The Composition of Honey
As much as 80 percent of honey’s volume is simple sugars. It contains equal amounts of fructose and glucose. The remainder is made up of amino acids, enzymes, minerals, and water. The sugars are absorbed quite easily by your body because of their simple form in honey, making them digestion-ready. And, your body doesn’t need to expend energy when it’s assimilating honey the way that it does with ordinary sugar.
There are several different stages of honey, including:
~ Candied~ Homogeneous~ Liquid~ Thick
Many honey varieties gradually change in both consistency and color during storage. This is a process called crystallization (aka candy, or padding). This change in shape doesn’t affect the honey’s useful properties as crystallization is simply glucose crystal formation. On the other hand, fructose doesn’t crystallize, therefore, the more glucose the honey contains, the faster the crystallization takes place. For example, one type of honey (sunflower honey) starts crystallizing almost immediately following the harvesting, whereas white acacia honey remains liquid until spring comes. When the honey’s the glucose content is less, it will crystallize slower or not at all.
The Maturity of Honey
Following the nectar collection, the bees keep working on it for approximately one week. During that time, the excess moisture in the honey will evaporate, the complex sugars will become simple ones, and the honey fills with enzymes. The fact is that honey should be completely ripe but some unscrupulous beekeepers will pump it out without waiting for it to be ready, sacrificing quality in favor of expediency. They’re apparently forgetting that the bees won’t seal the honey in their honeycombs with wax until it’s ready. In addition, the excess moisture that occurs in immature honey can lead to the fermentation process beginning sooner, causing the honey to lose its taste and nutritional properties. Honey’s normal moisture content is actually less than 21 percent.
Distinguishing Mature Honey
When honey is denser, it flows smoothly and beautifully from a spoon in elastic-like threads without becoming immediately uniform on its surface. Here’s an interesting experiment to try. Scoop up a tablespoon of honey when it’s 68 degrees in temperature and then rotate it horizontally. The honey should hold on the surface and flow smoothly, wrapping around the spoon, meaning that it’s fully ripe. If it’s immature honey, it won’t remain on the spoon. Instead, it will drip or trickle down right away.
Honey is heavier than water. In the presence of normal humidity (less than 21 percent), one liter of honey (excluding any packaging) weighs more than 3.086 pounds. If you put the honey in a warm cup of water and stir it with a spoon, it should sink because it’s heavier than the water. It will then dissolve completely and quickly without leaving any sediment behind.
The quality of honey is determined by its organoleptic properties that affect its color, feel, odor, and taste. Naturally, it should be sweet. Only a few types have a bitter taste, including chestnut and lime. High-quality honey completely dissolves in your mouth. Smell it, feeling its fragrance. Any honey with sugar added will not have the same distinctive taste. In addition, honey should not have an acidic odor because it indicates the start of fermentation. A caramel aroma and flavor are indications that the honey has been heated. Natural honey sometimes has tiny particles of pollen and that wax. However, wings or other insect body parts are an indication of poor filtration. And, when the honey doesn’t come from the nectar of flowers, but rather from the sugar syrup fed to the bees, it will be an unnatural white color. It’s important to note that certain natural honey products will be a naturally white color or even a crimson color.
Sugar & Water Content
To determine the presence of water and sugar in honey, simply get a piece of paper, dipping it in the honey and setting it on fire. The water will start hissing, the sugar starts crystallizing, and the honey will melt. Another way for detecting sugar in honey is heating just the tip of a piece of iron wire (like a straightened paper clip) with your lighter. Then, lowering it into the honey for just a few seconds, check it. If the wire stays clean, it’s good honey but if a drop stays on the wire, then it’s a fake.
You can determine honey’s moisture content by dropping a piece of bread into some high-quality honey. Not only will the bread not get wet, but it could actually become harder since the honey will draw most of the moisture out of it. Another test you can try is by dropping some honey onto a piece of paper. If the drop starts spreading and the paper becomes wet, then the honey contains excess moisture and is not good quality.
Chalk, Starch, or Flour Presence
The presence of any kind of chalk additives can be easily determined by using acetic acid. This is because chalk will cause a reaction due to an intensive carbon dioxide release. And, any starch or flour presence can be determined by simply using iodine, which will turn blue if it comes in contact with the honey.
About the Honeycombs
Honeycombs are masses of wax prismatic hexagonal cells that are built by honeybees in their nests for the purpose of containing their larvae and storing their pollen and honey. The bees consume approximately 8.4 pounds (3.8 kg) of honey for secreting just one pound (454g) of wax. That’s why it makes absolutely perfect sense economically to return that wax to their hive once the honey has been harvested. The honeycomb’s structure is basically left intact when the honey is extracted by uncapping it and then spinning it in a honey extractor, which is a centrifuge machine.
About Bee Pollen
There are a number of excellent uses for bee pollen in health, wellness, and beauty. With its energy-boosting rich protein, antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties as well as calcium, magnesium, and vitamins, bee pollen offers a wealth of health benefits for everyone. Try some of our bee pollen today for a healthier tomorrow!