Little facts about your natural honey

15th June 2013

ney dripping from a spoon

Honey doesn't really expire.

As long as you store it right, that is. Keep it in a cool dry place, well sealed: in a jar in your kitchen cupboard should be just fine. It shouldn't be refrigerated. However very warm temperatures and exposure to the sun might cause fermentation of your honey.

What it can do however is ferment when its water content is too high. Then you get to make mead.

Honey varies in its consistency, at different times of its life, depending on temperature it's stored in, type of honey and some other factors

Your honey might be liquid and runny when you get it, but next time you reach for your jar, you might get a surprise: don't worry, nobody has replaced your favourite jar of deliciousness - your honey might have just become hard, or, in honey terminology, it has crystallized.

It doesn't mean there's something wrong with your honey, or it's gone bad, quite the opposite, it's a very welcome sign of you purchasing real raw natural honey. Crystallization of honey is a very normal occurrence in natural honeys. So how does this happen?

When honey is extracted it tends to be rather liquid, however not long after that it crystallizes. How long it takes for it to become more solid depends on the type of honey: e.g. light meadow honey tends to crystallize really quickly, while darker honeys, such as Wild Hives buckwheat honey, will stay softer longer. The consistency of honey also depends on temperatures that it's stored in, the warmer it is the more it softens: you might notice that your honey which was solid in winter, suddenly became runnier in hot summer season.

If crystallized honey is just not your thing, or you want to pour your honey over some yummy yoghurts or other treats, you still don't need to run to your local shop to buy blended and heated runny honeys. Just stand your jar of natural honey in a bowl of warm water for a while and it will become runnier. Be aware though, honey heated in higher than +30 °C temperatures will loose its antibacterial properties, and heated more than once in such temperatures will never crystallize again.

No jar of natural honey is the same

Well it could be, almost, perhaps. Yet just as it is the case with people, days in our life, and all other things natural, every jar of your raw natural honey might differ a little. And that is the case even if you buy the same type of honey, that came from the same beekeepers that collected them from the same beehives.

Why is that? Firstly, the same type of honey collected from the same place in different times (e.g. different years), will vary in taste depending on such factors as weather (one summer might start sooner than the other bringing with it different flowers at different times), a mix of flowers that grow that season that might be changing slightly year to year.

Even honey collected from the same year but from different beehives might differ, as no bee is the same, and none of them can be told exactly where to fly and which flowers to pollinate: you might have acres and acres of the same crop, yet one of your bees might feel like wondering off today to a lovely meadow nearby and hence bring a little different tang to your natural honey.

That is one of the reasons why stocking natural honey is really hard for supermarkets, they tend to require every product that is branded and named the same to taste exactly the same every single time, and it is impossible to guarantee that with natural honeys, and can only be achieved by purposely blending honeys to manufacture your desired taste. So while the predictability of supermarket blended honey might be enjoyable , a jar of natural honey will offer a unique blend of flavours that even bees themselves won't be able to repeat. Just think about it, single special editions of honey every jar you buy! And all packed with natural goodness!