Raw & Unprocessed Honey?

a5lbRaw & Unprocessed Honey? Unfiltered Honey? Pasteurized Honey?
What's the difference?
These questions were from a really good email that was sent to us from Barbara in Michigan.

 

Q. Your label just states honey yet you claim to have raw and unprocessed honey. How come you do not label it raw.

A. Raw & unprocessed honey is available at our sales stand in the fall when we fill your own containers from our bulk tank. We fill this barrel with honey directly from our extracting barn and it is raw & unprocessed.

The wildflower/clover mix table grade honey that has been put in containers for wholesale or retail sales is not filtered or pasteurized! We warm our honey only to 130 to 135 degrees, cooler than most residential hot water tanks. This will retard granulation, a natural condition of honey for a short period of time. This low temperature warming allows us to lightly “strain” the honey through cheesecloth and pack it into containers. Any occasional honey crystals that may appear due to this more natural treatment may be melted by putting the jar of honey into hot water.

This unfiltered honey is not completely "raw" because it has been warmed slightly and therefore should not be labeled as such.

 

Q. If a label does not state raw then is the honey heated? Why would the honey need to be heated?

A. If the label does not state "raw" it most likely has been heated. Also very few raw honeys (with some exceptions) are liquid - raw honey will usually granulate within a few weeks.

Packers need to heat honey to retard granulation. Most customers in a grocery store think that granulated honey is a defect and will not purchase it. Large honey packers sometimes heat their honey to 160 degrees and filter it. This will keep it looking very nice on a store shelf but the taste may be degraded.

12ozcrQ. I have seen some honey labeled raw and it is completely white. Does this mean it has completely crystalized?

A. Yes. Raw & unfiltered honey will usually granulate smooth and solid after a month or two.

When heated honey granulates the texture of the honey will be very coarse. These coarse crystals do not hurt anything but do not look as nice - This honey can be liquified very easily in hot water.

Q. Do you dilute your honey with water? Reason I ask is that I know of a beekeeper in Europe and he says that the standards for honey here in the States are different. Also, the honey in Europe is much thicker because supposedly the beekeepers ARE NOT allowed to dilute it but in the US they can.

A. NO REPUTABLE HONEY PRODUCER IN THE USA WOULD ADD WATER TO THEIR HONEY! Besides it being illegal it would cause the honey to ferment and become unsaleable. Honey does not remain stable if the moisture content is too high. Anybody who would say that US beekeepers routinely do such a thing is either uninformed or has a political agenda.

Many Europeans love to bash the USA. It is true the standards in the USA are different - They are much higher. With all the different governments in Europe there are no uniform regulations - every country does whatever it wants. The USA has very strict food & drug laws. Many treatments to honeybees that are used in Europe are not legal in the USA.

Recently, China was caught using an illegal antibiotic and it was found in their honey. This honey did not pass our standards and was not allowed to enter the US.

The thickness or density of honey can vary with the flower source. Since many honey producers in Europe are small (like we are), possibly they can sell their honey with less processing.

Q. I have purchased your honey at a vegetable stand in Romeo, Michigan. It was labeled as just plain unfiltered honey so that means it was heated to 130 or 135 degrees. Do you plan to sell your raw unheated honey at these stands? I have been to your farm to pick grapes (these are wonderful) but I did not purchase the honey as I had a jar at home from Romeo at the time.

A. We do sell raw honey at these types of fruit markets in 2.5 lb containers - they are usually marked as "creamed honey".

Q. Is the raw unprocessed honey at your farm higher in cost than the slightly heated honey?

A. The raw unprocessed honey sold from our bulk tank and poured directly into a container that you bring to the farm will cost much less. (This year (2012) $3.40/lb) When we sell honey to roadside stands we must add in warming, bottling, labeling and delivery charges.


Q. I have heard that honey can be liquified in a sunny window. Is this a good idea? Any chance that the sun can damage the honey?

A. Yes, that can work, although you should make sure it does not get too hot. Remove it from the window when done. Many people re-liquify honey by putting the honey in hot water bath.
(Then it becomes identical to our honey that is carefully warmed to 130 degrees.)

Q. Do you plan on introducing other types of flowers so that you can have different honey? For example, some of the beekeepers in Europe use the flowers of the linden tree. The honey is almost green and the taste is very good. Also, the scent of the flowers is heavenly.

A. Since we are also very active in our vineyard operation we do not have the time to separate many of the different types of honey. We start taking our honey off in September and most of it is sold at our farm or roadside markets. When the vineyard closes in October we return to the beeyards and the rest of the crop is removed. I applaud the beekeepers that bottle honey from different flower sources.

Thank you for answering all of my questions. Looking forward to picking grapes this year and loading my jars with honey. I have tried many honeys in the area and I think that next to Europe's honey, yours has the best texture and taste.

Barbara in Michigan.

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