Honey Uses Q&A

bottle of honey image Here's a collection of questions related to honey and honey uses that visitors of Benefits of Honey have asked via the Just Ask Page Check out if these answer your most pressing question.
Question: Do you have to mix honey with liquid to get the benefits?

Reply: No, you don't have to. But for most people, honey is too sweet to be taken direct.

Question: I work in a restaruant where we serve honey in litte, glass, honey- pouring jars. For the past few months we have had issues with the honey "thickening". We receive the honey in gallon buckets and then dispurse the honey into smaller more manageable containers to ultimatly fill the honey jars that go to the tables. We store the jars on a shelf in our server alley. Nothing hot is around it. The thickening doesn't seem to come until they are in the jars. Why is this so?

Reply: Thickening of honey, also known as crystallisation of honey, is not caused by any hot objects/conditions. It's a natural process that happens to all honey over time. Rate of crystallisation varies depending on the honey floral variety. The storage condition also matters. Exposure to cold temperature speeds up the rate of thickening. Storing the honey into small jars would mean a greater exposure to the external atmospheric conditions, which could have quickened the process of crystallisation.

Question: We have honey stored for decades and some of the bottles now have a lot of crystallized stuff at the bottom and on top of the jars there is a thick dark liquid. Is this honey safe for consumption or it has gone bad?

Reply: Whether they are suitable for consumption after so long depends on the condition they are stored. Crystallisation is normal for honey and does no harm to the quality of the honey. But if the honey was not stored airtight and was exposed to the heat/light, this can cause a deterioration in its quality. Read: Honey Storage

Question: How do you make cinnamon and honey spread for toast?

Reply: Mix 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon with 2 tablespoon of honey. Use it as a spread for toasted bread.

Question: I use honey in many recipes. Some bottles that I buy are very smooth, and others seem to clump/crystalize a lot faster. I tend to set the bottle in a bowl and run hot water over it until it is pourable. Is it bad to do it that way, or should I just heat as much as I need? Also, once it crystalizes, the aroma seems to change. Does that affect the taste too?

Reply: Crystallisation doesn't change the quality of the honey, but when exposed to air/humidity and sunlight, honey can lose its aroma (so, always remember to store it in an airtight container). You can place the amount of crystallised honey in a glass/container over hot water to restore the state of the honey. However, never heat honey above 50C as it will not only affect its aroma and flavour but also destroy its food value - enzymes.

Question:I have been buying non-filtered honey at the local farmers market. It comes in reused jelly-type jars. I noticed that some of the honey is darker than others, some as dark as molasses. This happens even in the honey with the comb included. What does this mean? Is clear honey better?

Reply: Honey varies in colour depending on its floral variety. Colour (darker or lighter) is not used as an indicator of honey quality. Also crystallisation lightens the colour of honey.

Clear "commercial" honey has been heated and thoroughly filtered so that it looks cleaner and more appealing on the shelf, however its vitamins and minerals are partially destroyed during heating. Pure raw honey (rare nowadays) is totally unheated and hence more nutritious. However it's unfiltered and characterised by textured crystals, looks cloudy and contains particles and flecks of bee pollen, and even bee fragments, which could be in a way everyone would consider as undesirable. Find out how to test for Pure Honey.

Question: Should I worry that my honey may have originated from bees that polinate crops that also have pesticides? Will the chemical residue from those pesticides make it from the bees to my honey when I eat it?

Reply: Where commercial crops are concerned, the use of pesticides are legally kept at a safe level, hence most people are still consuming "inorganic foods" (as opposed to expensive "organic" foods). All food supply are assumed to have been tested by various government departments before they reach your plate. Also, beekeepers operating apiaries in areas where pesticides take steps to protect their bees from poisoning. However, actually if you seriously think about it, all honey can in a way be argued as "organic", as it's a product of the bee's digestive track, the stuff they use to feed their larvae.

You may be interested to read this:

When honey is labelled as organic: What is Organic Honey?

Why people have equated "organic" to "healthy" and claim there is a taste difference between organic and regular, which I personally have not quite figured out: Why Some Prefer Organic Food

Question: Why should you not feed honey to children under 1 year old?

Reply: The reason for advising against the consumption of honey for children under 1 yr old has to do with the risk of food poisoning caused by botulinum spores in the honey. Read details in: Warning Note on Honey and Infant

Question: I am always looking for "unpasturized" on the label when I buy honey. However, is all unpasturized honey required to be labeled as such? I see many many honey products, claiming to be "natural". Can I to assume that all honey with no distinct label is pasteurized?

Reply: "Natural honey" is not equated with "unpasteurized"/"raw". "Natural honey" could mean unadulterated honey, i.e pure, not added with cane sugar, malt, glucose. Usually, indeed when honey is not labelled "unpasteurized", it is pasteurized, and nowadays most commercial honey is pasteurized (as opposed to honey you get from the local honey farm).

As for the "pasteurized" labelling, every country has their own regulation and requirement. I am not sure if you can find lots of honey labelled "unpasteurized" in the supermarkets, because I understand for some countries, the term "unpasteurized" label on honey is prohibited, and you can find the label "raw" instead. Unpasteurized honey is now mostly directly purchased from the local honey farms, which do not exist in places within easy reach for some people.

An article which you might want to read: Did You Know Reading Food Label Can Be So Tricky?

Question: How do you know if the honey is not 100% pure & natural since there are many brands could play lying though "pure honey" tag. Also, this is written by some honey brands "This honey contains not less than 60% of reducing sugars calculated as dextrose anhydrous"? What are they trying to tell?

Reply: There are no clear official definitions of what "pure and natural", hence manufacturers have much liberty when claiming what is pure and natural honey.

Not sure if you have read these articles before:

Beware, the Natural Food Rage is on!

Did You Know Reading Food Label Can Be So Tricky?

Some countries have honey labelling requirements such as "honey is to contain not less that X% reducing sugars and not more than X% moisture." Basically "reducing sugar" in food chemistry term, refers to glucose (dextrose anhydrous) and fructose, so indirectly, the label also indicates the presence of sucrose (table sugar), a non-reducing sugar.

Question: How do I weigh honey accurately without any mess?

Reply: To measure accurately liquid honey, you can first brush or rub a very thin layer of cooking oil on the inner walls of the measuring cup to prevent the honey from sticking to the cup. (Nowadays, there are also non-stick sprays in the market to replace the need to smear cooking oil onto surfaces.)

Question: How do you keep honey after you open a bottle? I find that my honey turns thick and gets sugary.

Reply: Honey turning thick and sugary is normal and rate of crystallisation varies for the different types of honey. But this doesn't affect the quality of honey. Just place the sugary bottle of honey over warm water to dissolve the granules. And, always keep your honey in an airtight container after use to prevent moisture from the environment from entering the honey.

Read more about Honey Storage

Question: What are the benefits of using the honey produced in your own area?

Reply: It is a popular belief that consuming honey produced in your own area could counteract and treat pollen allergies. Some people have reported taking local honey a little bit on a daily basis for several months before the pollen season has made them become tolerant of the allergies.

Ref: Honey Allergy?

Question: What are the yardsticks to know pure and natural honey?

Reply: Quality natural honey can be measured by: 1) Amount of water content (honey when exposed to air/humidity can absorb moisture from the environment.) Introduction of water can cause honey to turn bad. 2) Amount of processing (this can be measured by the amount of HMF)-- the lesser the better 3) Amount of adulteration with water, inverted sugars, etc -- pure honey is 100% unadulterated.

Ref: How to Choose Good Quality Honey

Question: There are many different kinds of honey. Which honey is best?

Reply: There are countless brands of honey out there in mega-marts, grocery stores, and even online stores, originating from different countries. Most supermarkets/health stores carry honey that has been processed/heated to some extent, hence personally, I find it easier to believe in purchase of unprocessed, raw honey directly obtained from a trusted bee keeper or bee farm, though this is not always conveniently possible for everyone anywhere around the world, including myself.

The 1st thing to ensure is you get unadulterated honey, that is pure 100% honey. There are a few things which you should consider when choosing good quality honey, read: How to Test for Pure Honey

Secondly, note that not all honey varieties are equal in terms of medical/healing properties. Read on why Manuka Honey is special and where you can find some good honey: Manuka Honey

Where to Buy Honey

Question: Do you get the same benefits from raw honey if you put it in coffee or tea (thus heating it)? Does the temperature of coffee and tea not compare to the heat used in the pasteurization of regular honey? I am having trouble finding things to use the raw honey on/in without getting rid of the benefits?

Reply: To preserve the full goodness of honey, avoid adding piping hot water, as this would not only reduce the aroma and flavour of the honey, but also destroy the natural enzymes present in honey. It's advised that honey be added only when the tea or coffee has cooled down to some extent (40-50�C).

Most commercial honey is pasteurised (even if it's labelled "raw honey"). Honey suppliers have commercial pasteurizing equipments that heat honey quickly to about 70 degrees C for a few minutes and then cool it very quickly. This process will reduce the food value of honey to some extent.

Question: Can honey be frozen until you are ready to use it?

Reply: It's okay to freeze honey which you will not be using for months, without harming it. To avoid the hassle of defrosting, I would recommend storing honey in an air tight container in dry, cool place. Read: Honey Storage

Question: How do you keep honey after you open a bottle? I find that my honey turns thick and gets sugary.

Reply: Honey turning thick and sugary is normal and rate of crystallisation varies for the different types of honey. But this doesn't affect the quality of honey. Just place the sugary bottle of honey over warm water to dissolve the granules. And, always keep your honey in an airtight container after use to prevent moisture from the environment from entering the honey.

Question: How do I weigh honey in baking without getting my kitchen scale and everything in a mess?

Reply: To measure accurately liquid honey, you can first brush or rub a very thin layer of cooking oil on the inner walls of the measuring cup to prevent the honey from sticking to the cup. (Nowadays, there are also non-stick sprays in the market to replace the need to smear cooking oil onto surfaces.) Give it a try. Read: How to Measure Honey.

Question: What is an approximate weight of a gallon of honey?

Reply: According to the National Honey Board, a gallon of honey weighs "12 pounds", which is about 5.5kg.





End of "Honey Uses Q&A". Back to "Amazing Honey Bee Facts".

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