Following on from her post about Bees, Chelsea returns to tell us all about honey…
So we know we need bees to keep our food production going, but what other awesome thing do bees provide us with?
Honey, of course.
I was lucky enough to grow up with grandparents and an uncle who had bee hives.
I learnt early on that it is important never to be scared around bees and how awesome fresh honeycomb is!
Until I left home, I had never eaten store bought honey. I was astonished that my store bought honey not only tasted VERY different but it also never crystallised.
Honey straight from a hive crystallises or goes hard. This is normal. This is ok. You can re soften it by leaving it in sun, putting jar it in hot water or melting it. Some people even enjoy crystallised honey, it’s not as messy too!
The speed with which honey crystallises is dependant on the flowers the bees frequented.
Very simply, glucose and fructose are the sugars which give honey its “sweetness”. Glucose is the one that influences crystallization. The more glucose in the honey, the sooner your honey will crystallize.
What happens: There is water in all honey (less than 18%). The water binds to the sugars. But water can separate from glucose. When glucose loses water it becomes a crystal. Once a crystal forms, it will continue to build more crystals until the entire container is crystallized. Things like pollen, propolis or wax will get trapped in the crystals.
The reason store bought honey doesn’t crystallise is due to a few factors.
Store bought honey is usually a combination of honeys from all different suppliers from all different regions, therefore all different flowers were used in the making of the money. Plus, the honey is also put through a refining process which some believe slightly changes the structure of the honey.
These two reasons are the main reasons why store bought honey tastes different.
My grandfather’s raw honey always tastes different depending on what is in flower at the time. When the Leptospermums, tea trees, are in flower, a dark full body honey is produced. When the iron barks are in flower, a light coloured, lightly flavoured honey is produced.
When you buy store bought honey it is a combination of honeys mixed to give you the same colour and consistency every time. This, coupled with the refining process, will always give your honey, to me, a funny taste.
As with most foods, it is always better to buy and eat unprocessed food.
Raw honey is always, in my opinion, going to be better for you. In saying that, make sure you research where your raw honey is coming from. Don’t just buy it from a stranger because they say it is raw and/or organic. Do your research.
Many markets are not regulated by government guidelines like primary producers or retailers.
Just like you wouldn’t buy your fruit and vegetables from a stranger claiming they are unsprayed or a plant seller claiming the plants come from a fire ant free zone. Don’t buy your honey from strangers at markets.
Find certified raw honey sellers. Contact the Australian honey bee association. Some markets do meet government guidelines and some sellers at the markets do have certification.
Just realise that while raw honey may be better for you, not knowing the raw honeys background may actually be worse than store bought honey.
Chelsea van Rijn has over 15 years experience in horticulture and is considered an all round expert. Her advice is sought after, especially on her Facebook page’s “Ask it Wednesday”.
She writes a popular newspaper column, a blog and magazine articles, as well as numerous papers across Queensland in print and online.
She is an award winner, winning Queensland’s “ Heather Ramsey Young Leader Award” twice and Trevallan Lifestyle Centre, her family’s business, winning “Queensland Best Small Garden Centre in 2010”.
She is also addicted to aromatherapy, and in 2012 won Perfect Potion’s “Scared Space”. Chelsea’s winning essential oil blend is now stocked worldwide through Perfect Potion and in her shop – Trevallan Lifestyle Centre.
Here are some of the links where you can find Chelsea and her work.