What is raw honey? Isn’t it all the same?
Raw honey is in its natural state out of the comb. Unheated and unfiltered. It is prized for the enzymes and pollen the bees incorporate in the collection process. Some people believe local raw honey helps with seasonal allergies since local bees are collecting pollen and nectar from what is blooming in their area.
Filtering and heating honey destroy the raw honey advantages. Most honey sold in grocery or mass stores in the squeezy bear is conventionally processed. It is finely filtered to remove pollen (improve clarity) and high temperature heated to destroy crystals. While it’s calorie content and low glycemic properties are the same, the nutrients abounding in raw foods have been eliminated. To retain the nutritional profile of raw honey, it should never be heated above 140 degrees (no microwaving or baking).
Where our Certified NC honey comes from…
The best bees! Ours forage in NC’s Wake, Chatham, and Wilkes counties to bring home a lovely nectar blend for the sweetest honey. We are proud to support and display the NC Certified Honey label which meets or exceeds the NC Honey Standard by the NC State Beekeeping Association. Sources estimate that up to 75% of the honey sold in most mass market stores is imported and dubious in content (often adulterated with corn or rice syrup). Buying Certified honey ensure that what you purchase is truly 100% NC honey!
As part of the NC Certified Honey program, we have our honey lab tested to determine its floral sources (sometimes the bees just won’t fess up on where they’ve been). Read more about our honey analysis done by Texas A&M’s labs here. But here’s the thumbnail version:
Buck Naked Wildflower: holly, clover, gallberry, virginia creeper, oak, black gum, plantain, rose, mustard, citrus, grape, buttercup, blackberry, maple, sunflower, sweet gum, magnolia, wax myrtle, willow, chestnut, and 3% unknown (?!)
Buck Naked Sourwood: sourwood, virginia creeper, plantain, sumac, rose, clover, willow, crepe myrtle, sunflower, grape, and corn.
Why is my honey crunchy?
All honey is a supersaturated sugar solution (with a water content below 18%). Remember high school chemistry? Supersaturated – that’s how we make rock candy. As water evaporates, sugar crystalizes out of the solution. And so it is with honey. All honey will eventually crystalize. But some nectar sources crystalize faster than others. It depends on what the bees have collected. Heating honey will temporarily halt crystal growth, but remember from above that it also destroys those lovely raw enzymes. So raw honey, by nature, tends to crystallize faster than store-bought.
So should I throw it out?
No! There’s nothing wrong with your honey. Gently warming (no boiling or microwaving!) in a warm water bath will restore the liquid consistency and keep the good stuff in. It will however, restart the march toward crystallization. Storing honey in a warm location (near a stove or above a cabinet light) can help slow the process as well.
We treat our bees with great care. They exhaust themselves for the benefit of the hive, so we respect their ethic. We manage our hives with all naturally for their health (and ours.) So we leave them the food they gathered and made – honey! It’s what they eat year round. And boy do they hoard it! Some folks take everything the bees collect, but we leave our bees their own food for winter and gratefully share in the excess. We love it, but so do they.
Foragers working garlic chives