Frequently Asked Questions
Honey is, at the same time, both very complex and very simple. Below, I have tried to provide answers to many of the questions I hear most often. Much of the information below is drawn from the Blue Ridge Honey Company in northeastern Georgia. If you are in that area, be sure to check them out. They offer several honeys like Tupelo and Sourwood that are unique to that part of the country and are definitely unique and worth a try!
Why does honey granulate? Has it gone bad?
Honey that has granulated or crystalized hasn't gone bad. All honey will eventually crystalize, some quite fast and some very slow depending on the type and amount of different sugars present. To re-liquify, simply warm the jar in a pan of hot, but not boiling water.
Why do different honey varieties have different colors and flavors?
No two nectar sources have the same chemistry. They have different combinations of sugars, minerals and enzymes. Very dark honeys like buckwheat have higher mineral content. This gives them their color and is also considered desirable by health food experts. Lighter honey is lower in minerals and has a milder taste.
Is eating honey good for my allergies?
Many people report that raw, local honey helps relieve allergy symptoms. There is no widely accepted scientific evidence for this but it seems to be effective for many people. Honey contains small amount of pollen which can act like an immunization so your body reacts less strongly when those pollen-bearing plants bloom. If you are allergic to dust or mold, honey is unlikely to help you. If you are allergic to pollen, however, especially from be pollinated plants, it may be worth a try. Please let us know what kind of results you get!
What is raw honey?
Raw honey is honey that has not been pasteurized or finely filtered. All of our honey is raw honey.
Why or why not pasteurize honey?
Honey contains yeasts. These yeasts are very different from the yeasts used in breads, vinegar or alcoholic beverages. They will cause fermentation in honey with a moisture content over 18.6%. These yeasts can be killed by heating honey to 160F for a short time. Heating honey to a high temperature will also cause a delay in the crystalization process by dissolving the small sugar crystals present in raw honey, which begin the crystalization process. Heating honey also thins it so it can be finely filtered.
Honey will deteriorate when exposed to heat. The higher the heat, the faster and greater the effect. For example, honey has numerous enzymes. Most of these enzymes remain stable under 100F but have decreased activity when exposed to temperatures over 120F. For instance, the enzyme diatase, which is common in honey, shows a 50% reduction in activity after 15 days at 122F. Most enzymes in honey are almost completely destroyed when exposed to temperatures above 160F for even a short period. These enzymes are also destroyed when honey is liquified in a microwave.
Do you filter your honey?
We coarse filter our honey to remove large debris, but do not fine filter our honey.
Why or why not filter honey?
Honey is commonly filtered to remove sugar crystals, air bubbles, particles of beeswax, pollen and other hive debris that may be present. Fine filtering of honey makes the honey bright and clear and removes anything that could act as a platform for sugar crystals to build upon and therefore facilitate the granulation process. Simply put, filtering give the honey a longer shelf-life without crystalization and a better appearance for purchase appeal.
The fine filtering process removes much of what makes raw honey a natural and desirable food. This would include particles of pollen, beeswax and propolis.
How should honey be stored?
Honey should be stored in glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic containers. It has been shown that honey will absorb particles from copper, tin, iron, aluminum, galvanized metal and some plastics. If the honey is to be used in a normal amount of time, room temperature is okay. If it is to be kept for some time, a dark place like a cupboard is better because honey deteriorates when exposed to light for extended periods. For customers that buy large amounts of honey and want to store some of it for an extended period of time but want it to remain as good as possible, we suggest putting it in the freezer. If kept in the freezer, it will not granulate or deteriorate. The optimum temperature for granulation is 57F. As temperatures increase or decrease from this point, the tendency lessens. Honey will not granulate either at or below 30F or at or above 95F. However, honey stored for long periods at 95F or above will deteriorate.
Is your honey graded?
Our honey is not graded and could not pass for U.S. Grade A Fancy because of the particle content. All honey labeled U.S. Grade A Fancy is honey processed and much of it is imported.