Raw organic honey is the best honey to buy. Choose this honey because it is unprocessed and therefore, maintains all the nutritional ingredients of honey in it.
Processing involves pasteurization, heating, and filtering of the raw honey, which takes away its natural nutritional ingredients.
Organic honey is honey obtained from uncultivated land or land that grows plants by following strict guidelines of organic farming. Sites for such farms or apiaries have to be away from industrial pollution, urban areas, motorways, etc. Producers of organic honey have to follow strict guidelines and are monitored regularly by governing bodies.
Organic honey is, therefore, not polluted by the insecticides and the antibiotics, which are otherwise used to spray the plants.
Manuka Honey originates from New Zealand and is believed to be very potent in its healing properties. It is derived by the bees from feeding on the manuka bushes.
Tips to choose which honey to buy
Honey has great health benefits and to get the most of these, follow these tips to choose your honey.
1. Low Water Content.
Honey is hygroscopic and draws moisture from the atmosphere. Honey produced in high humidity areas is therefore likely to have higher water content.
Ideally, the water content of raw honey can be as low as about 14%. It contains wild yeasts, which are rich in sugar content. Being hygroscopic in nature, honey draws water from the yeasts, making the yeasts dormant In this dormant stage, the yeasts do not ferment.
Higher content of water in honey, say about 19% or more, will not draw water from the yeasts, which therefore start fermenting on the store shelves. The water content can be measured by a refractometer.
Alternatively, you turn the bottle of honey upside down. If the water content is high, the bubbles of air will rise faster. You could do this by comparing with another similar bottle.
2. Color of Honey
The color of honey varies from light yellow to amber to a dark color neighboring on almost black. This is because honey varieties vary according to the flowering fields and countries.
The natural dark-colored honey is associated with more nutritional value, higher mineral content and a better flavor.
3. Organic Honey
Look for the certification or logo on the label of the honey bottle issued by the authorized body of the respective country – certifying that it is organic.
4) Hydroxymethyfurfural. (HMF) content
HMF is a bye product that is formed when fructose in honey breaks down either due to long periods of storage or due to excessive heating during processing. Pure honey, when sold in bulk, has to have an HMF of 10 to 15 mg/kg.
After processing, a level of 40mg/kg is reached to give it reasonable shelf life. In hotter climates, a higher HMF level (up to 100 HMF) may be necessary. Higher HMF content of your honey will tell you three things:
- That fructose has broken down due to longer unnecessary shelf life.
- Heating during the processing has been more leading to loss of more nutrients.
- That there is adulteration with man-made inverted sugars like sugar and sucrose and corn syrup.
5) Crystallized Honey
Crystallized honey does not necessarily mean that it is adulterated with sugar water. Pure honey is highly saturated with sugar and it is normal for it to crystallize especially in temperate climates.
Testing for Purity of Honey
Do these simple tests to verify that your honey is pure and not adulterated with corn syrup or sugar water.
Dip a cotton wick in honey and shake off the excess. Hold the wick against a flame. If it is pure honey, the wick will burn immediately while with adulterated honey, it will take a while to start burning.
Put a few drops of your honey on a blotting paper or a white cloth. If it is absorbed, then the honey is not pure.
These tests basically determine whether there is water in your honey because it is usually adulterated with either sugar water or corn syrup.
How to Store Honey? Useful Tips
- Always store honey in a cool and dry place. The reason for this is that being hygroscopic in nature, it tends to draw in moisture from the atmosphere. Honey stored in this fashion will stay well indefinitely because of its acidic ph, which does not allow microorganisms to flourish.
- The location of the honey should be away from direct sunlight.
- Use an airtight container for the honey.
- Don’t worry if the honey crystallizes and turns cloudy. It is natural for stored honey to crystallize, especially in cold countries, due to its high sugar content. You can place the bottle of honey in warm water to liquefy it. Just do not overheat. Overheating can change the flavor and color of the honey.
- Keep it in a freezer if you intend to store it for a few months. Defrost it before you consume it.
- Cold temperatures will thicken the honey while warmer temperatures will alter its taste and color.