Having already treated of the best methods of taking the honey from hives (see vol. i. p. 227), we shall in this place only observe, that the honey produced by young bees, and which flows spontaneously, is purer than that expressed from the comb ; whence it is called virgin-koney: the best sort is of a thick consistence, and of a whitish colour inclining to yellow; it possesses an agreeable smell and a pleasant taste.
As an article of food, when immoderately used, honey is pernicious to weak stomachs ; it ought, therefore, to be avoided by persons liable to eruptions of the skin, or in whom there is a redundancy of bile. This vegetable essence contains an acid, similar to that of sugar, but is more spirituous : hence it readily ferments, occasions flatulency, and in some habits produces gripes and looseness.
As a medicine, however, it is a very useful aperient and expecto-rant, especially when it has been previously boiled ; in which state it may be used with safety and advantage by asthmatic patients ; for it tends to dissolve viscid humours, and to promote the expectoration of tough phlegm. - See also Chapped Hands.
Notwithstanding these salubrious properties of honey, it is apt to produce effects very detrimental to those phethoric, bilious, febrile, or cachctiic patients, who trust to it as a remedy in coughs, arising from, or connected with, pulmonary complaints. The writer of this article Las lately seen two mournful instances of young fe-males, each of whom, by a singular infatuation, had swallowed such quantities of a quack medicine, called " the balsam of honey," as amounted to the sum of ten guineas, in order to cure a catarrhal cough, and to prevent it from attacking the lungs. Unfortunately, however (and let it be recorded here as a warning to others)., they had proceeded too far in slighting an organic affction, which preyed on the functions of life; and both, in the course of six months, fell victims to a fatal delusion.
Although Prof. Lowitz has sa-tisfactorily proved that honey may, by a chemical process, be consolidated into sugar ; yet, as such a change would not be profitable, where the former is sold at a much higher price than the latter, we shall suggest a more advantageous mode of employing this balsamic juice. If a pound of honey be dissolved in three or four quarts of water, and exposed to a temperature between the 70th and 80th degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer, it will in a short time become a very agreeable acid liquor, which possesses an aromatic flavour, and strength, superior to that of the best vinegar made of white wine. As the latter is frequently adulterated, and incomparably more expensive than the substitute we have proposed, this appears to deserve every attention in domestic economy.