What does it mean when honey is “raw”?
Raw honey is honey that has been minimally processed after coming out of the hive. Most commercial honey is pasteurized, which means that it is heated to over 150 degrees Fahrenheit, then forced through a fine filter, and cooled rapidly. This is done to rid the honey of any pollen particles, which helps to keep the honey from crystallizing on the store shelf and makes the honey seem clearer and more visually appealing. It also is done to kill any yeast spores that might be present in the honey. Raw honey, on the other hand, is extracted from the hive, and lightly strained to remove any wax cappings or other extraneous objects, but then left at that. All the pollen, enzymes, and yeast are left in the honey. Here at King Cobra Apiary, we only strain our honey with larger filters that just remove the wax, but leave all the pollen and nutrients in. We also do not heat our honey for this process. It takes a little longer, but we think it is well worth it.
Is raw honey safe to eat?
YES! Raw honey is perfectly safe and healthy, though not recommended for infants or young children. The pasteurization process removes yeast, which prevents the honey from ever fermenting. This is important, BUT all honey should be at or below 18% water content anyway, which is too low for this yeast to reproduce. If you have heard the stories about honey found in the Egyptian pyramids that was still good, this would be why! Here at King Cobra Apiary, all of our honey is below 18% water content so it will never go bad or ferment.
Why is raw honey better than pasteurized?
Pasteurization removes all the pollen from the honey, and kills most enzymes, including diastase (amylase), invertase and glucose oxidase. The heat from pasteurization also damages many of the vitamins and minerals commonly found in natural honey.
Why did my honey crystallize?
Because our honey is raw, the bits of pollen can trigger the sugars to start binding to each other to form crystals. This is a similar process to how rock candy is made. If your honey crystallizes, it is still safe to eat and remains delicious! However, to return it to its liquid state, light heating will always do the trick. Some people like to put the bottle in front of a sunny window and let nature do the rest, but a bath in hot water works as well. However, heating the honey too high should be avoided, as it destroys the enzymes and nutrients, so use discretion and try not to heat the honey hotter than needed.