What is Raw Honey?
Food labelling can be confusing. It can be difficult to understand what is genuine, useful information and what is simply marketing. When it comes to honey we might see a product labelled as pure, natural or organic and not fully understand what that means.
Thankfully raw honey has a very specific and important definition and honey must meet specific criteria to be labelled as such. In simplest terms raw honey is unprocessed honey- honey that hasn't been pasteurised or filtered. Nothing added or taken away. In this blog we'll look at all types of honey and the processes they undergo to explore what makes raw honey different.
Organic Honey is the same as or better then Raw Honey, right?
Unfortunately when it comes to honey the term 'organic honey' is probably the most misunderstood. You would be forgiven thinking that all raw honey is organic and that organic honey must be raw honey but that really isn't the case at all.
For honey to be considered organic the bees must have only collected pollen from flowers that have not been treated with chemicals. The honey producer must able to prove that all their bees have foraged organically and are a considerable distance from common pollution sources like busy motorways and factories. As you might imagine this is extremely difficult to execute in the UK even if you wanted to produce organic honey. This is the reason most of the organic honey is imported from countries with large areas of open and natural space such as New Zealand.
The important thing to remember is that while raw honey can be organic; organic honey is not necessarily raw honey. Organic honey can be processed as much as any inexpensive supermarket honey and still be considered 'organic'!
What about Natural Honey and Pure Honey?
These types of honey are a little more difficult to define. All real honey is 'natural' so if something is labelled as such then there's not much more information to be gained other than it's not a sugary substance made to taste like honey. I would expect a jar of 'natural' honey to not contain any artificial flavourings or synthetic stabilisers but it will likely be heavily processed and filtered.
A jar labelled pure honey should not contain any additives at all, even if they are natural, but again, it's likely to be processed. Neither 'pure' or 'natural' mean the same as 'raw' and when it comes to honey and neither is a good indicator of the quality of the honey overall.
So what makes Raw Honey different to all other honey?
We've used the word 'processed' several times already and that is the key word and key difference of raw honey. Raw honey is honey in its original unprocessed form. You might rightly wonder what these processes are and why they are seen by us and many others as a negative. So let's explore those processes, why large manufacturers use them, and what makes raw honey different.
Processed honey often starts life as cheap imported, low grade honey from Asia. So even before any processing starts, the quality of the product is not always what you might want or expect.
It's then pasteurised, which involves heating the honey to temperatures over 70 degrees Celsius. The pasteurising process damages the honey and removes many of the natural flavours, textures, health boosting nutrients and antioxidants that are found naturally in honey.
The main reason manufacturers use this damaging process is to make the honey look nice and clear on the shelves and to keep it in its runny, easily squeezable state.
As well as pasteurisation it's common for processed honey to be extremely fine filtered to remove any small particles of pollen, beeswax, bee glue and other nutrients. These tiny bits and pieces are the main reason that raw honey is more likely encourage the formation of crystals over a fully processed product. The large brands and supermarkets believe you won't want to buy honey with these particles.
At Just Bee we believe something different. Our honey has not been pasteurised or fine filtered. Because of this, it is full of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. We would never process our honey to the point that all the beneficial nutrients of the honey are likely to be destroyed. Not only that but we believe that the loss of flavour in processed honey is clear to anyone who tries our honey. Raw honey is extracted from the comb before being coarsely filtered and put into jars... and that's it.
The only real downside to raw honey, as many of you will have experienced already, is that it will crystallise quite quickly. We believe that is a small price to pay for a far superior product. If you do find that your jar of raw honey is starting to crystallise check out our how to de-crystallise honey blog for the best solutions. The truth is crystallisation is a sign of a good quality raw honey.
When somebody tries a jar of Just Bee Raw Honey for the first time, they are often shocked by how much more aromatic and flavoursome it is compared to the typical processed supermarket honey they are used to. We've even converted people who thought they didn't like honey! That's the difference of raw honey straight from the hive with nothing added and, most importantly, nothing taken away. At Just Bee we believe that this is the only way to really enjoy honey and take full advantage it's health benefits.