Mineral and volatile composition of água-mel from Portugal


Água-mel (honey–water) is a typical honey-based product produced by the Portuguese beekeepers, particularly in southern Portugal. Água-mel was characterized by mineral content and volatiles contents. Mineral content evaluation was performed based on a random sampling of 14 samples from a total of 16 samples provided by local producers. Mineral content showed that potassium predominated in água-mel samples (1270–4105 mg/kg). The concentration of aluminium in one sample was tenfold higher (5.8 mg/kg) than in the remaining samples (0.3–0.6 mg/kg). Água-mel volatiles were isolated by hydrodistillation and analysed by gas chromatography (GC) and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) from a subset of eight samples. Cluster analysis showed two poorly correlated clusters (S corr < 0.3). Cluster I only sample was dominated by trans-β-ocimene (19 %), γ-terpinene (15 %) and 2-furfural (9 %). Cluster II that included the remaining seven samples showed two moderately correlated subclusters (S corr < 0.5). The six samples with high correlation from subcluster IIa were dominated by 2-furfural (18–41 %) and benzene acetaldehyde (12–39 %). n-Nonadecane (14 %), n-heneicosane and 2-furfural (both 13 %) were the main components of subcluster IIb sample. Although the presence of some volatile compounds can help in the correlation between água-mel and honey botanical source, the final product varies largely according to the preparation process even for the same producer, in different years. Água-mel detailed characterization may assist in bringing added value to this typical Portuguese honey-based product.

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Fig. 1



Gas chromatography


Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry


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This study was partially funded by Ministério da Agricultura, Mar, Ambiente e Ordenamento do Território (Portugal) under research contract Programa Apícola Nacional 2011–2013, Medida 6A, and by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), under Pest–OE/EQB/LA0023/2011 and UID/AMB/50017/2013.

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Correspondence to Maria Graça Miguel.

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Miguel, M.G., Aazza, S., Antunes, M.D. et al. Mineral and volatile composition of água-mel from Portugal. Eur Food Res Technol 242, 171–178 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-015-2528-5

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  • Portugal
  • Água-mel
  • Honey
  • Mineral composition
  • Volatiles