Raw Unfiltered Pure Honey – Benefits and Tips
The best honey, in my opinion, is raw unfiltered pure honey. How do you know if it’s pure? Read the label. Check the ingredients list. There better not be a drop of corn syrup in it (for example).
Honey is a natural source of sugar, made by bees using nectar from flowers. It has been a staple ingredient for thousands of years for its benefits as both a food and a medicine. It has approximately the same relative sweetness as that of granulated sugar.
First, a caution in case you didn’t know… It is advisable NOT to feed honey to infants below one year of age. They have not built up adequate immune system tolerance yet (more on that below).
Pure Honey versus Processed
Most honey in grocery stores has been processed in one way or another – having removed the pollen itself and/or ‘watered down’ with other ingredients – but still labeled “honey.” Without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey actually came from legitimate and safe sources.
Much store-bought honey will have other ingredients added. Examples include glucose, dextrose, molasses, corn syrup, starches, and other substances. Most honey at the grocery store is not pure raw honey and has been altered in some way.
With that said, you often can find ‘real’ pure honey. You just need to look at ingredients /labels. One clue is that it will cost more $.
You might consider looking for pure & natural local honey (to support your local community). Check your local farmers market for a beekeeper selling raw honey. For example, our tiny town has a small ‘corner store’. They always have some jars of raw pure honey from a local beekeeper.
Natural honey will vary in taste depending on the local region, season, and what the bees are feeding on (the variety of flowers, etc..).
Raw honey may change its consistency over time, sometimes crystallizing. Don’t worry though – the honey is still ‘good’. Warm it up and the crystals will dissolve (place the container in a pan of very warm water for awhile… details below).
Here’s one very popular pure honey, sourced from Arizona:
Pure Raw Unfiltered
or from Florida
Buzzn Bee Raw & Unfiltered – Bees from Orange Blossom Groves
How To Store Pure Honey
Microorganisms would have an exceedingly difficult time growing in honey. Note that honey ‘never spoils’ because it inhibits the growth of bacteria (and fungi and viruses).
It can be stored safely at room temperature.
The water content of honey is normally about 18%. If it reaches 25% then yeast spores that are in honey will activate the fermentation process. This doesn’t make the honey go bad, however it will change the flavor as it ferments. This is why it is important to keep your raw honey covered. To prevent moisture from the air diluting the honey and increasing the overall water content percentage.
Honey should always be stored in a closed container with a tight lid to keep humidity and moisture out.
Note: Always use a dry utensil when scooping honey out of it’s container to avoid adding moisture.
Shelf Life Of Pure Honey
It will essentially store forever under the right conditions. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and away from heat sources.
How-to Reconstitute Crystallized Honey
Place the crystalized container of honey into a tall enough pot to nearly cover the honey container with water. Slowly heat the water, but don’t let the water get above 160-F so as not to accidently pasteurize. I would use a meat thermometer into the water and keep the temperature around 120-F. Ideally the container should not sit on the bottom of pan (direct heat will be hotter at the bottom) — you might use a pressure canner stacking tray for this.
If you use a microwave oven, it will destroy the ‘good stuff’ in the honey.
Pure Raw Honey Nutrition
It contains roughly 80% natural sugars (glucose & fructose), about 18% water, and 2% vitamins, minerals, pollen, and proteins.
Vitamins in honey include riboflavin, B6, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and a variety of amino acids.
It is a strong antioxidant, specifically one named Pinocembrin.
Honey has a lower glycemic index than other sugars and is more slowly absorbed preventing spikes in insulin levels. But lets face it, it’s still sugar – albeit natural.
Antimicrobial Benefits of Honey
Non-pasteurized for medicinal purposes/benefits – with the enzymes still intact.
Honey draws fluid out of the cells of most germs like bacteria and fungi (osmotic effect). So these germs can’t grow in honey.
The exception is the dormant endospores of Clostridium botolinum. Therefore children under the age of 1 should not be given honey because their immune systems haven’t evolved enough.
Since nothing can grow in honey due to it’s antibacterial and antiviral properties, it is good to use on wounds. In fact the ancient Romans discovered this and widely used honey to treat troop wounds.
Because honey is so thick (viscous), when applied to a wound it has a strong pull to carry debris, dirt, bacteria, etc. away from the wound into the dressing.
Note: It’s best to apply the honey directly to the dressing and then apply to the wound.
Honey also has an attractive effect upon water. Also, when honey combines with water it will steadily produce hydrogen peroxide. This has a strong antiseptic effect promoting wound healing.
You might use honey for an upset stomach. Combine with ginger and lemon juice to treat nausea and vomiting or gastric distress of any kind, including ulcers.
Will Eating Local Raw Honey Help With Allergies?
Some say yes, some say no. It is apparently possible that consuming local honey may help you build up an extent of tolerance to allergies. If you have had success with this, let us know in the comments below…
Manuka Honey Superfood
From New Zealand or Australia, the Manuka flower (of the Manuka or ‘Tea’ tree) is the sole source for honeybees producing Manuka honey.
It is the thickest honey in the world (highest viscosity) and therefore has a very strong antibacterial effect. The following is said to be a “golden superfood, straight from New Zealand”. It’s quite expensive, but it’s also incredibly popular.
Raw Premium Manuka Honey
My wife is an avid reader of your blog and shares your musings with me daily. As a beekeeper, I wanted to add my thoughts on a few of your comments above.
— 1. Honey is rarely monitored by the FDA and there is a ton of fraud going on out there, honey imported from other countries, especially. My advice is NEVER buy honey from a grocery store, other than your local “Mom and Pop’s store on 1st and Main”. The commercial honey bought and sold everywhere and in every chain grocery store is pasteurized at extreme temperatures to remove the visual impurities that make honey less appealing to the eye. Those “impurities” are also the valuable sources of nutrition that makes honey a healthy source of sugar, e.g., nectar. Raw and/or unfiltered honey is the key to honey labeling one should pay attention too. Any honey that has been processed for commercial sales, cannot use the terms raw or unfiltered.
— 2. You mention to de-crystalize or reconstitute honey to heat it at 160 F. That sir, is the very temperature commercial processing uses to filter and remove the visual impurities from honey. Honey will actually will begin to degrade the sensitive bee derived enzymes in honey above 100 F. Anything above 120 F will completely destroy the beneficial enzymes. One can successfully de-crystalize honey at 110 F and 90% of the valuable enzymes will remain in tact. The longer one keeps honey at lower temperatures, the better.
Brad, I did not suggest heating to 160 F. Here is a quote from the article above…
“Slowly heat the water, but don’t let the water get above 160-F so as not to accidently pasteurize.” I go on to say, “I would use a meat thermometer into the water and keep the temperature around 120-F. Ideally the container should not sit on the bottom of pan (direct heat will be hotter at the bottom) — you might use a pressure canner stacking tray for this.”
However thank you for suggesting 100 F as a max temperature! And thanks for you input as a beekeeper!
From my older bee keeping days I learned that crystalized honey has had moisture in it.
Agree on the chain store honey. Can come from Vietnam, Brazil and other countries. Honey has become susceptible to the economy and weather also.
Beekeeping in the south is no more challenging than anywhere else. Here’s a link to Kamon Reynolds, his YouTube’s teach you everything you need to know about southern beekeeping.
Cypress is good for hives as well.
Bee survival rates nationwide are about the same. Its hard to keep these little creatures alive. Im in Oregon and 40% loss is typical. But the success one has when things are done well, is worth it.
Just pulled a 1/2 gallon Mason Jar of honey out to reconstitute it (Crystallized).
I use a Aspaagus Pot for this.
It’s about 2 inches taller that the Jar and probably 1 inch all around.
ALWAYS use the wire cage for the process, this will keep the Jar off the bottom of the pot about 3/8 inch.
I also slide a cooking thermometer in to keep track of the water temp. I NEVER go above 115-F and make DANG sure the Honey Temp never goes above 105.
OK, so it takes almost an entire day for this process….. better than destroying a full 1/2 gallon of GREAT Local Honey.
BTW, the Jar I just did was 11 years old, and cost around $1.75 per pound, I supply the Ball Mason Jars. Just priced JUNK Honey at Sam’s Club for right at $23 per 5 pounds….
Do the Math… $4.60.
One last little thing….. Check out Honey Fermented Garlic using Honey…. Good for ya indeed.
We keep our honey in a cool room, and even the honey that doesn’t crystallize is so thick as to be almost solid. I’ve solved that by keeping the jar we’re currently using on a metal rack near our woodstove. It doesn’t really heat it much, but keeps it warm enough to be somewhat liquid and easier to use.
I used to keep bees but it got too hard to keep them alive. An interesting thing to know is due to the atomic bomb testing in the 50’s the SE got a fair amount of fall out. To this day honey from most of the SE has enough cesium in it to be detectable with a meter. It stands out from all other honey in the US for this reason. Not supposed to be at a dangerous level. Maybe market it as “natural glowing honey” : )
We eat local honey. My wife has been an advocate of eating local honey due to her allergies. She swears that eating honey from bees in the same locale will help her with said allergies.
I also like pure Maple syrup from mom and pop farms in New Hampshire. I got a wild hair one day (perhaps after one or two bourbons) and ordered four one gallon glass jugs of Maple Syrup. That’s a heck of a lot of pancakes in my future. I need to figure out other uses for it. Any suggestions?
Jade man. I use it to make ice cream. Maple syrup, milk, and cream.
Excellent idea. Thank you Sal.
I enjoy it on cornbread, especially when it is still warm from baking.
Oh yea, excellent!
Jade Man, check out Sue at her website (and one of my favorites) theviewfromgreatisland.com. Search ‘maple syrup’ on her blog. She has some great recipes.
She has a maple syrup corn bread. Sounds great.
– Our local honey tends toward Mesquite honey, one of the sweetest honeys. I like to keep a minimum of a quart around for daily use. That said, honey is one of the Basic Four in a nice LDS lady’s book ‘Survival four and forty more’ (Wheat, Dry Milk, honey and salt)
– Papa S.
My daughters hubby is a beekeeper. They grow flowers for them and sell honey, eggs, flowers, and some veggies at the farmers market. It’s delicious and we get a family discount of a gallon for $80.00, which we all gladly pay. They have lots of chickens and some really cute fuzzy black or white ones.
I have raised bees for many years, mostly for pollinating my gardens. It is the most difficult homesteading project I’ve ever done, until I learned just to leave them alone. They do very well without me bothering them all the time. I only check them a few times a year. Once in spring to make sure all is well and there is new brood, meaning a laying queen. If no brood and dwindling numbers I re-queen the hive. In summer I check for overcrowding and the condition of the hives; adding honey supers. I’ll add a second super if necessary, and it almost always is. Third, if I take any honey that year I do it just after the peak of the season right around Labor Day. I also do a good check of the hives for winter, plugging any holes they created in the hive and reducing the entrance for winter. One thing I must do to deter hive beetles is sprinkle DE around both sides and the back of the hive ONLY (never the front), and on the stand itself BUT NOT THE FRONT (after rains too). Don’t want the bees touching it. And I sprinkle cinnamon on the top of the inner cover (along the edges) and the stand to deter ants. Works very well.
As a very young child I had Crupe. My mother learned from other senior family members that a pinch of Alum and Honey in a teaspoon breaks down the congestion in my lungs and I could breeth normally. I am a senior citizen today, so I guess it worked ;)
I came to my present state from California with knowledge about honeybees and pollinating insects. When neighbors built their houses around us and put in pristine gardens, they also layed on and sprayed the chemicals to green up their lawns, allow their plants to blossom and keep the pests away. Once in a while, a bee swarm will come to our yard and take a resting spot on one of our trees. We call the Willamette Valley Bee Keepers Hotline for a wayward swarm and a volunteer comes by with a vacant bee box to take them away to establish a new hive in a different location.
My yard is a relatively chemical free zone within Suburbia. I do not even use saw gas or gasoline in my power tools and my wasp traps are passive. Our use of chemicals to kill insects is minimal and I spend a lot of my time pruning branches, dead-heading old blossoms and cutting grass. We take the occasional bee swarm in our yard as a compliment and call our local bee keeper to remove the swarm. Our yard looks a lot more messy than surrounding properties but it is a relatively chemical free zone within this area of Suburbistan, OR. Bees are welcome in my yard and honey is a by-product that we enjoy in my home.
I too buy local honey. I have honey that is about 15-17 years old. I bought them in glass jars. For a number of years I kept buying more and more as I was afraid that the bee keeper would eventually change over to plastic jars. Stored is glass it should last indefinitely. I remember reading that honey was found in some ancient tombs and the honey was still good.
I found a local beekeeper at our farmer’s market this past spring. The honey he produces is so much more tasty than store bought honey. He set up hives in many backyards of homeowners, so his bees are visiting urban trees and flowers. He claims that store bought honey is mostly made from bees that visit canola fields, and that combined with the pasteurization process is why the store bought honey does not taste as good.