HONEY Honey is more than Just Sweet
At the Honeybee Centre we love talking honey,
pollination, education, events, and everything in beetween.
What is Honey?
Mature honeybees collect nectar from plant blossoms. Nectar is 80 to 95 percent water and 5 to 20 percent sucrose (table sugar). As the bee transports the nectar back to the hive, a protein enzyme in her honey stomach, called invertase, breaks the sucrose down into the two simple sugars, fructose and glucose.
Young bees remove water from the sugar solution using two methods. They pass the nectar from bee to bee and ‘drink’ the water out of the nectar by absorbing it through their stomach wall. They also create heat and air flow in the hive by vibrating their wings and flight muscles, thus evaporating water out of the nectar which has been stored in open cells.
When most of the sucrose has been converted to fructose and glucose AND enough water has been dehydrated out of the mixture to bring it approximately 17.8% water content, we have a delicious sticky mixture, called honey!
After honey is made, bees cap it with beeswax to maintain the low moisture content.
Many years ago, beekeepers crushed honeycomb to get liquid honey! That method of honey processing produces less honey for the beekeeper as it forces bees to spend time and resources building replacement comb rather than making more honey. Honeybees consume 7 kilograms of honey to produce 1 kilogram of beeswax. The advent of the centrifugal extractor, allowed beekeepers to ‘scratch’ or ‘slice’ off a thin layer of wax from the surface of the comb and spin the honey out using centrifugal force. The integrity of the comb is maintained and the bees have far less work to do to repair any cracks or shallow spots in the comb.
what is the best type of honey?
Untouched by human hands. Contains all the goodness that nature has put into the honey. Bit awkward to chew.
Extracted and cleaned using a settling tank at room temperature. Contains virtually all the goodness that nature put into the honey. Will granulate quickly and may separate in the jar with liquid fructose on top and granular glucose on the bottom.
Liquid Honey + Filtered With Minimal Heat
Extracted and cleaned using a 50 micron filter. Honey is heated to the same temperature inside a hive on a hot day. Contains a great deal of the goodness that nature put into the honey. Will granulate in two to six months, depending on the type of flowers the bees visited to gather the honey.
Creamed honey is made from pure liquid honey through a controlled crystallization process to produce very fine uniform crystals, thus resulting in a creamy smooth consistency. Creamed honey has nothing added and has the same nutritional value as its liquid counterpart.
Liquid Pasteurized Honey
Extracted and cleaned using flash heating to a high temperature, super filtered through a 1 to 5 micron filter, and quickly cooled. Looses much of the goodness that nature provided, but will last over 9 months on the store shelf without granulating.
Nutritional Value of Honey
Average Composition of Honey
Honey is primarily fructose (38%), glucose (31%), water (17%), maltose (7%), and small amounts of trisaccharides, other higher carbohydrates, sucrose, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.
Vitamins – trace amounts
Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K
Minerals – trace amounts
Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium. Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc
Antioxidants – enzymatic and non-enzymatic
Catalase, ascorbic acid, flavonoids
standard nutritional information
(Per 20g serving)
|FAT / LIPIDES||0G||0%|
|CARBOHYDRATES / GLUCIDES||17G||6%|
Crystallization is the formation of monohydrate glucose crystals from a super-saturated sugar solution (ie. honey).
tHE RATE OF CRYSTALLIZATION INCREASES WITH:
- Lower water content
- Higher glucose content
- Presence of solid particles (ie. pollen grains & honey crystals)
- Temperature close to 14 C (Temperatures above 28 C and below 5 C result in very slow crystallization)
Honey is a very robust food product, and if stored properly, will last years if not decades. In fact, honey has been found perfectly preserved in tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt.
The quality of honey may be damaged by the following factors:
Ideally the moisture content of honey should be less than 17.8%. If the moisture content is too high, say greater than 20%, the honey may ferment due to yeasts in the honey. Since honey is hygroscopic, if it is not in a sealed container, it will attract moisture from the air.
Honey loses many of its’ health benefits with the combination of heat and time. The following is a rule of thumb storage time vs temperature to retain most of its’ health benefits:
- 40 C for 30 days
- 30 C for 6 months
- 20 C for 4 years
- 10 C for 35 years
Prolonged Exposure to Sunlight
Honey loses many of its’ health benefits with prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Noxious elements in its environment
Honey is hygroscopic and takes on odours from its environment. It is also acidic, so it can dissolve metal if stored in metal containers.
honey storage guidelines
- STORE HONEY IN A SEALED NON-METALLIC CONTAINER.
- FOR NORMAL USE, STORE THE CONTAINER IN A CUPBOARD (AWAY FROM DIRECT SUNLIGHT) AT ROOM TEMPERATURE (21 C).
- FOR PROLONGED STORAGE OF HONEY (> 4 YEARS), STORE AT REFRIDGERATOR TERMPATURE (4 C).
hONEY + iNFANTS
The bacterium, Clostridium botulinum is very common in nature and any raw food, including honey, may contain Clostridium botulinum spores.
A fully developed digestive system will protect a person against ingested C. botulinum. However, the digestive system of an infant under the age of 12 months is not fully developed, and thus cannot deal with with many kinds of antigens, including C. botulinum. The toxins produced by C. botulinum are extremely dangerous and present a very serious condition for infants.
It is extremely rare to find C. botulinum in honey, but there have been a hand full of documented cases over the last 40 years. In these cases it is thought that the bacteria came in contact with the honey somewhere during honey processing.
got unanswered questions? we’d love to chat about them