Most honey that is sold in supermarkets is commercially processed before being packaged. In most cases, this includes heating honey to a temperature of at least 48.9 degrees Celsius to make it more liquid and then filtering it to remove substances such as pollen. Advocates for raw honey claim that valuable nutrients and enzymes are destroyed during the heating and processing. The National Honey Board affirms this, saying "Enzymatic activity, antimicrobial properties, microbial quality, colour and chemical composition are all influenced by heat and storage." Luckily, there are a number of ways to distinguish processed honey from raw honey.
- Skill level:
Examine honey visually. Raw honey often has a cloudy appearance because of the pollen and other unfiltered material it contains, whereas processed honey is much clearer. In addition, when you turn a bottle of honey upside down, processed honey will flow freely and raw honey will flow more slowly because it is more solid at room temperature.
Read the label for clues on how the honey was processed, if at all. Labels on raw honey will typically tell you that the honey is unfiltered, unheated or unpasteurised. If none of these are mentioned, it might be processed honey.
Contact the maker of a type of honey if you are unsure whether it is raw or processed. If they are honest, they will tell you what processes they use between the beehive and the bottle. If the honey has been heated to above 48.9 degrees Celsius, it is definitely not raw honey.
Tips and warnings
- Be aware that there are no nationally regulated standards for honey labelling. This means that if the label on a bottle of honey says that it is raw, it is not based on any regulated definition of raw honey. According to the National Honey Board, raw honey is honey as it is in the beehive, without heating during the minimal processing that takes place. Unfortunately, this definition does not regulate the labelling of honey.
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