Abbathu or abbamele or sapa di miele is among the most ancient gastronomic products in Sardinian rural culture and is nowadays recognized as a typical Sardinian product of our island.
It is obtained through the cooking of the honeycombs, which contain honey and pollen, togetherwith lemon or orange peel. The flavour has a reminiscence of spices, roasting and caramel, persistent and agreeably bitter. An acid shade is well blended with the sweet base.
In addition to honey and pollen it contains traces of royal jelly, propolis and also beeswax. The
“abbathu” contains all the healthy characteristics of honey and propolis which notoriously has
antibiotic properties (bacteriostat and bactericide), antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, antiinflammatory, immunostimulatory, antioxidant, anaesthetic, healing and vasoprotective.
It is a very energetic sustenance appropriate for sportsmen, for youngs, seniors and also for people going through recovery.
In Sardinia it is used in the preparation of traditional cakes, but it can be also consumed with bread for breakfast or for a snack, served on “seadas”, with fresh ricotta, yogurt, ice-cream, pudding and fruit-salads, to garnish salads instead of aceto balsamico.
When ,approximately thirty years ago, the beekeeping was mainly rustic and traditional, based on the use of specific hives (made of cork) currently no longer being used, the “abbamele” used to be prepared after the honey extraction which was performed through the squeezing out and/or pressing the honeycombs and the wax, stored in dedicated containers, containing 20 to 30% of the honey.
In the days following the honey extraction, the honeycombs containing residual honey and pollen were immersed in hot water (about 50°C), in order to melt the rest of the honey contained in the wax, by mixing the lumps of wax and pollen.
The wax would then be further squeezed and stored in specific containers. The remaining water from the previous phase of the process was filtered with a linen-cloth at least two times, and than stored in an ample boiler. At this point the refinement process through the cooking started, lemon, orange or quince peels were added and the impurities were expelled from the surface. This process was performed by continuously and carefully mixing to prevent the risk of burning which would inevitably generate a smoked flavour. The liquid in the boiler would become thicker, syrupy and the colour dark brown, the taste sweet but also somewhat bitter.
When the liquid reached the consistency of the honey the boiler was removed from the fire and positioned where the liquid could become lukewarm and then poured in the pots.
Considering that beekeeping techniques have improved and the development of the “rational
beekeeping” based on the rational hives (wooden boxes with mobile honeycombs), the process for the production of the “abbathu” has also slightly evolved but the product keeps its peculiar and traditional properties and characteristics.
In the new procedure the wax deriving from the squeezing and/or the pressure of the honeycombs is replaced by pure honey or honey from the wax melter which is mixed with water, pollen and citrus peel and stored in proper containers to get a consistency which is similar to the honey.