View Full Version : Why does "grocery store honey" taste so bad?

08-06-2008, 06:15 PM
I often get this question from customers: "Why does "grocery store honey" taste so bad?"

I don't really know how to answer them, I just say that sometimes if you read the print on the label of grocery store honey, it says "This contains honey from China, canada, and argentina." But that doesn't really explain the taste of it. Could it be that the nectar sources of those honeys are not the best tasting? China has alot of ailanthus trees, and ailanthus honey is said to have an unpleasant taste for some people. We have ailanthus trees here in Virginia and sometimes we get honey from that. Anyways, what could explain the unpleasant taste of "grocery store honey"? I'm sure not all honey from China, Canada, and Argentina tastes the way it does from the store.

So does anybody here know how to explain it?

08-06-2008, 06:18 PM
The honey in grocery stores is heated pretty high and then microfiltered so that it doesn't granulate (very quickly). The heating process kills the enzymes in the honey, which is part. The heating itself changes the honey, and the process of blending for a consistent product takes away much of the character that any individual honey has.

08-06-2008, 06:43 PM
I noticed however, that sometimes, if you can find varietal honey in the store, such as clover,sage, or orange blossom for example, they taste just like they should (taste good).
I read somewhere that what those producers or packagers do when they heat honey is that they heat it up to 165 degrees F, but then they cool it down rapidly. This rapid cooling process results in less damage to the honey and is key to reducing damage to the honey. I imagine that without the rapid cooling process, the honey would probably taste burned.

So what type of blends do you think they mix to get the consistent taste? Clover + alfalfa + buckwheat + other?

08-07-2008, 02:51 AM
When a honey is heated, it kills off a lot of the natural pollens and enzymes that give honey it's flavor characteristics. But, when heated, it allows the honey to be pumped rapidly and forced through filters to remove pollen and prevent crystalizing (or, like it was pointed out, at least retard crystalizing) on the shelves.

When they take it up to 165 degrees F. and cool it rapidly, they're trying to prevent heightened levels of HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) which basically comes from heated sugars. You may wish to do a search here on BeeSource on "HMF" to get a better idea of people's concerns. The US does not measure or monitor HMF levels in honey like other countries do, by the way.

So, heating and filtration are the solid reasons that I believe store bought honey tastes like it does.

Unproven reasons may include production techniques, storage (unlined metal drums, maybe?), adulteration? Who really knows?

But, when you're face to face with the beekeeper himself, you can be reasonably sure of what you're getting!


08-07-2008, 06:36 AM
I think it's a combination of all the factors listed above. For example, when I crush and strain, my honey is very cloudy due to bits of wax and pollen. It tastes distinctively different from when I use an extractor and then strain twice. Both taste good, but a little different from each other. Many consumers want honey to be nearly crystal clear and they associate cloudy honey with "bad honey". Thus, bulk producers heat and filter like crazy, taking everything out that really gives it flavor. Homogenizing it with tons of other honey could easily reduce whatever is left of the character that it once had.

the kid
08-07-2008, 08:36 PM
look out for the blended honey ,,,,, not 100% honey

Michael Bush
08-14-2008, 08:08 PM
Overheated, overfiltered, overblended (but usually with other honey). They purposely try to get light honey because it gets graded "A" by the USDA. :) And, of course, has no flavor to speak of. It also always has a metallic taste. I'm not sure why.