Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Honey Doesn't Go Bad

My father-in-law is a beekeeper and consequently knows a lot about the content of and process of making honey. When I asked him to explain to me again how honey has such a low water content (which is the main reason why it doesn't go bad) he wrote me the following:

While the honeycomb cells are still open, the honey is being reduced in moisture content by exposure to air kept moving by bees on duty fanning the air. The cells are capped once the moisture content is below 17%. It will not ferment after that. It can be used on a small cut because the high concentration of the honey will not support the growth of bacteria.

Reminder: Honey contains enzymes that are difficult for young ones under about two years old to digest.

When honey crystallizes in the jar, it is actually still good, but can be restored to fully liquid form by gentle warming. You can try a few seconds at a time in the microwave, or stand the jar in a pan of lukewarm water, or in summer, set it in the sun and over a time it will change back. However, heating above about 80 degrees destroys one healthful component in that it breaks down the helpful enzymes.

When you remove honey from the hive, you have to be sure to wait until all of the comb cells are capped by the bees, as they don't cap the honey until it reaches the low moisture content needed for long term storage.

Some fun trivia: You will get honey of varying flavors and textures at different times and locations.

I love learning about how perfect products of Nature are in their pure form
, and I have a great respect for these little workers who know instinctively how to perfect their product. It is no wonder to me that the early pioneers of Utah chose the honeybee and the beehive as their motto and state seal.

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