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What is Raw Honey ?

By January 7, 2023October 5th, 2023Honey Blog

Nowadays healthy lifestyle is a trending topic, with the vast majority of people aiming to live healthier, replacing old-school strict diets with a well-balanced, healthy eating lifestyle. When transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, you’d probably immediately think of ways to reduce sugar in your diet.

A recent study suggests that the excess calories from sugars are involved in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Perhaps, honey is the best alternative to sugar, not just to sweeten your brew but to offer you a lot more.

study from Nutrition Reviews discovered that enhancing a healthy diet with a couple of spoons of honey a day may contribute to lowering inflammation and improving cholesterol levels. Both major factors in cardio-metabolic health.

Unlike refined sugar, Raw Honey is a complex composition which includes proteins, organic acid, other bioactive compounds, vitamins, and antioxidants. Perhaps one of the most powerful and beneficial foods that nature has given us.

Raw Honey not only tastes delicious but can also strengthen our immune system as a part of a healthy lifestyle. As early as 350 BC, the greek physician Hippocrates known as the “father of medicine”, said: “Our food should be our medicine and medicine be our food”.

However, the honey you are buying from the shop might be causing you more harm than good. With so many options available online and in supermarkets, it is easy to confuse and not pay attention to what we are purchasing. So let’s look into what exactly is raw honey.

What is raw Honey?

Raw honey is that thick delicious goodness that comes from the beehive unprocessed – not being exposed at pasteurisation and filtration, apart of removing beeswax and larger impurities such as dead bees.

When honey is extracted from the beehive, it requires minimal filtration to remove larger impurities such as beeswax and dead bees. Many people seek unfiltered honey, but it is doubtful that if a jar full of beeswax, dead bees and other impurities reaches their table they will actually consume it. (I have seen honey advertised as unfiltered, but I am yet to see a jar of unfiltered honey). Therefore the so-called coarse filtration is necessary and does not make the honey any less beneficial, but simply removes impurities.

Ok, this is Raw Honey. Now, what is the alternative to Raw Honey? The alternative to raw honey is pasteurised, honey.

What is pasteurised honey?

This is a high-tech process during which the Honey is heated at a high temperature of more than 160F (70°C). This process is normally done for milk and other dairy products to kill bacteria and other harmful organisms.

However, because of its low moisture content and high acidity, these bacteria and other harmful microorganisms cannot live or reproduce in Honey.

Once heated at high temperature, the Honey is cooled down and forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove further any impurities, bubbles, bee pollen and other goods presented in Honey.

Why is Honey Pasteurised?

There are two main reasons why honey is pasteurised.

Honey is pasteurised to remove the natural process of crystallisation. Furthermore, the pasteurisation gives the honey a smooth golden look, making it more attractive for many buyers and extending the so-called “shelf life”.

Crystallised honey is rarely seen in shops. Perhaps, this is the reason why a lot of people consider crystallised honey to be spoiled or that there is sugar added to it. In fact, crystallisation is a natural process in raw honey that indicates rawness and quality.

Different varieties take various lengths of time to crystallise. Some of the fastest types of honey to crystallise are Sunflower and Rapeseed, while the slowest to crystallise are Acacia and Lavender.

The crystallisation process also depends on storing conditions. Temperature, relative humidity and the type of packaging could also make a difference in the speed of the crystallisation process.

For example, lower temperatures speed up the process whilst higher delays the crystallisation. Honey is best stored at room temperature.

Large Batches Commercial Honey

Another reason honey is pasteurised is a particular common practice with large batches commercial honey. To increase quantity and reduce cost, often honey with different origins and quality is mixed.

The current requirement for declaring the origin of honey allows the label to read various blends, for example: “ Blend of EU Honeys” (mix of honey from more than one county member of EU) or “Blend of Non-EU Honeys” (Mix of honey from more than one country outside EU) or quite often “Blend of EU and Non-EU Honey”. (Meaning that honey from EU is blended with honey from outside EU, which could be anywhere in the world – often China ).

This allows honey from countries with various production standards and control to be mixed together. Therefore, converting these different types of honey into one single batch requires pasteurisation.

In simple words after mixing, high-temperature heating and ultrafiltration the end result will be highly processed honey with doubtfully any natural taste and benefits.

And you think this is bad enough, to make the matter even worst such a commercial honey may be cut with cheap corn or fructose syrup to enhance profit margins.

Often after customers purchase Real Raw Honey they email us positively surprised at how much different the honey tastes, full of flavour and aroma compared to the pasteurised and mixed honey often found on the market.

In conclusion, if you want to ensure you are consuming the real superfood called “Honey” you need to ensure the honey you purchase is Raw (Not Pasteurised) and single origin (Not Blended).