Many people believe that raw honey provides more health benefits than regular honey. Is raw honey more healthful, and what are the differences?
What is Raw Honey?
The difference between raw honey and pure honey is that in addition to being pure, “raw” honey has not been heated to the point of pasteurization (no higher than 118°F). The benefit of not heating honey is that the naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins and minerals are preserved and you get the full benefits of them from eating raw honey.
- bee pollen, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- bee propolis, a glue-like substance that helps keep the hive together
- certain vitamins and minerals
- amino acids
Regular honey looks very clear and smooth, while Raw Honey tends to have a mixture of colors and a cloudy or creamy appearance.
What is “Commercial”/“Regular” Honey?
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) for easy filtering and bottling so that it looks cleaner and smoother, more appealing on the shelf, and easier to handle and package.
Large producers of honey want a consistent look and flavor of their honey, whereas natural honey will have a wide variance in color and flavor depending on where the bees collect pollen and what time of year the honey is created and collected.
What happens when honey is heated or pasteurized?
Pasteurization is the process of heating honey at high temperatures to make it easier for bottling. Pasteurization may damage or destroy antioxidants and other beneficial elements in honey.
The process of pasteurizing honey makes honey smoother and more aesthetically appealing, but it also reduces its health benefits.
What is Unfiltered Honey?
“Filtering” honey means processing the honey to remove very small particles, often even as small as the pollen. With filtration, honey is also often heated to become more liquid in order to make the filtering process easier, meaning that the honey is no longer raw.
Therefore, unfiltered honey is not necessarily raw unless labelled so, but it will be closer to its state straight from the hive than honey that has been filtered.
What is Pure Honey?
A “pure honey” label means that you are getting 100% honey, without any other ingredients (such as corn syrup, which is sometimes added to industrial honey to reduce costs). However “pure” honey alone doesn’t always tell you much about the varietal or how the honey is produced, so it’s good to look for more information to make sure you’re getting all the benefits you can from honey when it’s produced in the most bee- and environment-friendly way.
Is taste of raw honey and regular honey different?
Have you noticed that all "commercial" regular honey tastes the same? Did you wonder why?
The short easy answer is your standard everyday bottle of "Honey" is a bland boring combination of multiple honey's to maintain price point. Large honey packers buy different types of honey at different prices from multiple sources. The honey is then heated, filtered, and blended to maintain your color consistency and price. Unfortunately this processing kills much of the natural enzymes and with it the great flavors that you get with raw honey. Heating and filtering the honey is also done to keep the honey from granulating which most honeys do naturally. ("granulation" is honey's way of preserving itself).
Raw honey is packaged with as little processing as possible. Basically getting you the honey straight from they hive as the bees made it without all of the stings. The lack of processing leaves the honey with all of the enzymes and full flavors of the different types of flowers that the bees collected nectar from. There are thousands of flowers that bees can make honey from so essentially there are thousands of honey flavors.
How can you tell if its real honey?
High-quality honey can be distinguished by fragrance, taste, and consistency. Ripe, freshly collected, high-quality honey at 20 °C (68 °F) should flow from a knife in a straight stream, without breaking into separate drops. After falling down, the honey should form a bead. The honey, when poured, should form small, temporary layers that disappear fairly quickly, indicating high viscosity. If not, it indicates honey with excessive water content of over 20%, not suitable for long-term preservation. In jars, fresh honey should appear as a pure, consistent fluid, and should not set in layers.
Real honey doesn't mix readily with water. Just drop a teaspoon into a glass of water and you'll see that it settles at the bottom of your container. To incorporate it into the liquid, real honey needs to be stirred. Fake honey, on the other hand, easily dissolves in water without even mixing
Within a few weeks to a few months of extraction, most varieties of honey crystallize into a cream-colored solid. True Raw honey will never stay liquid and transparent for a long time.