Bulgarian manna honey from Strandzha – remarkable and extraordinary natural product with designation of origin in the EU

Bulgaria has six food products registered as a protected designation of origin in the EU. Union’s quality protection policy aims to preserve certain products and to promote the uniqueness of their qualities linked to their geographical origin and the traditional skills used in their production.

The Bulgarian products with such recognition were certified from 2011 to 2024. Each has unique characteristics linked to the geographical area in which it is produced. Included in the EU register are Gornooryahovski sudzhuk, Bulgarian rose butter (Bulgarsko rozovo maslo), Strandzha manna honey (Strandzhanski manov med), Bulgarian yogurt (Bulgarsko kiselo mlyako), Bulgarian white brine cheese (Bulgarsko byalo salamureno sirene), Herbal tea from Strandzha (Strandzhanski bilkov chay). Еach of these foods deserves a detailed introduction, and we start with the Strandzhanski manov honey because it is a little bit different.

What is manna honey?

The sweet sap called manna, which some tree species produce, is the basis of manna honey. The manta serves as food for small leaf insects, which expel some of it with even more concentrated sweetness. Bees collect exactly this product and store it in their hives. To obtain the finished product with a specific dark colour and slightly bitter taste.

Why manna honey is so special?

Strandzha, one of the most magnetic mountains in Bulgaria, is the home to some of the oldest oak forests that have grown there. The mountain is surrounded by three seas – Black, Aegean and Marmara. During spring and summer, their moist sea air reaches the mountain’s territory and forms light morning mists that cover the forest vegetation. Precisely exact combination of natural conditions supports the development of exceptional plants in combinations unique to Europe.

The Strandzha region is recognized as one of the places with a priority for preservation because it has an impressive diversity of species. Manna honey is even more valuable because local people have been living harmoniously with nature. Beekeeping is one of their main occupations, as the oak forests in the area provide enough food for the honey bees.

How is it produced?

The production process of Strandzha manna honey starts from the surface of the oak leaves, where small insects feed with the sweet juices produced by plants. The humidity and warm climate create perfect conditions for the formation of mildew. During the summer, the sugary juice from the leaves is also the main food of the honey bees, who store it in hives in remote areas of the forests.

Beekeepers wait enough time for the honey to mature before removing the comb and placing it in a special honey centrifuge. There, it is separated from the waxy structure by the principle of centrifugal force. Next are the stages of filtration, homogenization and clarification in special containers for a minimum of 24 hours. The cutting, packing and labelling processes happen in dedicated premises located in the geographical area to ensure quality and traceability. The crystallized honey is liquefied by heating to a temperature no higher than 42°C, reached in the beehive during the honey harvest.

How to use it in cooking?

Delicious and different from other types of honey, manna can be added to various snacks or in salad dressings. It can be added as an ingredient in cocktails when sugaring fruits. It is also used in meat preparation. The honey becomes even more delicious with nuts, dried fruits, cinnamon, butter, mustard, lemon, and nutmeg.

Do you want to travel to the places where it is produced?

We know some of the best places in Bulgaria where honey is produced, and we can take you there. In addition, we will show you a diversity of cultural, historical and natural values. Find more about Boiana-MG Tour Programmes here.

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