What's raw honey? Why isn't all honey raw?
It's probably not too difficult to remember well what "raw" means when you associate it with uncooked vegetables and meat whereby any form of heating is avoided so as to ensure all the natural vitamins and living enzymes and other nutritional elements are preserved.
Raw honey is the most original sweet liquid that honeybees produce from the concentrated nectar of flowers. Collected straight from the honey extractor; it is totally unheated, unpasteurized, unprocessed honey. An alkaline-forming food, this type of honey contains ingredients similar to those found in fruits, which become alkaline in the digestive system. It doesn't ferment in the stomach and it can be used to counteract acid indigestion. When mixed with ginger and lemon juices, it effectively relieves nausea and supplies energy. Raw foodists loves honey for its exceptional nutritional value and its amylase, an enzyme concentrated in flower pollen which helps predigest starchy foods like breads.
A lot of honey found in the supermarket is not raw honey but "commercial" regular honey, some of which has been pasteurized (heated at 70 degrees Celsius or more, followed by rapid cooling) for easy filtering and bottling so that it looks cleaner and smoother, more appealing on the shelf, and easier to handle and package. Pasteurization kills any yeast cell in the honey and prevents fermentation, which is a concern for storing honey with high moisture content over a long period especially in warm weather. While fermentation does not pose a health danger (mead is fermented honey), it does affect the taste of honey. Heating also slows down the speed of crystallization in liquid honey. On the downside, when honey is heated, its delicate aromas, yeast and enzymes which are responsible for activating vitamins and minerals in the body system are partially destroyed. Among manufacturers there exists no uniform code of using the term "raw honey". There are no strict legal requirements for claiming and labelling honey as "raw". Nevertheless, suppliers who understand that honey that has undergone heat treatment would not be as nutritious and have the consumers' health in mind would ensure their honey is only slightly warmed (not pasteurized), just enough to allow the honey to flow for bottling. Thus, you may also find raw honey that are unprocessed but slightly warmed to retard granulation for a short period of time and allow light straining and packing into containers for sale. Using as little heat as possible is a sign of careful handling by honey suppliers.
Discover how much you know about honey with this quick quiz. Your quiz results might well surprise you! All in: Do you really know me, honey?
Color is used in the honey industry as a convenient measure of honey flavour and aroma. Generally, lighter honeys have a milder flavor and darker honeys have a more robust flavor. The color and flavour of honey is largely determined by the floral source of the nectar. However, exposure to heat and storage time may affect honey's quality and color. Normally, the darkening of honey occurs more rapidly when honey is stored at high temperatures. Also, honey appears lighter in color after it has granulated, which is why most creamed honeys are opaque and light in color.
1) Get these terms and concepts straight - pure honey, creamed honey versus clear liquid honey, crystallisation of honey, honeycomb, monofloral varietals, darkening of honey, viscous versus runny honey, honey storage, and more in: Frequently Asked Information About Honey.
2) How is organic honey differentiated from regular honey? More in: What Makes Organic Honey Different?
3) With so many terms such as raw, pure, organic, etc, buying honey can be tricky. My take on Which Honey to Buy?
4) How much do you trust the labels on the honey jars?: More in: Eating Real Honey?
5) Read about my online find: Really Raw Honey!
6) Does wild honey really taste sour? And does it produce a clear solution when mixed with water? Wild Honey Questions. Need Your Help!
7) Honey claims and labels can be confusing. Get tips that would lend you some clues about honey labelling: Natural Honey, Pure Honey, Raw Honey ~ Making Sense of Honey Labels.
8) Learn about issues related to honey crystallization, pasteurization, and get the best tips for handling and storing honey: Honey Storage Tips.
9) Is honey powder another form of honey? Is it really made of 100% honey?: What in the World is Honey Powder?.