Raw honey is one special product. Unprocessed, it is pure honey that has not been heated or filtered. This lack of processing is a good thing, for it offers many benefits.
Raw Honey Tastes Amazing
I didn’t taste raw honey until I started beekeeping. My only exposure to honey had been your general supermarket honey, a “one note”of sugar that always tasted the same to me (which is their intent). But then I became a beekeeper, tasted my bee’s own raw honey, and now there is no going back.
Raw honey has a complexity and depth of flavor, not just sweetness. Yum.
Because different flower nectars will have different flavors, every sample of honey can potentially taste different. Flavors can range from floral, to fruity, to woody, to fresh, and everything in between. Smaller beekeepers may take advantage of this by harvesting small batches of honey to capture the unique flavors. (Larger honey harvests by bigger beekeeping operations tend to be combined and homogenized.) Don’t care for one type of honey? No problem. Move on and try another. Given all of the different flavor profiles out there, there is bound to be one that you will love.
Want to learn more about the different flavor profiles of honey? The book, The Honey Connoisseur, does a great job illuminating the topic and is written by two well-known beekeepers, C. Marina Marchese and Kim Flottum. They discuss the flavors of honey as a sommelier would discuss wine.
Raw Honey Is Good for You
Because raw honey has not been heated or filtered, it still has the pollen, propolis, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial enzymes found naturally in honey. Processed honey no longer has these good things in it. (Often raw honey is opaque in appearance because of the pollen, propolis, and maybe even some beeswax still in it.)
Raw honey has health-promoting antioxidants and polyphenols which help prevent disease. Raw honey can also
- strengthen the immune system,
- lower blood sugar levels and contribute to weight loss if it replaces sugar,
- help digestive issues,
- heal a sore throat,
- give good energy,
- promote good sleep,
- heal skin wounds and infections,
- soothe skin and acne (applied topically), and
- eliminate pollen allergies. (This only works if you eat honey that has small amounts of the pollen you are allergic to in it. To determine this, you may need to talk with the beekeeper.)
Is Raw Honey Safe?
Yes. Raw honey doesn’t spoil, nor does it need to be pasteurized to be safe to eat. It will crystallize over time, but this is not a sign of spoilage–it just means the texture has changed. (Did you know that you can liquify crystallized honey by placing the jar in a bath of warm water or setting it out in the sun?) Lastly, the same rule about not feeding honey to a child less than one year old still applies.
Raw Honey Is Eco-Friendly
Sugar cane has many environmental costs, including destruction of habitat, high water usage, and the heavy use of agricultural chemicals. Other sweeteners, such as stevia and agave, have similar environmental costs. Raw honey has none of these environmental costs, is unprocessed, and if you buy it locally, will save the environmental costs of shipping.
Where to Find Raw Honey
Realize that most honey on the market is not raw. The heating and filtering process gives the consumer translucent honey, a consistent product, and less crystallization. Because of this, I would avoid buying honey from a grocery store. Instead, a small market or health food store may have quality raw honey.
A great place to find it is a farmer’s market. Here you can meet the beekeeper in person and find out more about their product. Strike up a conversation and ask questions such as, “Is your honey raw?”, “Is it filtered?” or “Is it heated?”.
Like everything else, you can find raw honey online. I have tried many types of honey, but here are my favorites at the moment.
Really Raw honey has a balanced awesome flavor. This unstrained honey is full of the good stuff: honeycomb, propolis, and pollen. This honey has a lot of “texture” to it. Opaque and creamy.
Wee Bee Honey is another great tasting honey. This company uses organic methods, which means no pesticides in the hives. Opaque and creamy.
Bee Raw Honey offers honey in varietal flavors, such as blueberry, orange blossom, clover, basswood, wild raspberry, and buckwheat. Color and consistency differs with each variety. Always fun to try.
So the honey bear is cute, but next time you want some honey, seek out the truly good stuff–raw honey.
Photo Copyright: danifoto / 123RF Stock Photo