I’ve have had recent conversations with several friends asking about what’s the best honey to buy. So here’s my quick primer on what to look for when you go to buy honey.
Stuart and I had an inspection of our hives yesterday. Unless something goes horribly wrong in the next few weeks we will have a honey harvest. The Italians are doing really well as are our new hive. We may just take one frame of honey out of the new hive. The feral hive (that was decimated by pesticides) is holding it’s own, but we won’t have any honey from them this year.
Buzz Words to look for!
I may be a little biased, being a Beekeeper, but there are really only 2 important words to look for on Honey Labels:
LOCAL & RAW
But what do these words mean?
LOCAL means just that, the honey is from Beekeepers in your geographical area. And you will be supporting you local beekeepers by purchasing their honey products.
RAW tells you that the honey has not been treated in any way between the hive and the bottle! The honey will have been passed through a sieve to remove any big bits of wax or other debris. Apart from that, this product is just what the bees produced!
More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-honey/#.Wzq7-OS0WM8
That’s a pretty shocking statement and it refers to the generic “honey” you see in any grocery store. So what’s the difference between this and the natural, raw honey local beekeepers produce?
- Ultra-filtered Honey has all the pollen removed. Remove all pollen from honey, & there is no way to tell where that honey was produced.
- Heat – is used in the ultra-filtration process and will destroy many of the healthy properties of raw honey.
- Dilution of honey with water is also part of the ultra-filtration process
- And who on earth knows if high fructose corn syrup has been added to the final product??….
Some honey producers will gently heat & filter honey to remove pollen. This is not the ultra-filtration mentioned above, but a process that gives the honey a longer shelf life and makes it look ‘cleaner’.
If you see Pure Honey on a label you have 100% honey (nothing added) but it many have been heat treated which reduces the health benefits of raw honey.
Single Source Honey
it’s what it says – bees have produced honey from a single flower source; Acacia, Orange Blossom, Manuka etc. I’ve seen several numbers in literature, but single source honey is less than 50% from that single source. This is where you get the different shades of yellow and brown honeys – different colors, different tastes, different consistency.
It’s worth saying that all honey will eventually crystalize but that some single source honeys are more prone to crystalizing than others. Honey that’s crystalized can be re-liquified with gentle heat (not in the microwave!).
MANUKA HONEY probably deserves a special mention, & you may see it called ‘medicinal honey’. Raw honey is full of health giving ingredients: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, anti-oxidants …….. Manuka Honey is made from bees feeding on the Manka Bush in Australia & New Zealand. It has been determined to have the highest bioactivity of all honeys. It’s expensive, but I’ve talked to people who swear by it for keeping them healthy!
If you ever see the above seal on a pot of honey – you’ll definitely know that you have honey that has been inspected and checked. It’s the Real Deal!!
I look forward to telling you about our 1st honey harvest adventures. Round here the target date for this is 4th July – we will have something to celebrate!