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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Mapleton, ME
    Posts
    28

    Question

    I have read many books on the subject of bees and beekeeping, but I still do not have a clear picture of the "process" of processing honey. Do you need to heat the exctracted honey before putting it in bottles or not? Some sources say that "raw" honey (i assume this means no heat) is the best for everyone. Some books don't even say a word about heating the honey. Other books tell you to heat the honey to a certain temp. before putting it in bottles to prevent it from becoming solid. Can someone please point me to an artical on the web or tell me the pro's and con's of heat vs. no heat? Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,797

    Post

    Back in the old days, AI Root and others did surveys to find out why people did or did not buy honey. What they thought of it etc. They discovered that many people didn't buy honey because they believed when it crystalized that it had "spoiled" and they threw it away. Because of this concept it become common to heat the honey when processing it so that it would not crystalize as easily. Also heating it made it easier to process because it would flow.

    If you've ever tasted "raw" honey and the heated stuff from the store, you wouldn't be ambivelent about it. "Raw" honey is awesome tasting. Heated honey is pretty blah compared to it. Some health food people beleive that heating deteriorates other things besides the obvious flavor and that it loses some of it's healthful effects. Since the enzymes the bees put in honey are part of the reason it has antibacterial properties and other properties and since enzymes are very heat sensitive, this is not an unreasonable assumption. In Europe they measure certain chemicals in the honey to see if it has been heated and grade the honey accordingly.

    I never heat mine at all unless it is crystalized and then I try to only warm it enough to liquify it.

    However, I do prefer to extract on a nice hot summer day, because the honey flows much easier. But this is not nearly as hot as the big plants heat their honey when they process it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Mapleton, ME
    Posts
    28

    Post

    Thanks for the info. So I guess that no heat is the way to go if I will be selling it myself, but I am thinking of trying to supply the local grocery store with honey later this year. Do you know how long it takes raw honey to crystalize vs. heated honey. I have no idea. Are we talking weeks vs. years or what? Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,797

    Post

    I'm afraid it depends on the nectar source, the temperature the honey is stored and whether or not some crystals are already present in your honey, your buckets etc. The colder the honey is stored the more it crystalized. Room temperature is the best for storage.

    I have seen honey crystalize as quickly as a month and I've seen it stay liquid for a year or more. Personally, if I could, I'd strike a deal with the grocery store to simply come in and replace any that crystalized while they have it, that way you get to sell a higher quality product without them worrying about it crystalizing. Then you can liquify it yourself gently enough to not affect it much and put it back on the shelf.

    I think the trick is to get them (the grocery store and the customer) to understand the difference in the taste.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,797

    Post

    Also, I've seen labels on raw honey that explain some of this. That because it is raw honey it has more taste, but it also crystalizes easier and if it does you should put the jar in some hot tap water to recrystalized it etc.

    Some people need reassurance that honey will not spoil. It will keep literally for thousands of years, but most people do not know this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    deggary,
    I supply a number of local stores with "raw honey" and label it as such. Many of the bee supply houses have a label to explain raw honey and how to liquefy crystalized honey.
    Many of the people look for jars that have already crystalized, so they are sure it is raw. But, this will depend on your customers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Elizabethtown,KY
    Posts
    260

    Post

    deggary,
    I heat my honey to 150 degrees. This is essential I believe when selling comb honey so the customer can see the comb and the honey does not crystallize around it. Even though I heat my honey-and I have to because many times it has crystallized toward the end of winter-my customers still say it's the best they've ever tasted.
    The honey in stores that we as beekeepers see and do not care for is usually a blend of honeys from many parts of the country and sometimes the world. Hence the plain Jane
    honey with no real flavor.
    Personally, I think you can have better sales if you can keep the honey "pretty" by keeping it clear. On the other hand there is a web site called "Really Raw Honey" and this person sells their honey at a premium.If people don't mind the raw honey and they do understand the benefits-something about more enzymes-then it'll save you a lot of work!

    Denise

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Elizabeth, CO,
    Posts
    20

    Post

    Sorry if this is a little off topic but I recently bought some honey that was labeled as unprocessed and unfiltered. I assume unprocessed means unheated but the honey actually had a “bad” taste. Hard to describe but it had a very strong after taste. In this case my national brand store bought honey tasted much better than the “raw” honey. Does nectar source alone define the taste or could this unprocessed honey been heated or “processed". Can honey go bad?

    [This message has been edited by Steve Hamilton (edited March 07, 2003).]

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,797

    Post

    If you extract honey too "green" (read too much moisture) it can ferment. Otherwise honey does not spoil. I have wondered if everyone with their essential oils doesn't taint the honey sometimes, and yes, some nectar is not only bad tasting, but poisonious. Luckily not many plants in the US are very poisonious but some are and they say they usually taste very bitter.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,834

    Post

    >the honey actually had a “bad” taste. Hard to describe but it had a very strong after taste

    Perhaps you tasted a darker stronger honey... Maybe it is that your use to the common blend honey taste packers sell, and this honey caught you by surprise. I know lots of people who don't like the stronge taste of darker honey.

    Ian

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,797

    Post

    That's also true. I love sourwood honey, but it is dark and strong tasting. What my grandpa would call "Lairapin'"

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