can anyone tell me of a website or other reference telling how to make creamed honey? I have seen some vague instructions but never a complete, detailed way of making creamed honey. thank you
This came from a NZ website. Sorry don't know the URL, had it on my hard drive - -
This article appeared in the NZ Beekeeper No. 194, in
Winter, 1987, pp 18-19. I was writing under the name
Skep at the time for the Beginners' Notes...
What are you going to do with all that honey you produced? A
good question it is, too! Here you are, a proud hobbyist with three
or four hives, and you've just produced your first really good crop
of honey. Let's assume that you did manage to get it all extracted.
In the process of doing that, you probably ruined a variety of
kitchen implements, and you probably tracked honey all through the
house, transferring it from comb to hands to door knob to the rest
of the family. So up to this point, you've done it all just the way
everyone else does the first time. If you're really smart, you will
have filed away all the information for the next time.
Things like the handcrank extractor and the way it walks across
the floor unless someone holds it down. Next year you'll remember
to arrange some turnbuckles to securely fix it to the floor.
And that bag of cappings that hung around for a week to drain!
Next year you'll arrange a proper place to hang it, away from the
ants and the carpet. So this year, you probably ran the liquid gold
directly from the extractor into all the various sized jars you could
locate. You ate a lot of it, gave away a lot more to friends,
neighbours and relations. You maybe even sold some of the excess
With this article, I'd like to get you to thinking about how you as a
hobbyist can best prepare and package your honey for
presentation to others, whether as a gift or to sell.
The three most important quality control factors in dealing with
honey are completely within your control. Too much heat, too
much moisture and too many bees' legs are the three things that
can most easily damage your product.
Heat is an easy one for you as a hobbyist, nothing at all like the
problem that it presents for the commercial beekeeper. There is no
reason in the world that you should need to heat your honey at all.
Apart from the heat of the uncapping knife, your honey can be
handled at room temperature. If you extract it immediately after
removing it from the hive, so much the better.
Excess moisture, leading to off flavours and fermentation, can be
avoided through attention all the way through the
honey-from-the-hive to honey-in-the- jar process. Don't extract
honey until it is thoroughly ripened. Often, especially if the flow is
still on, it may not all be completely capped. Take a frame and
shake it over the open hive; if it is thoroughly ripened, it should not
shake like water out of the comb.
Once you have extracted the honey, keep the containers covered.
Honey can take moisture from the air, so don't leave it exposed,
especially if you have to store it in moist or less than favourable
Try to avoid incorporating small air bubbles with the honey as you
run it through a fine strainer. Don't simply let it drip through the
strainer and into a container; place something in the container so
the honey will run down rather than fall into the honey already in
No matter how well you strain the honey after extracting, you will
still need to 'skim' it a day or so later. The froth that floats to the
surface of the honey will contain small bubbles and wax particles.
Gently skimming it from the surface of the honey container will
remove it and greatly improve the visual quality of your honey.
Depending on the quantity of honey you have to deal with, there
are some excellent containers available to hold your honey until you
are ready to run it into its final jars or plasic pottles. Food grade
plastic containers can be fitted with a plastic tap. Fit a rubber seal
and tighten so there will be no leak. If you don't have enough
honey to justify such a container, plastic Polypails make a good
Have you ended up some years with jars of honey granulated so
hard that you couldn't even get a knife into it? Honey so hard it
tore the bread every time you tried to spread it? Honey with gritty
bits of sugar crystals in it?
It's still honey, of course. Nothing really wrong with it, other than
inconvenience and the chance of putting some people off honey
The 'creamed honey' sold in New Zealand would have to be the
source of the most often repeated myth about honey. No foreign
materials have been added to honey to make it granulate smoothly.
No icing sugar, white sugar, flour, cream or lard (yes, I have been
told that's what beekeepers add to their honey!) or any other such
There is no reason at all that you, as a hobbyist beekeeper, should
not have a go a making your own creamed honey, rather than
simply rely on good luck to get a smoothly granulated honey.
Though the results might be somewhat variable, you'll have a good
time learning a little more about your hobby.
Creaming honey is simply controlling the natural crystalisation
process. Almost all honeys will eventually naturally granulate, most
within a few months while others remain liquid for longer. In
England, such naturally granulated honeys are called 'set honey'.
The speed and the texture that the honey granulates is mostly a
product of the ratio of the two main sugars of honey, dextrose and
levulose. For a reason never clearly explained to me, sugars often
have two names, confusing things very nicely, thank you. Dextrose
is also known as glucose and levulose is known as fructose. And
just to add to the confusion, levulose is also known to many people
as fruit sugar.
If a honey has a high dextrose to levulose ratio, it will granulate
rapidly with a fine crystal. If it has a high levulose content, it will
granulate slowly and often with crystals large enough that you can
feel their sharpness on your tongue.
To 'cream' honey, the beekeeper mixes in a percentage of honey
that has already granulated finely. This honey is called a 'starter',
since its crystal structure will start the liquid honey to granulate in
the same manner. In order speed up the granulation, the starter
needs to be thoroughly mixed with the liquid honey, and then the
container needs to be kept cool. Not cold, not refrigerator style
cold, but simply cool. The ideal temperature is about 14 degrees
Celcius (57 degrees Farenheit).
Keeping the honey at this temperature causes it to granulate as
rapidly as possible, and since it has already got a nice grain
started, the entire volume will granulate the same as the starter
you introduced. It should be stirred occasionally during the
process. Once the granulation is well established, the now cloudy
looking honey can be run into its final containers. Again, it should
be kept cool to assist rapid granulation.
In practical terms, you begin the process by finding some finely
granulated honey. This might be some from last season that you
have kept back or you could even buy it from another beekeeper or
the shop. I like to add as much as possible, even up to 6 kg or so
for a Polypail of honey, but you probably don't really need this
much. If you like, you can start out with a small amount of starter
and bulk it up by carrying out the process twice.
Stir the starter honey thoroughly into the liquid honey. It won't be
easy, but you need to completely spread the granulated honey
thorough the liquid. Afterward, keep it cool by placing your bulk
container (well covered, of course) in a cool room, such as a
basement or cold closet.
Stir it several times over the next week. It should start clouding, as
the granulation spreads rapidly through the honey. You can now
run it into the containers in which you will be distributing it, and
again, keep them cool. The honey should be nicely creamed, set
with a fine, smooth grain, within a week or two.
Kiwi beekeepers have been carrying out this process for over 60
years. They figured out that long ago a practical scheme for
controlling the granulation in honey.
Credit for the 'scientific' approach to creamed honey goes to an
American, a Dr Dyce who was a beekeeping professor at Cornell
University. He described a complex and detailed method to produce
creamed honey that differs little from the basic description given
above. He did meticulously give temperatures and amounts, such
as the ideal temperature to heat the honey before adding the
starter, to make sure there were no natural crystals present in it.
I've always felt that we as Kiwi beekeepers never really got all the
credit we really deserved. The way I understand it, Dr Dyce visited
New Zealand and saw the process in action several years earlier!
As I mentioned earlier, your results may be somewhat variable. Its
possible that, even after following all the directions, your honey
might still set hard as a rock. Doing it as a hobbyist as you are, you
can't control all the factors involved, but the odds are that you'll
produce a better product than just trusting to natural granulation.
If you get really interested in the process, you might care to read
further on what is quite a specialised subject. I can't see how
anyone could ever tire of being a hobbyist beekeeper, not if you've
really got an inquisitive mind about how things work. Beekeeping
provides you with all sorts of excuses to go off on tangents as
diverse as entomology and food technology, to say nothing of
apicultural botany and woodworking!