Orange Blossom Honey

Orange Blossom

Orange Blossom honey is often made from mixed citrus nectars (Citrus ssp.) including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, mandarins, tangerines, limes and many others. It is a thick, very sweet honey. Initially the aroma is of medium intensity reminiscent of orange blossoms. With time, it takes on an additional delicate fruity aroma like marmalade with slightly citric acid tones. Light amber to white, the lighter color and milder flavor coming in years when there is a large harvest and the honey is little contaminated by other nectars. It will darken with age and crystallizes slowly into granules of various sizes. It is difficult to tell the dominant citrus species by pollen analysis, but different proportions of citrus nectar and other plants can change the color, flavor and aroma. Orange Blossom honey contains caffeine which is a unique characteristic, although the amount is less than 4mg/Kg of honey, much less than decaffeinated coffee. Another unique marker is the

Orange Blossom Honey

Orange Blossom honey has a sweet and mild flavor and a light citrus fruity taste. A pollen count of Citrus species is generally targeted at 20% or higher to be labeled Orange Blossom Honey. This may seem low, but because of its naturally low pollen count, this indicates a much higher proportion of Orange Blossom nectar. Pure Orange Blossom honey is rare in Florida because of other citrus plants blossoming within the range of bees. In California a higher proportion is more common because of lack of competition by other plants at nectar flow time. In Italy, if the proportion of nectar from other citrus plants is too high and it influences the taste and color, the honey may be named Citrus honey. The primary orange species is usually the sweet orange (C. sinensis), however there are variations. In Italy it is produced in Corsica as Clementine Honey (C. reticulata), in Sicily from Sweet Oranges (C. Sinensis) and in Calabria as Citrus honey (a mix of lemon, mandarin, bergamot, citron nectars) and on occasion as a single flower honey such as Bergamot Honey.

The visual experience of an orange grove in full bloom of white blossoms in contrast to the dark green leaves, combined with the the sweet fragrance of the nectar-filled blossoms is a wonder to behold and never forget! Common species of orange are C. Sinensis – Sweet, C. Aurantium – Bitter, C. Reticulata – Mandarin, and C. Bergamia – Bergamot in Calabria, Italy.

Citrus Slices

The Citrus plant originated in southeastern Asia where it was likely carried by the Arabs into Africa and Spain and later by Spanish settlers into Florida. Other important hybrids of Citrus, the grapefruit (C. × paradisi), the lime (C. × latifolia), and the lemon (C. x limon) and the tangerine (C. × Tangerina).

Specific Markers of Citrus HoneyA minimum pollen count of 15 to 20% and the ester, Methyl anthranilate (MA) with minimum concentrations of approx 0.5 ppm. Esters are commonly used in the fragrance and flavor industry for their pleasant fruity odor. MA has aroma characteristics described as fruity, concord grape, musty with a floral powdery nuance.

Honey Origins: Italy (Sicily, Calabria), Spain (Granada), Mexico, France, and USA (Florida, Southern California, Texas, Arizona), Israel.

Translations: Portuguese: Mel de flor de laranjeira, Spanish: Miel de azahar, Italian: Miele di arancio (orange blossom) – Miele di agrumi (citrus spp.), French: Miel de fleur d’oranger; Miel d’oranger; Miel de Mandarinier, Greek: μέλι πορτοκαλιού, German: Orangenblüten Honig

Therapeutic: Plays a beneficial role for intestinal problems and nervousness. Its is recommended to treat insomnia, added to herbal teas. A study shows that Sweet Orange honey may also decrease the affects of alcohol intoxication. See Effect of Nigerian citrus (Citrus sinensis Osbeck) honey on ethanol metabolism

Protected Geographical Status (PGS) framework (PDO/PGI) – EU: Miel de Granada (Spain) from Citrus Sinensis. Produced in the province of Granada, in valley areas where these crops are abundant. The Lecrín Valley and La Alpujarra, Sierra Nevada are the main production areas. Spain requires the pollen content to be greater than 15% of Citrus species. Typical percentages are 17% to 40%.

Unique markers for Mono Floral Orange Blossom Honey: Since citrus honey is under-represented by pollen (minimums of 15% to 20%), it is difficult to use this as a measure of the purity or origin. Two markers proposed are hesperetin and the ester, methyl antranilate (MA). MA shows most promise as a marker with minimum concentrations of MA of approx 0.5 ppm proposed. MA is an ester which are commonly used in the fragrance and flavor industry for their pleasant fruity odor. MA has aroma characteristics described as fruity, concord grape, musty with a floral powdery nuance. While hesperatin was found in citrus honey, there was no strong correlation between hesperatin and citrus pollen count.

Image Credit – Orange Blossoms: Ellen Levy Finch (Elf) GNU Free Documentation License Citrus Slices from Photo by Scott Bauer.

Further Reading:
Physico-chemical methods for characterization of unifloral honeys: a review (pdf – 167Kb)
Methyl Anthranilate – Good Scents People

13 comments to Orange Blossom Honey

  • Laura Sabella

    I am interested in distributing the honey. I live in Orlando, FL and I would like to know the details of this market. Thank You

  • HT

    Hi Laura:

    Here is a list of honey wholesalers in Florida. This is probably a good place to start.


  • jessica

    Estou interessada, em tomar, onde encontro para comprar no Brasil?

  • Paolo

    Hello, are there any evidences of vitamines in that honey?

  • Hi Paolo:

    Honey, just as the plants that produce the nectar, does have trace amounts of vitamins. Recent studies show that amounts vary widely between different nectar/plant types and even within different samples of similar nectar types and locals. This is also due to the amount of pollen contained within the honey sample. Vitamin content decreases when the honey is micro filtered as a consequence.

    From the study cited below for 100mg from 30 samples from the USA and 7 samples for other countries:
    Thiamin (B1): 2.1 – 9.1 μg
    Riboflavin (B2): 35 – 135 μg
    Ascorbic Acid (C): .5 – 6.5 mg
    Pyridoxine (B6): 227 – 480 μg
    Pantothenic Acid (B5): 25 – 190 μg
    Nicotinic Acid (B3): 4 – 92 mg

    VITAMIN CONTENT OF HONEYS (Published in the Journal of Nutrition 1942 (PDF)
    Divisions of Entomology and Economie Zoology and Agricultural Biochemistry,
    University Farm, St. Paul, Minnesota


  • Chuck

    In whole, how much orange blossom honey do you think the state of florida produces? I’m working on a report and I don’t know where the best place to find honey production numbers. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Hi Chuck:

    You can start here with the Honey production report from the National Agriculture Statistics Service.


  • Ellen J Dow

    What is the best time of year to purchase orange blossom honey? I know that it darkens and crystalizes with age, and I want to minimize the chances of these things happening.
    Thanks so much. I loved your article!

  • Ellen J Dow

    p.s. I meant to mention that I am seeking the best timing to purchase orange blossom honey which is produced specifically in California.

  • Ellen J Dow

    p.s. I meant to mention that I am seeking the best timing to purchase orange blossom honey which is produced specifically in California. It is actually labeled citrus blossom honey vs. pure orange blossom honey.
    Thanks again, and all the best.

  • Hi Ellen
    For the best chance to get fresh honey you will need to buy the honey during or just after blossoming season in March, April and May. Here is a nice explanation of commercial citrus growing in California for reference.

  • Ellen

    That was so nice of you to get right back to me! Thank you so much. I absolutely love honey, as you might have guessed 🙂

  • Pep

    I fortunately come to Valencia (Spain) where the cultivation of oranges as well as other citrus fruits is common. Without a doubt the orange blossom honey for my taste is one of the best. To us it is provided by an organic orange farmer and the truth is that it is delicious.

Leave a Comment or Question




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>