Determination of sugars in honey

What you need to know about the determination of sugars in honey?

Monosaccharides fructose and glucose are sugars found at very high concentrations in honey.

Sucrose (disaccharide) is the main sugar contained in nectar and honeydew of plants, while it is often a component of honey in small concentrations.

Flower honey differs in composition from honeydew honey. Honeydew contains a higher percentage of oligosaccharides, mainly trisaccharides (e.g. raffinose, melezitose), which are not found in flower honeys.

Flower honeys are richer in simple sugars (glucose and fructose) than honeydew honeys, but poorer in disaccharides. Maltose occurs mainly in honeydew honeys, while its concentration in honey is higher compared to sucrose.

European legislation sets the maximum sucrose content in honey at 5g/100g.

Exceptions are honeys derived from:

  • Robinia pseudoacacia, Medicago sativa, Banksia menziesii, Hedysarum, Eucalyptus cam adulensis, Eucryphia lucida, Eucryphia milliganii, citrus spp., with the maximum level of sucrose set at 10g/100 g,
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.) and Borago officinalis with a maximum sucrose level of 15g/100g.

Moreover, according to European legislation, the content of fructose and glucose (sum of two) for nectar honeys cannot be less than 60g/100g, while for honeydew honeys or combinations of flower and honeydew honeys, the content of fructose and glucose (sum of two) cannot be less than 45g/100g.

Sugars in honey provide information regarding the sweetness, nutritional value, degree of crystallization, as well as the geographical and botanical origin of honey.

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