Hum dum de dum, hum dum de dum,
I’m so rumbly in my tumbly.
Time to munch an early luncheon,
time for something sweet!
Oh I wouldn’t climb this tree
if a Pooh flew like a bee,
but I wouldn’t be a bear then,
so I guess I wouldn’t care then!
Bears love honey and I’m a Pooh bear,
so I do care, so I’ll climb there.
I’m so rumbly in my tumbly,
time for something sweet! (Winnie the Pooh)
Pooh knows whats good. He climbs trees to find his treasures, and then simply sticks his paw in the hive.
As I have shown you in my previous post, us humans do it a bit differently. After we’ve produced a lot of sweat by extracting our honey, the next question arises: what to do with it now?
Again, there are many options. We can choose to have our honey raw, or process it slightly. We can choose to have it as a runny liquid, or eat it straight off the comb. Did you know you can even have a mix of those two? It’s called Chunk honey. It’s a jar of liquid honey with chunks of comb floating in it….. Yeah, quite strange. I like the idea, but HOW on earth could this be useful? Let the person who knows please contact me!
So, the more likely options.
Raw honey is honey in its purest form, unprocessed. On average, it’s chemical composition is as follows:
Glucose – 31.3% /Fructose – 38.2% /Maltose – 7.3% / Sucrose – 1.3% /Higher sugars – 1.5%
This makes a total of 79.6% sugars. The water content is usually about 17.2% and the rest consists of organic acids, minerals and other components. (O, and if you care: its energy value is about 300 calories per 100 gram)
Very nice, raw honey. There is a downside though: it is unstable. The glucose crystallises over time. I’m sure you’ve seen that old jar in the back-corner of the cupboard that hasn’t been touched for years. Instead of looking nice and transparant, it now has white, coarse crystals in it. It’s because the glucose content in most honeys is more than can stay dissolved as a liquid. The result: it slowly starts to form crystals. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just doesn’t look that appetising.
Solution: Cream your honey! You don’t use cream, and you also don’t use icing sugar (a persisting myth due to the light colour of creamed honey)
Creamed honey is also called granulated or crystallised honey.
You pretty much exaggarate the natural crystallising process, and make all your raw honey crystallise to small, smooth and fine crystals instead of big and coarse ones. You don’t need to add any mysterious additives and you don’t need to heat it. The only thing you add is a bit of already existing creamed honey and then stir. You stir slow and evenly, and don’t give up when you grow tired of it, because endurance gives you the best result. Don’t beat the honey – it will ferment!
Introducing a ‘starter honey’slightly resembles the idea of introducing a culture, but instead of a growing culture it is sugar building a chain. The small crystals of the creamed honey you put in your raw honey act as cores on which new crystals will form. Make sure both honeys are nice and warm, but not too warm because that will melt the crystals. By stirring it, the crystals get evenly mixed in and distributed. You need to persist stirring for 2 to 3 weeks; 2 or 3 times a day.
Funnily enough, when its ready to store it needs to be in a cooler temperature for about a week (between 12 and 14 degrees Celcius – a basement would be perfect for this). At this temperature the honey keeps on crystallising as quickly and finely as it possibly can.
Watch out! After this first week your creamed honey is a ready, stable structure and it needs to be stored at room temperature again. If you keep it cool, it starts frosting! It doesn’t actually freeze, but it’s a similar process. Normally the crystals create air pockets and reflect the light, just like ice does. But in this case it will overdo it, which causes it to shrink just like water shrinks when it freezes!
And just like you can keep on melting and refreezing ice, you can also melt and ‘refreeze’ your creamed honey. Just put it in the microwave, and it will become a clear and transparant raw honey again. Stir it again with a bit of creamed honey, and it will crystallise again! The cool thing is you can keep on doing this over and over again – the chemical and nutritional properties stay exactly the same!
This was Part 1 of Which Honey in my Tummy? Bee-lieve it or not, but there’s more. Stay tuned.