What is "raw" honey?
'Raw' is the term given to honey that has had nothing done to affect its taste or state. Most supermarket-sold honey has been pasteurised and is very often a blend of EU and non-EU honey. In some cases, it results in an entirely different product to what originally came out of the beehive!
We run honey tasting experiences at talks we give and people are always so surprised, often blown away, at just how different raw honey tastes and how much they prefer it - raw, artisan honey consistently is the top favourite compared to all other honey from a supermarket.
My honey has crystallised - can I still eat it?
Honey is a natural product and as such responds to temperatures and the environment it is kept in. Cheap honey, often found in a supermarket, tends to crystallise as a result of the processes it has been through, removing much of the raw goodness and leaving a high sugar 'honey of sorts'. It is that high, dense sugar content that causes the crystallisation. Raw honey can sometimes crystallise in a different way if the bees have foraged on oil seed rape, for example or if the honey has born exposed to cold temperatures for a long time.
There is nothing harmful about crystallised honey and some people like the grainy texture. To enjoy a less grainy, runny honey, simply warm the jar with the lid slightly undone by steaming in a vegetable steamer, or weighting the jar down in a bain marie until it begins to loosen. Stir the warmed honey through to help dissolve the granulation.
Is honey good for you?
A lot of press coverage details manuka honey; a single source, mono floral honey from bees who forage only on the manuka tree. However, all raw honey is incredibly good for you: it naturally has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic properties; honey is a natural sweetener that is low in salt, fat and protein.
The benefits of eating local honey are well known to assist with reducing the affect of hayfever but honey is an excellent, natural soother for sore throats and colds, is fantastic for applying to stings to draw out the venom and makes a great replacement for processed sugar in cooking and baking.