Monday, 17 September 2012

Honey, Honey, Honey

pure honey bohol bee farm
Pure Honey gathered by Cultured Bees sold at the Bohol Bee Farm

Before you go ballistic and scream at me telling me honey isn't consumed by vegans, let me give everyone a full disclosure:  I never said I was vegan.

I'm actually an ovo-lacto vegetarian and I happen to love honey.  On the ethical side of this discussion, however, I must say I'm particular about where the honey comes from and whether or not bees had to die.

You see, I only buy honey if I know bees were not killed in order for it to be collected from their hive--that means only cultured honey harvested by bee keepers who house honey bees in wooden boxes and methodically extract the golden juice of the gods without having to commit mass murder.  I believe the consumption of honey is okay as long as bees don't get slaughtered for it.

Anyway, I'm done justifying myself.  I like honey.  Deal with it!  Now, let's move on.

I'll be answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) here so do feel free to email me if you have additional questions.

Will my honey ever go bad? 

No.  Pure honey will NEVER EVER spoil as long as you keep it pure and secure.  It is the only food item in the world that will never go bad.  Sealed jars of honey have been found in a number of tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs and they were all found to be edible even after several millennia. 
Honey will only spoil if you do something to make it impure such as add things to it like lots of sugar or water.  It may also ferment with prolonged exposure to humidity.  I'm talking about an extremely long exposure to extreme humidity so no worries about leaving the jar open if you're in a tropical country. 
Another way to ruin honey is by dropping considerably large amounts of food items that have high microbial content into its container.  Things like mouldy cheese and milk are to be kept away from honey.  Then again, the process of fermentation would be inexplicably long so the honey will have been eaten before the impurities you brought upon it will cause it to ferment.

Is it true that honey has medicinal properties?

Yes.  Honey has antiseptic properties, particularly antibacterial and antiviral.  It can be used as a topical treatment for wounds and cuts.  It may also be taken orally as treatment for sore throat and coughs.

Should honey be heated before bottling to kill off microbes and such?

No.  Pure unheated honey contains propolis, pollen, antioxidants and enzymes that have positive physical benefits when taken in.  However, they may die with considerable heat so the honey is best kept away from your cooking devices. 
Honey is not meant to be heated at all!  Again, pure honey has anti-microbial stuff so why would you need to heat it?  You'd be wasting your time and risking to render its good organisms useless.  It's only supposed to be filtered.

What kind of vegetarians eat honey?

There are a number of vegetarians that eat honey.
Ovo-lacto vegetarianism may include the consumption of honey. 
Kosher or Jewish Vegetarianism permits honey. 
Sattvic or Yogic Vegetarianism
Sufi or Mystical Islamic Vegetarianism,
Hindu Vegetarianism, and 
Buddhist Vegetarianism all permit the consumption of honey provided that no bees were harmed in the process of collecting them.

Why does honey crystallise?

Honey naturally crystallises in certain conditions.  The idea that only impure honey crystallises is completely bogus so it would do you well to remove it from your noggin this instant.  Crystallisation is a natural state that most honeys are quickly reduced to after they are removed from the honeycombs of the hives.  In fact, honey may even crystallise while still in the honeycombs if temperature drops low and the bees are not standing over it to provide heat.

Here are the major factors that cause your honey to crystallise or speed up the process: 
1. Glucose is a major catalyst in its crystallisation.  Honey is composed of a number of sugars including fructose, maltose, sucrose and glucose.  Most of the rest of it is water.  Depending on what flowers the bees landed on to collect nectar from, there may be a higher concentration of one particular sugar over the others.  The higher the glucose content, the faster your honey will crystallise especially at low temperatures. 
2. If you store your honey in a plastic container, it will crystallise faster than if you put it in something made of glass because the former is significantly more porous than the latter.  Thus, air could more easily permeate. 
3. If your honey was not thoroughly filtered before storage, it will most likely contain pieces of pollen, propolis and beeswax that are larger compared to the bits left after filtration.  They will likely be large enough to catalyse crystallisation.
4. If you store your honey in a fridge or outside your house when it's snowing, it will crystallise more rapidly than if stored in tropical/summer room temperature.  When exposed to temperatures around 20-10°C (68-50°F), it will crystallise much faster than, say, 21-35°C.  The latter range is ideal if you don't want granulated honey.

How do I liquefy honey once it has crystallised?

Expose it to a warm temperature not higher than 37°C (100°F).  If it goes beyond that, its antioxidants and enzymes are at risk of getting killed and it will be nothing more than a bottle of sweet gunk.  We consume honey for its health benefits not merely because it tastes good so please keep this tip. 
Ideally, you could keep the honey close to your body (like under your pits or in the depths of your underpants).  You could also simply put it by the window on a sunny day--removing it periodically so it doesn't get too hot.  I wouldn't advise any other method. 
The catch here, however, is that once your honey has already crystallised and you've managed to liquefy it, it will relapse once its temperature normalises and crystallise again.  That's just how nature works so deal with it!  I personally don't mind if my honey crystallises.  In fact, I sometimes do it on purpose.

How can I tell pure honey from impure/diluted honey?

A lot of people tend to blank out when talking about how to tell whether their bottle of honey is pure or not.  There are a number of ways to determine if honey is pure.  I'll be giving you three methods in this article.

1. Drop a teaspoon of honey into a glass of cool (or room temperature) water.  Never use warm or hot water. 
If the honey disintegrates and dissolves immediately, it is IMPURE. 

If it stays intact and forms a lump that settles at the bottom, it is PURE. 

2. Dip a piece of cotton (or candle wick) onto some honey and try to light it. 
If it does not burn properly, it means water content is high, meaning it is IMPURE. 
If it burns for more than 3 seconds, it means it is PURE. 

3. Put a single drop of honey on your thumbnail. 
If it spreads around or spills right away, it is IMPURE. 
If it stays intact on your thumbnail even if you move a little, it is PURE.

Here's a video of me testing honey purity:

I am in no way associated with the proprietors of the Bohol Bee Farm.


  1. True line "Pure honey will NEVER EVER spoil" But you have to keep it pure and secure place. You can use honey storage system for secure it.

    1. Yep. "Pure" and "secure" are our magic words. :) Cheers!

  2. why mine half pure half impure omg tsk

  3. Hello Ludwig,

    Can I have your email ID to send you email. I checked your webpage but could not find it. This is regarding to use your video for educational purpose. If you give me your emial ID I can send you a formal letter.

    Thanks in advance

  4. Thank for good comments please take my email

  5. Great post! I never really thought about it but the best posts are always "Do" posts.
    Thanks for the ideas!:)

  6. Thanks for a really helpful informative video. Absolutely great.


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