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Raw Honey: Good as Gold Honey

There is no legal or official definition of the term "raw" honey. However, it is generally accepted among beekeepers that honey is not raw if it has been filtered or heated above temperatures that might reasonably exist within the beehive. None of my liquid honey is ever filtered or heated above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. I do run my honey through a stainless steel sieve to remove all but the smallest beeswax particles and debris such as bee parts and slivers of wood from the honeycomb frames. Pollen is not removed.

Some are under the misconception that raw honey must contain sugar crystals or be completely crystallized to a solid. This is not true. All unfiltered honey will eventually form sugar crystals because it is a supersaturated solution. The time required for crystals to form depends upon how much glucose is in the honey, the moisture content, temperature and the number of "nucleation sites" (particles or rough surfaces) available.

The predominant source of nectar throughout central Maryland is black locust tree blossoms. Locust blossom honey is light in color and relatively low (compared to other honey) in glucose content. Kept above 60 degrees Fahrenheit in a smooth-walled container, raw locust blossom honey may take well over a year to begin crystallizing. In contrast, the nectar of dandelions, mints, asters and many other wildflowers produces honey that is relatively high in glucose and may crystallize in weeks. The presence of crystals does not make the honey good or bad, but coarse crystals may be unpalatable and unsuitable as a recipe ingredient.

To remove crystals from honey, place container in hot (not boiling) water, changing water as it cools, until crystals dissolve. Gently reliquified honey is as good as new; that is, as good as gold.

Article Contributed by:
Dave Simmons
Good As Gold Honey Bee Company
3212 Aldino Road
Churchville, MD 21028