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GOOD OL'

SWEET RAW HONEY


Basics

  • RAW HONEY is defined as not being heated past pasteurization

  • PASTEURIZATION is the process of destroying microorganisms with heat

  • CRYSTALLIZATION is the act or process of crystallizing 

Topics

  • Understanding Raw Honey                                                                                    
  • Learning about benefits Raw Honey contains                                                                                                  
  • Discovering the natural process of True Raw Honey

So What's Up With Raw Honey Anyway? 

Raw honey is simply ripe honey that is minimally strained, thus leaving traces of pollen, honeycomb and/or propolis and is not pasteurized. Comb honey is the rawest form sold, because the honey is still capped inside honeycomb cells and eaten directly from the comb. Comb honey is not commonly sold, because Beekeepers prefer to leave the honeycomb for the bees to reuse. (To produce wax, bees must consume eight times as much honey {i.e. it takes 8 lbs of honey to produce 1 lb of wax}) Here at Fly by Day Honey, we feel the bees work hard enough as it is, so we rarely supply comb honey...but upon occasion, we'll offer a limited amount.

So What Happens If Honey Is Pasteurized?

If honey is overheated to the point of pasteurization, it is no longer considered raw honey. Pasteurizing honey destroys the beneficial microbes and enzymes found in raw honey and can alter the the flavor.

Raw honey contains antibacterial properties that are beneficial for healing, which can be used as a natural wound dressing. Local raw honey consumed on a regular basis helps alleviate allergies, due to a higher level of pollen present. 

Operations that pasteurize honey often finely strain honey as well. When honey is finely strained, it depletes that batch of larger particles that give honey so much of its benefits (traces of pollen, honeycomb and/or propolis).

So Why Would Anyone Pasteurize Honey In The First Place?

Great question! Honey producers that pasteurize honey are prolonging the "shelf life" of their product. Honey will eventually crystallize but retailers and the average consumer view this as a sign it's expired and must be thrown away (more on this topic below). Heating honey will indeed slow the crystallization process; prolonging the "shelf life", but the result is basically a liquid sugar depleted of health benefits and even flavor. 

So What Happens When Honey Crystallizes? 

Honey contains 70% or more sugars, which has a natural tendency to crystallize, especially real raw honey. Depending on the the nectar source(s), some varieties crystallize sooner than others. 

Crystallization does not effect the honey other than color and texture. Honey can convert from a flowing golden-amber to a creamy-white sugary solid. Good news though, it is NOT SPOILED! It has simply gone through a natural process, that is actually preserving quality and flavor. Honey has been found sealed in ancient tombs and is known for never expiring.

Once honey crystallizes, it can take on a form of small or large gritty crystals. It can either form a solid on the bottom with a layer of liquid toward the top or be solid all the way through. 

So Crystallization Is a Good Thing...But What Can I do With It?

Again, crystallized honey has not spoiled. It can be used as a spread or directly incorporated in recipes. Give it a try, we personally love the gritty-sugary texture. Taking a spoonful of crystallized honey serves the same purpose as raw liquefied honey and contains the same benefits.

We sometimes offer Creamed Honey later in the season for a Winter treat. Creamed Honey is simply raw honey in a crystallized state, that's whipped to a creamy consistency. 

If you consume honey on a regular basis, you may not have witnessed the crystallization process. If you do however, find that you're honey has converted to a solid, you do have options. 

So What Are My Options?

Inside a beehive, an active colony maintains a temperature at about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. One can assume that the honey itself is maintained within that temperature range

During the winter however, the colony size decreases to conserve resources. If the cluster of bees move away from stored honey, the temperature of the honey will most likely decrease during those colder months. When bees are ready to consume or use that stored food, they will gradually reheat crystallized honey, once their Winter cluster moves toward that area.

As long as honey has not been heated beyond 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it is still considered raw, thus leaving the beneficial properties unharmed.

Crystallized honey can be heated to re-liquefy, but not to the point of pasteurization. Remember, aim to not heat the honey beyond the temperature found in a beehive.

Make sure the honey is in a glass bottle or container. Allow your bottle to gradually heat up in warm-hot water.

  • Bring water to a boil
  • Remove from heat
  • Place bottle in the water
  • Place a candy thermometer inside the honey to monitor the temperature

Even though the water has reached around 200 degrees or lower, the glass is used as an insulator and depending on thickness of the glass, will not heat the honey inside beyond a safe temperature.

You can also fill a cast iron (retains heat) sink up with hot water from your faucet, letting your bottle gradually heat. This may need to be repeated several times to allow the contents to fully liquefy. 

Another great option is placing the glass bottle in the sun on a warm day. After several hours, you'll be amazed how much it's liquefied. Monitor temperature with the candy thermometer if need be, to ensure it's not overheating.

There of course is always conflicting temperature ranges used by Beekeepers, but we prefer to follow the logic trail and what makes sense to us- Look to the bees. 

While the nectar source plays a main role in crystallization, if honey is kept in a cool area, this will speed up the process as well. Find a location to store honey that is typically warmer to help slow down the process.

~Never heat honey in the microwave. This will kill the beneficial enzymes and properties of your raw honey~

 


NOTE: Pediatricians do not recommend feeding infants or children under 1 year of age honey