Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Honey and its Many {Natural} Forms

When you delve into the world of beekeeping, you learn a whole lot about bees.  You also learn a lot about honey.  Not only are there different kinds of honey (based on where the nectar comes from- which affects taste and color), the honey itself takes on different forms.

The kind I was most familiar with was the kind I grew up squeezing out of a plastic honey bear bottle.  You know, the kind with the tiny black lid that is forever sticky to the touch.  That is honey in its liquid form.  But why would it sometimes crystallize and need to be microwaved (eek- plastic in the microwave!) to make it runny again?

Well, there are two sugars that make up honey- glucose and fructose.  Depending on the type of flowers the nectar comes from, the ratio between the two sugars are different.  Some ratios allow the honey to remain liquid, a different ratio causes it to later crystallize (becoming grainy and sometimes hard) and yet another makes it creamy and spreadable almost like peanut butter.

Of the honey we're harvested so far on our short beekeeping journey, we've mostly seen our honey turn creamy but some has stayed liquid and we love both forms.  The liquid kind is perfect for drizzling over cereal, yogurt or into coffee. The creamier spreads beautifully on warm rolls (and doesn't run off the side).  We don't do anything to our honey to make it either or- it's the sugars that dictate its form.

The one thing I was lamenting about was the best way to store the liquid honey so it would be easy to use.  I didn't want a plastic bottle.  Even a glass honey bear would require some sort of cap that would inevitably get sticky and attract all sorts of ants (which are already in my kitchen, grrr).  So I went online and found this honey dispenser:

It can be used for honey or maple syrup, works beautifully and is inexpensive).  To fill, we take off the (fake) silver lid which is attached to a plunger that stops up a hole in the bottom.  Setting the top bowl on a plate (to stop up the hole now that the plunger is out) and using a funnel, we fill it with liquid honey. Then we screw the top back on, engaging the plunger and set it in it's glass stand. When we're ready to use it, we simply hold it over our food or drink, squeeze the handle and honey runs smoothly out the bottom. When we release the handle, the plunger reengages and stops the flow.  It usually drips once and then we put it back in its stand.  It makes a nice tight seal so no curious ants can find any sticky sweet excuse to raid my kitchen which makes me one happy woman.

comb in liquid honey on left, creamy on right

We store creamy honey in pint jars in the fridge.  It maintains its creaminess there and is out of reach of ants since that lid does get a bit sticky.

creamy honey

Another form of honey which I've mentioned before, is comb honey.  It's actual sections of honeycomb.  It's often stored in liquid honey but sometimes it's sold in trays.  It's best eaten (in our opinion) spread on warm toast or a bagel so that the wax comb melts into the bread and can be eaten right along with the bread and honey.

Some people heat and whip their honey to break down the crystals and make it creamy.  We have bought this kind in the past and loved it.  When some of our honey took on this form on its own, we were thrilled.

What's your favorite kind/type of honey?

P.S.  Our bees seem to like their new homes and are busy pollinating our pears, peaches and strawberries! Pin It


  1. I am from the SW Alabama, NW Florida area. We have Tupelo honey that can be purchased at farmers markets beginning in May each year. It's a light flavored honey that won't crystallize. There is a high demand so we're always looking for it around this time...lovely on buttermilk biscuits!!

  2. Fascinating! I've always wondered why some honey crystallizes. That creamy honey looks delicious! I can see why that's a hit in your house. Remind me to show you and the kids a picture tomorrow. :-)

  3. I think you should have a honey give-away honey! Just kidding! Waiting on local beekeepers in my area. One lost his bees last year due to the severe cold, but he's not giving up & ordered Russian bees to see if that will make a difference. I read an article about some honeys not being real honey & when they tested many brands that are carried in the stores have no pollen count. I was surprised that many of the big name brand fit in the category of 'not real honey'.

  4. I never knew that creamed honey was that way naturally! Fun to learn something new about honey! :) Your honey looks wonderful. And, I am so glad your new bees seem happy. Good signs. Hugs to you! Camille

  5. I just wrote a post on the benefits of local honey for allergy management!
    I love your bee series, living vicariously through you until I am brave enought to get them!

    1. Great post, Blair. Thanks for sharing it and best of luck with your top bar whenever it is that you get some bees moved in;-).

  6. I've bought the creamy honey before and it was "spiked" with cinnamon. omg, the flavor of this stuff is amazing!! the company that sold the honey also did a habanero honey and a honey with some herb in it, I'm thinking lavender but maybe I'm just thinking of what Mavis just posted. anyway, if you have enough to give out as Christmas gifts this year (crossing my fingers for you) that might be an idea. Good luck, I love the bee posts.
    Katie P NC


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