Honey – Not All Is Created Equal

September 10, 2014

HoneySweet as honey…

My mom always used to say that about me. Well, not so much during my teen years but hey – I’m human!

Anyway – honey. Right. Back to that.

Since making the decision to move to an unprocessed lifestyle, I have basically cut out all refined sugar from my family’s diet. Baked good are made with honey. Tea is sweetened with just a teaspoon of the sticky goodness. Coughs are tackled with it.

Honey is not only a better option for you from a caloric standpoint, but it offers up some great heath benefits to boot. But beware. Not all honey is created equal.

Most honey found on the store shelves is filtered or heated. Commercial honey packers that place honey on grocery store shelves heat their honey in the range of 160 degrees F to break down the natural sugar seed crystals and force the honey through micro filters to remove pollen grains. Breaking down the crystals helps keep honey from crystallizing for a longer period of time at store temperatures. Sadly, heat above 115 degrees F destroys the beneficial enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, and aroma of honey. Filtering takes out the beneficial pollen grains.

Some honey isn’t honey at all. It is corn syrup and other nasty additives. Those store brands that are so inexpensive? Check the label. You might be getting corn syrup and no real honey.

I prefer to use local raw honey. Why? So glad you asked!

Raw honey simply means nothing has been done to it. It has not been heated (above natural hive temperatures) or filtered (fine high pressure filtering), and the honey is just simply extracted from the hive and bottled. Liquid honey is also raw honey. It is the way honey comes from the hive. Extracting honey from a honey comb yields a wonderful golden liquid that goes right in the jar. Fresh raw honey will be liquid since it was just extracted from the hives. In fact, all honey is liquid when it is harvested or taken from the hives. As time passes, honey will start to crystallize. Raw honey will crystallize faster than commercially packed honey since it has never been heated or filtered.

The taste of raw honey is beyond compare. It is so rich. You can taste the difference between the types of honey…lavender versus buckwheat for example. You really get the full experience when you use raw honey.

Some honey is referred to as crystallized honey or creamed honey. These names refer to the result of the process honey under goes when changing from a liquid to a solid. Heating just delays the crystallization process, so crystallized honey may have been heated in the past. Just because it is crystallized or creamed doesn’t mean it is raw or that it has been heated. You really need to know your honey source in this case.

There is another interesting honey out there that is often times found at your local Farmer’s Market. Unstrained honey still has all the wax bits and other hive debris in it. This honey is sometimes sold as “really raw honey.” It is pretty interesting. It is crystallized in the jar with the wax bits at the top and chunks of propolus on the bottom. The wax and propolus don’t add much to the beneficial factors of fresh raw honey (although propolus alone has some amazing health benefits) straining these out make the honey more palatable for many.

Long ago I was scared of honey that wasn’t liquid. I thought something was dreadfully wrong with it. Over time, I learned that this was a natural process. Now, I never throw crystallized honey away. Honey will lasts many years stored in a sealed container. If it makes you nervous, you can always heat it up and use it as a face mask!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anna September 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I’m a beekeeper, what you wrote was well-said and correct. Thank you.

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