How it annoys me when a perfectly natrual product is commercialised, and in the process is completely ruined – turned into an empty semblance of what nature intended it to be for the sake of profit, shelf life and aesthetic appeal … and then to add insult to injury the consumer is conned into believing not only that they are getting the real thing, but that this is how it was meant to be all along!
My case in point today is honey – and the vast difference between what we are sold and how it should be. This powerhouse product is packed with phytonutrients, 22 amino acids, 27 minerals and 5000 enzymes. Its benefits are near endless.
As with all our Wild Plum farm products, we aim to supply the very best we can. In the process of learning how to process real honey, we have learned some shocking facts of how not to.
Some of our hives are in beautiful places…
And some are in more practical places…
I will be brave enough to say that all of the honey being sold on our supermarket shelves is not the real thing. Raw, unproceesed honey is a rare find these days, and words like natural and pure are used on labels to fool us into thinking we are buying real honey with all its benefits.
The truth is that real honey is expensive to produce. Two million flowers are needed to collect enough pollen to make just 500g of honey, and to collect that amount of pollen the colony need to clock almost 100 000km! One little bee will produce just one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. This is precious stuff!
There are many evils lurking in the clear liquid honey we are sold – here are a few quick factoids:
- Bees are fed antibiotics to keep them healthy and producing (as with all farming, antibiotics are a good way to protect your heard, and are used witbout regarding the effect of the residue in what we ingest). Honey imported from China has been found to contain Ciprofloxacin.
- Sugar and cheap syrups are placed around hives to increase production and keep bees producing through winter
- Honey is heated (pasteurised) to reduce crystallisation, in other words to give it more shelf appeal. Heating destroys the live enzymes in honey, essentially removing all its goodness.
- Honey is then filtered. As opposed to straining honey, filtering removes all the particles, renedering it clear, but also clear of nutrients.
- Some honey is then watered down to make it easier to pour (and more importantly cheaper). Increasing the ratio of water to glucose and fructose makes it less sweet and so some refined sugar is added to enhance the taste.
And there you have your “natrual” honey on shelf!
Raw, unpasteurised, unfiltered honey is dark, opaque and thick, and it crystallises – and this is all good!
CRYSTALLISATION OF HONEY IS A GREAT GIFT OF NATURE AS IT PRESERVES THE FLAVOUR AND QUALITY OF THE HONEY.
The common misperception is that crystallised honey is “old” or “off” – in truth neither of those can happen to honey. The science of crystallisation is that raw honey is approx. 70% glucose and fructose and less than 20% water; this super saturated sugar solution is unstable, and the glucose, being the less soluble sugar, will crystallise. The tiny pollen and propolis particles act as nuclei and further accelerate the crystallisation process.
Leaving your honey in a bath of warm water, 40°C for 15 minutes or so will return it to its liquid state without destroying any of the goodness.
In closing, here are a few buzzwords (sorry, could not resist!) to look for when buying honey :
raw, unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurised, unprocessed; and look for additives – there should be none. And because so many honey products say very little my failsafe is always “if it doesn’t claim it then it definitely is not it!”