this popular question – Is honey gluten-free? One cannot deny that honey is sweet. That’s why there’s a popular simile – as sweet as honey – which we have known since our days in elementary school. But it is unfair to correlate the level of sweetness to how healthy something is.

Long ago, honey was seen as something that is diabetes-inducing, alongside sugar. However, with better educational levels and effective marketing, we now know that honey can be a great alternative to sugar. Honey is widely used due to its amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Honey is an effective antioxidant to boost overall health. 

See Also: Is Dextrose Gluten Free?

What is Honey and Is Honey gluten free?

Honey and bees go hand-in-hand. Honey first starts as nectar in flowers and is then collected by bees, most commonly honey bees. This then gets broken down and converted into the honeycomb, eventually becoming the honey that we know. 

So in theory, yes, honey is gluten-free. On its own, honey does not contain any gluten and is safe for those following a gluten-free diet. However, this is only in theory. Often, in reality, honey can be combined with other gluten-containing ingredients before it makes its way to supermarket shelves. This is to cater to consumers’ ever-changing preferences, or it could simply be contaminated with gluten in the processing facilities. 

The Different Types of Honey

The market is flooded with different variations of honey. There are more than 300 types of honey. The more commonly known ones are manuka honeywildflower honeyacacia honey and clover honey. 

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is popular for its antibacterial properties. It has a bitter flavour and a strong smell, differing from the regular honey which is sweet. Some eat two teaspoons of manuka honey daily, alone or mixed with water, to reap the maximum benefits. It is said to heal wounds, ease a sore throat, and help with overall digestion. My favourite is mixing a teaspoon of Manuka honey with my daily cup of Earl Grey tea. The honey provides a subtle sweet undertone to the drink. 

Wildflower Honey

As the name suggests, wildflower honey is made from the pollen and nectar of a variety of blossoms from more than one wildflower. As such, the flavour, aroma and taste profile of wildflowers can vary from region to region, and even season to season. This lack of a distinct taste is the distinct characteristic of wildflower honey. Hence, to ensure that wildflower honey is safe for individuals suffering from celiac and for those who are gluten intolerant, it is essential to know the origin and ingredients in that bottle of wildflower honey. If it is organic and raw, it means that it has not been heat-treated or strained and unprocessed. Hence, most likely, gluten-free as well. 

Acacia Honey

This is a monofloral honey variety produced by bees pollinating one type of flower which is, of course, the acacia flower. Acacia honey is regarded as one of the world’s best honey and is highly sought-after for its antibacterial properties which supposedly work wonders for the skin. Furthermore, the trees on which the acacia honey blooms do not always produce honey. Hence, the rarity of it makes acacia honey even more pricey. 

Clover Honey

Clover honey is milder in taste, and is made by nectar from the clover plants. With a slightly floral taste, it tastes great in tea as it adds a little complexity to the drink. Also, because it is lighter in flavour profile, clover honey is a great sweetener alternative to add to cooking as it does not overpower the original taste of the food item. 

Flavoured Honey

The market also sees a wide range of flavoured honey, which just means honey infused with different types of flavours. You could add rosemary, ginger, thyme, lavender, and berries. And the list goes on. Of course, most of these additions are gluten-free. However, those following a gluten-free diet still need to pay attention to the ingredients in such flavoured honey.

One such product is the popular honey malt barley. This is a type of barley that has been malted and then sweetened with honey. This is a natural alternative to natural sugar, especially popular for baked goods, but unfortunately, contains gluten and hence should be avoided. 

The Importance of Choosing a Gluten-Free Honey

As we can see, honey is naturally gluten-free. However, there is always a risk of chance of honey being cross-contaminated with gluten-containing products such as wheat, barley and rye. This is even more likely if it is processed in a facility which does not have a dedicated gluten-free production line. 

Honey is also something that can be processed right at home – this means that local beekeepers can sell raw honey at a local flea market which may contain gluten. Their kitchen and shed may not be free of gluten-containing products, or they could also be using the same equipment that has been used to prepare their family meals. And unfortunately, even a small tiny amount of gluten could be pretty unsettling for individuals battling celiac, or those who are extremely sensitive to even minute amounts of gluten. 

Thankfully, there is a wide range of gluten-free honey out there in the market, ensuring that you can safely use it in your everyday recipes and drinks. 

●     Comvita UMF 5+ Manuka Honey: Sustainably sourced from wild Manuka flowers in New Zealand, this honey is certified gluten-free.

●     Desert Creek Raw HoneyRaw and unfiltered, this honey is unprocessed to retain as many amino acids, vitamins and enzymes as possible for maximum benefits.

●     Nature Nate’s 100% Pure, Raw & Unfiltered Honey: With a white range of honey products, Nature Nate’s original honey is known to be of superior and award-winning quality. 

See Also: Is Brown Sugar Gluten Free?

Honey in the Kitchen

The use of honey extends far beyond a sweetener for tea and beverages. Honey has played a vital role in the culinary world, being a key ingredient in many delectable recipes from cakes to grilled pork chop and, even for some Friday night cocktails! Here are some gluten-free recipes that feature honey as the star.

●     Gluten-Free Honey Almond CakeThis elegant honey cake recipe is simple yet vibrant. With its red and green contrast, it could easily take centre stage in any family dinner. This almond cake is also moist and not too sweet, making it perfect for the young and old. 

●     Gluten-Free Honey and Soy ChickenThis delicious chicken goes well with a simple serving of rice. One of my favourite Asian recipes, this meal makes a comforting meal for lazy days. Oh, and it tastes even better if accompanied with a serving of miso soup. 

●     Gluten-Free Salted Peanut Butter CookiesThe flavours in this cookie are a beautiful blend of sweet and salty. And yes, it is difficult to stop at one, so make sure that no one is around when you are baking this, or you’ll unfortunately have to share! 

Conclusion: Is Honey Gluten-Free?

The benefits of honey are indeed remarkable. From helping to soothe a nagging sore throat to boosting one’s overall immunity, honey is not just a sweetener; it serves as an important component in many dishes. Thank goodness, honey is gluten-free which means that you can continue to enjoy honey in various forms. For those who are looking to follow a stricter gluten-free diet, and are sensitive to even the slightest trace of gluten, it is still important to ensure the origin of the honey. For an extra peace of mind, opt for honey which has been certified gluten-free. 

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top