Purple Honey Guide (Benefits + Images + Research)

Written On: by Theo The Beekeeper

Honey comes in subtle shades of yellow, liquid gold, and deep orange-amber hues depending on the colors, flavors, and terroirs of the many flowers that honey bees visit when foraging. However, there are tell-tales of rare purple honey from the south-eastern states. According to the lucky few that were able to lay their hands on purple honey claim its tastes out of this world!

Purple honey is scarce honey primarily found in the coastal parts of South and North Carolina. It offers a grape soda aroma and tastes like grape jam with slightly sour, berry notes. In addition, purple honey is full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and antibacterial properties.

If you’re anything as curious as I was, continue reading for more juicy information on the iridescent purple honey.

Does Purple Honey Exist?

Believe it or not, purple honey does exist. While the taste can be pretty subjective, the color isn’t subjective at all; it really is purple.

Curiously, there is a mystery that lies behind purple honey. Some people question its authenticity due to its unique, vibrant color. However, the primary reason behind the question is that it’s challenging to come by.

You’ll also find it fascinating that beekeepers cannot cause bees to produce purple honey in a deterministic way. This scare, royal liquid syrup surprises even the most experienced beekeepers!

The characteristics of all honey varieties depend on the terroirs, weather, flowers, and types of bees. In addition, even when beekeepers position hives right next to each other, offering the exact location, weather conditions, and flower varieties – purple honey can appear in one hive but not the other. In fact, the amount of purple honey is often limited to a partial box or several frames.

Purple honey is also considered unique to specific states in the United States, including South and North Carolina, and it mostly appears in dry years.

How Is Purple Honey Made?

honeybee on purple flowers
Close up from a bumblebee (Bombus) on buddleia blossoms in the sunshine.

Nobody actually knows how purple honey is produced; not even scientists can agree on how it originates. So this random occurrence always comes as an exciting surprise, even to the most experienced beekeepers.

Adding to the mystery, two hives placed right next to one another can produce totally different colored honey; one will be gold while the next is a deep purple.

Various theories frame how purple honey is made and why it appears; however, none are proven. So, here are the handful of unproven theories we found in our deep dive for more information on this scarce honey.

Flower Types Might Cause Purple Honey

honeybees on purple flower
bee air trip, three shots combined

First, one of the suggestions states that it derives from the flower type the honeybees find to forage. Common theories include elderberries, huckleberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Due to bees favoring blue and purple flowers, it isn’t unreasonable to think that honeybees will gorge themselves on dark purple fruits in the summer of North Carolina, where purple honey magically appears.

However, this theory becomes somewhat vague given that two hives placed next to each other with access to the same flower varieties do not all produce purple honey.

The Way Bees Produce The Honey Can Cause Purple Honey

Then another suggestion is that purple honey has something to do with how honeybees make their honey. While this theory may technically be true, as the bees in neighboring hives can produce their honey in slightly varying ways, the notion still seems strange, given that purple honey can appear from a hive that usually produces standard gold-toned honey.

The Soil’s Mineral Content Might Cause Purple Honey

Another theory is that purple honey is related to the soil’s mineral composition in which flowers in a particular area grow.

According to tests performed by Ambrose, the answer behind purple or blue honey may be from the excess aluminum that reacts with the acids in the honeybee’s belly, causing a blue tinge. The flowers near the coastal plain of North Carolina have more aluminum in their nectar, possibly accounting for the purple honey production in that region.

Another culprit might be the sourwood plant which produced a purple hue after soaking overnight in the bees’ digestive liquids.

However, this theory weakens when beekeepers observe that a single hive may produce purple honey amongst multiple hives in the same terroir.

The Kudzu Plant May Cause Purple Honey

The most popular theory that seems to be most legit is that purple honey results from honeybees foraging from the kudzu plant. While kudzu is seemingly not the favorite food for bees, they will forage on it during dry, dearth summer -this comports why purple honey is primarily collected in drought and minimum quantities.

Read more...  Is Fermented Honey Safe To Eat?

The kudzu plant and purple honey share a geographical distribution, whereas elderberries, huckleberries, blueberries, and blackberries are found everywhere. In addition, those fortunate enough to have tasted this scarce delight claim that purple honey tastes like grape jam with a grape soda aroma -these descriptions are often applied to kudzu flowers.

However, yet again, we find several apparent flaws with this argument.

The kudzu is an invasive and rampant species in some areas. If purple honey resulted from bees foraging from the kudzu plant, then we’d expect higher predictability and larger quantities of purple honey.

The jury remains split, and the cause of this purple, iridescent confection remains a mystery.

Is Purple Honey Really Purple?

honey by purple flower
Jar with honey and fresh lavender flowers on a white wooden table

Purple honey is a shimmering and unmistakably purple liquid rarely found in hives near the North Carolina coastal plain.

Purple honey looks like an eerily purple brew from a science fiction flick instead of the familiar golden condiment in your pantry.

The purple honey can appear deep wine red when you hold the jar up towards the sun. However, it’s undeniably purple when you place it under high-intensity LED lights.

Does Purple Honey Come From M&Ms?

Purple honey does not come from M&Ms. However, a strange occurrence occurred in France, where the summer bees created blue and green honey.

In 2012, beekeepers in northeastern France experienced a sticky situation after finding their hives produce blue and green shades of honey. After proper investigation, the beekeepers uncovered that the bees were feeding on the technicolor remnants of M&M candy shells from a biogas plant around 2.5 miles away instead of collecting flower nectar.

The likely cause for this behavior deems to be a lack of natural flowers, forcing the natural opportunistic French bees to snack on the sugar source.

However, none of us will be drizzling blue or emerald-green honey over our Greek yogurt or croissants anytime soon. Unfortunately, the honey is considered unfit and “unsellable” as it does not meet the standards of honey production (being obtained from plant nectar).

What Does Purple Honey Taste Like?

Purple honey offers an aroma of grape soda and tastes “purple” like grape jam or blackberry syrup with slightly sour berry notes.

Purple honey is generally considered sweeter than its buttery yellow or amber cousin; sometimes, it offers an additional fruit quality. In addition, it is a delightful and carefree flavor!

Health Benefits Of Purple Honey

Raw honey is one of the greatest all-natural healers in nature. People have used honey as a home remedy for thousands of years; the same applies to purple honey.

Thanks to years of research, we have copious reasons to take advantage of honey’s superpowers, be it to soothe a cough and sore throat or to embrace the fantastic antioxidant properties in this natural sweetener.

To put a stop to the buzzing questions on the full health benefits of raw, purple honey, read on.

Purple Honey Is Filled With Nutrients

Raw purple honey contains various amino acids, enzymes, beneficial compounds, and the following micronutrients:

  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • niacin
  • pantothenic acid
  • phosphorous
  • potassium
  • riboflavin
  • zinc

Purple Honey Can Fight Damage From Free Radicals

Raw honey is jam-packed with an array of plant chemicals acting as powerful antioxidants that help to fight against cell damage.

Harmful agents (free radicals) attack your healthy cells through oxidative stress, associated with inflammatory disorders, aging, and chronic diseases, including cardiovascular problems and cancer.

Fortunately, purple honey will help combat these consequences. It contains polyphenols and antioxidant compounds with anti-inflammatory effects that protect against conditions associated with oxidative stress.

Purple Honey Combats Harmful Bacteria

Raw, purple honey has remarkable antibacterial properties. During pollen synthesis, the honeybees deposit a natural antiseptic (hydrogen peroxide) into the honey they’re creating. Therefore, honey can combat various harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli.

Across folk medicine traditions, it’s been used to treat a variety of bacterial and fungal infections.

Purple Honey Can Soothe A Sore Through & Cough

Honey soothing a sore through and cough isn’t an old wives’ tale. In fact, it’s one of honey’s top benefits. Researchers prove that honey is more effective at suppressing coughs than cough medicines.

The golden reason behind honey successfully suppressing coughs is its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory powers.

Add a teaspoon of purple honey to your hot tea with lemon when a cold hits.

Purple Honey Can Improve Digestive Health

Raw purple honey is a prebiotic food -it nourishes the good bacteria living in your intestines -crucial for digestion al overall health. In addition, raw honey can act as a remedy for ulcers and indigestion.

Read more...  Does Honey Need To Be Refrigerated?

Honey is also occasionally used to treat digestive issues such as diarrhea. However, research is limited.

Purple Honey Helps Keep Blood Glucose Levels In Check

Purple honey has a relatively low glycemic index despite being composed of glucose and fructose. As a result, honey can sweeten foods and beverages without causing a significant spike in blood sugar levels.

Raw honey, including purple honey, is safe for individuals with Type 2 diabetes to enjoy.

Purple Honey Helps Fend Off Disease

Purple honey is a phytonutrient powerhouse, contributing to its exceptional antioxidant and antibacterial powers. In addition, these phytonutrients give your immune system a boost.

Since inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers, honey actively helps prevent heart disease and cancer.

These powerful phytonutrients are the primary reason raw honey has immune-boosting and anticancer benefits.

Purple Honey Helps Support Skin Recovery

While we do not recommend applying luxurious purple honey to your face, it has incredible skin benefits.

Raw honey is known to treat words by promoting faster tissue regeneration while reducing infection.

Does Purple Honey Have Any Risks?

Avoid consuming purple honey if you develop an allergic reaction to this specific honey variety. In addition, purple honey can be risky for individuals with allergies related to either honey or bee products, including beeswax, propolis, pollen, etc.

You can develop an allergy to honey from pollen. Pollen often accidentally seeps into the honey while honeybees collect nectar. A pollen allergy will cause your immune system to go into overdrive and react to the harmless pollen.

You might experience an allergic reaction to purple honey if your body is overly sensitive to the enzyme secretions produced by bees. However, you’ll typically experience an allergic reaction to all honey varieties.

Furthermore, raw purple honey can contain harmful bacteria like Clostridium botulinum, particularly harmful for babies. Therefore, avoid giving raw purple honey to a child under a year old.

The raw, unfiltered purple honey can cause Infant Botulism, including symptoms like:

  • constipation
  • lethargy
  • slow breathing
  • loss of head control
  • paralysis that spreads downward
  • poor feeding

Is Purple Honey Vegan?

The Vegan Society strictly believes that honey is not vegan-friendly, claiming “honey is made by bees for bees.”

Furthermore, the Vegan Society seeks to exclude any form of cruelty and exploitation. So, because bees’ health and food sources can be compromised during honey harvesting, it does not constitute a vegan product.

Various unethical factors come into play that further contribute to why honey isn’t a vegan-friendly product. For example, many profit-driven commercial bee farmers clip the queen bees’ wings to prevent her and the colony from fleeing the hive. The beekeepers replace the harvested honey with artificial sugar syrup that lacks the needed nutrition to support the bees’ health.

Therefore, true, strict vegans stand up against these exploitative practices by avoiding the use of honey and other bee-related products. However, less-strict or self-proclaimed vegans don’t mind purchasing and using honey from beekeepers that strive to ethically remove the excess honey without disturbing the hive or colony of bees.

Raw Purple Honey vs. “Regular” Processed Honey

Raw purple honey and “regular” processed honey is almost incomparable!

“Regular” Honey

When speaking of “regular” processed honey, we refer to the syrupy gold liquid in bear-shaped bottles on grocery store shelves. Processed honey undergoes filtering to remove bee residue, beeswax, pollen, and solids. In addition, filtering helps achieve a smoother, longer-lasting consistency.

Then, the honey undergoes pasteurization, which involves treating honey at high heat to extend the shelf life and prevent crystallization. However, pasteurization, unfortunately, eliminates most of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes found in honey.

Regular honey also generally contains a homogenized version of numerous honey varieties boiled down to produce a product offering a consistent sweet taste, color, and viscosity.

Even when you purchase a bottle of honey labeled as “natural honey,” it can include natural flavoring, corn syrup, or sugar. Sadly, honey authenticity -or the lack thereof- is a persistent concern today.

Raw Purple Honey

Raw, unpasteurized purple honey remains a potent superfood allowing you to embrace the full benefits of honey.

Purple honey contains healthy nutrients, including bee pollen, propolis, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals otherwise destroyed by pasteurization and filtering.

Ensure you purchase purple honey from a reputable vendor to guarantee the highest possible quality of honey.

Does Purple Honey Crystallize?

Purple honey will eventually crystallize like all raw honey varieties.

Honey crystallization is a naturally occurring process; however, it does not indicate that your honey has gone rancid. Instead, all honey is a supersaturated sugar that consists of water and natural sugars. Over time, the glucose sugars start to “precipitate” from the water solution, causing the glucose to form crystals.

Read more...  What Food Group Is Honey In?

While your crystallized purple honey will become grainy and opaque, it does not alter the quality of flavors. Instead, it only proves that your scarce purple honey is raw and unpasteurized.

Crystallization is expected in real honey as it contains natural sugars and pollen.

Can You Reverse Crystallized Purple Honey?

Reversing crystallized purple honey is easy peasy!

Place your purple honey in a “hot tub,” aka a bowl of warm water (around 110°F), to dissipate the grainy, crystal formations if you don’t enjoy the texture of crystallized honey. Note that temperatures above 140°F will ruin the natural health properties of raw honey.

Can You Heat Purple Honey In The Microwave?

Please do not remove the crystals in your purple honey by heating it in the microwave, especially if you are interested in consuming its health benefits.

Microwaving your honey will damage its nutritional properties while warming the honey unevenly. However, microwaving your honey won’t do anything to the flavor profile.

How To Store Purple Honey?

While purple honey does not expire quickly, it can become contaminated.

While your purple honey may start to crystallize over time, it’s safe to eat. However, we recommend discarding the honey if it drastically changes color or smells rancid.

Fortunately, purple honey is straightforward to store correctly. To ensure your purple honey lasts a lifetime (that’s if you can resist eating it by the spoonful), consider following these storage tips to store your purple honey correctly:

  • Aim to keep the honey in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and preferably between 50 to 70°F.
  • Store the purple honey in an airtight glass container.
  • Avoid contaminating your purple honey with dirty utensils. The food or dirt particles can encourage unwanted bacteria, yeasts, and fungal growth.
  • Avoid overheating the purple honey while warming it once crystals form; aim to dissipate the crystals in a bowl of water around 110°F warm.
  • Keep the lid closed and avoid exposing moisture to the honey to prevent fermentation.

Is Purple Honey Expensive?

Purple honey is extremely expensive due to its scarcity.

When a lucky beekeeper happens to locate magical purple honey in one of the hives, there is a great deal of excitement that cannot be hidden!

Apart from the claims that purple honey has a wonderfully sweet, almost grape-like taste, most beekeepers instead take the opportunity to sell the mysterious purple liquid at premium prices, given its rarity.

If you’re on a hunt for a bottle of purple honey, we wish you the best of luck! Unfortunately, despite its hefty price when available, it’s not easy to find either.

The Best Purple Honey Pairings

We love everything purple honey offers, from its unique color and grape soda aroma to its powerful antioxidant abilities and role as a yummy natural sweetener.

You can harness the power of purple honey by incorporating it into your diet or favorite snacks. These straightforward parings may seem simple, but the subtle complexities will keep you coming back for more.

So, here’s the list of the best purple honey pairings that will enhance the honey flavors and food items in new and exciting ways by creating intense, pleasing flavors.

  1. Drizzle a little purple honey over your favorite ice cream to create a colorful explosion of tasty goodness.
  2. Add a teaspoon of purple honey to your favorite drinks, including tea, juices, or smoothies.
  3. Spread your purple honey over a slice of crusty bread for a delightful afternoon snack.
  4. Purple honey offers sweet and elegant grape flavors ideal for baked goods like tarts, muffins, or cheesecake.
  5. Use purple honey in your dipping sauce or marinades as a healthy alternative to sugar.
  6. Drizzle purple honey over brie or camembert cheese, mixed nuts, and fruit platter. Then, add some prosciutto to your board as a mid-afternoon snack to impress your friends.

Conclusion

Purple honey remains a mystery!

Even the most experienced beekeeper won’t possibly be able to hide his excitement from unraveling this blissful shimmering purple liquid. Maybe it does not matter what the process behind purple honey is or where it comes from; perhaps all we need to do is take delight in knowing that this treasure exists.

Author

Theo The Beekeeper

When I was a kid, my dad used to keep bees around the small farm we had, and I absolutely loved helping him. In the past few years, we’ve picked up the hobby again, and I’ve been doing a lot more research. This website is the accumulation of things I’ve learned along the way! You can learn more about my journey and the resources I’ve developed on my about page.

Leave a Comment