What is Pure Honey?
Do you have a jar of honey in your kitchen or pantry? A popular ingredient used in many types of cooking, honey is a staple in the kitchen. We think of it as a natural product not every jar is what you think. What is pure honey? How do you know and what type of honey should you look for on your next shopping trip?
Where does Honey Come From?
Honey is not made in a factory – even though that jar and label may be mass produced.
The story of honey honey bees make honey is a fascinating one. Collecting plant nectar from millions of blooming flowers – honey is produced.
Luckily for us, a healthy colony of honey bees can produce much more honey than the bees need to survive Winter.
Beekeepers will well-managed hives can harvest the excess honey crop and still leave the bees enough for Winter.
The honey harvest represents a lot of hard work by both the bees and the beekeepers.
Good Honey Varies in Color and Taste
How do you know if your honey is the real thing? It’s not easy. You can not identify pure honey by color. Honey colors can range from water white (clear) to very dark.
The color is determined by the type of nectar collected by the bees. Because different kinds of plant nectar are used in the creation of honey, the range of color variations can be substantial.
In general, the darker the honey, the stronger the taste and the higher the antioxidant content. Lighter colored honey tends to have a milder taste.
Buckwheat honey is among the darkest, so choose it when you want to savor a strong, distinctive honey flavor.
A light colored honey such as alfalfa is best when it acts mainly as a sweetener and other stronger flavors take the lead.
Are You Buying Pure Honey ?
If the label says “honey”, we assume that is the only ingredient inside the bottle – but that is not always the case. Read honey labels carefully and take not of the fine print.
Don’t be deceived by those cute golden bears you see at the local big box store. That beautiful golden hue that draws you in may be a “non honey” substance in disguise.
Or , you may be purchasing a sweetener that contains honey plus other things. Let’s consider the definition of honey.
Fake Honey is Big Business
Honey is one of the most adulterated foods on Earth—many companies mix it with cheaper sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup. Why would they do this?
It is an effort to increase the volume of product available for sale and boost profits.
Producing a large crop of honey is not cheap. A worker bee only makes about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey during her life.
To make a lot of honey, you need a lot of bees and everything related to beekeeping costs money.
Honey is money. Selling honey is big business because honey is expensive to produce.
If you watch the media, you will often see stories about honey that has been confiscated due to import problems. Most often honey from countries like China is involved.
Imported honey is more likely to have problems with purity than honey produced here in the US. Proper origin is always an issue with honey imports.
But, that does not mean that all honey produced and sold in the US is pure honey either.
How to Find Pure Honey
In an attempt to force full disclosure of ingredients for the consumer, the FDA has guidelines that require honey labels to list ingredients.
You want to see a label that says PURE HONEY . Say NO to labels that list “honey blend” as an ingredient. Or that have any other ingredient listed.
Regulations are being reviewed that should make the honey label easier to understand. In spite of these attempts you will still find honey that is not what it appears to be.
In the food labeling industry there is a difference between “guidelines” and “regulations”.
Buy Real Honey Local When Possible
If you want local honey, you must consider where you live. Here in upstate South Carolina, I don’t see many orange groves. Therefore, I would not expect to find any local Orange Blossom honey.. LOL
Wildflower honey and maybe some Sourwood is the most typical upstate South Carolina Honeys for the localvore.
What honey producing plants grow in your region? Do you have a local beekeeping club – members often sell a few jars of honey.
But, honey doesn’t have to be local to be good. Just be sure to read the labels closely.
Enjoy trying honey from other areas as a unique added flavor to your coffee, tea or baked goods. Hawaii has some great special honeys.
If you are using honey as a possible aid for allergies or colds be sure to buy raw honey ! Pure raw honey is good even if it was not harvested in your neighborhood!
Pure honey does have a tendency to “turn to sugar” over time. It is a normal process and not a sign of bad honey. Beside, you can easily decrystallize your honey without damaging it!
Have fun in your search for pure honey. You have many different options and varieties to try! The more honey facts you learn – the more impressed you will become with this gift from the bees.
- buy from a local beekeeper if possible
- read labels carefully – there should be no ingredient but HONEY