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Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

Tips for Buying the Best Honey

Seventy-six percent of honey sold in major supermarkets is untraceable because it contains virtually no pollen, according to Food Safety News. Pollen in commercial honey is filtered to keep it liquid, but ultrafiltered honey from China has been found to be contaminated with antibiotics and heavy metals. (For more on honey read 15 Household Uses for Honey and The Health Benefits of Honey.)

Best Honey

Know Your Honey

If whole foods are important to you, avoid mass-produced supermarket honey. Opt to buy honey that is closer to the land, and keep the beneficial compounds in the sweet substance in your food. 

Read the Label: Some honey, especially the kind that comes in a to-go packet, is actually flavored high-fructose corn syrup. The ingredient list will spell it out for you.

Opt for Raw: Raw honey is the consistency of peanut butter because it is unfiltered and has crystallized. Honey that stays in liquid form longer is generally Grade A honey, which means it’s been filtered, so many of the healthiest natural compounds are gone, too. Plus, you are guaranteed to avoid inferior, superfiltered honey by opting for raw.

Where is it From? Choose honey that is produced close to home, if possible. Artisan producers are often available to discuss how they process their honey, if you give them a call. Your health-food store employees may be able to help you select a high-quality product, also. Even better, find a beekeeper in your area to buy from.

Plant for Pollinators

No one knows what causes Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious phenomenon of bee nests dying en masse, but we can do our part to save these crucial creatures by growing plants the pollinators love. Bees are attracted to brightly colored day-blooming flowers full of nectar, especially those tubular in shape. They also need a flower structure that acts as a landing platform. Plus, bees like a sweet or minty scent. Plant these five herbs to help bees thrive.

• Lavender
• Thyme
• Mint
• Borage
• Bee balm

How to Make Infused Honeys

Follow the flow chart to make three types of infused honey: ginger, chili and, for the adventurous, garlic. Stir it into tea, add it to toast or heap it on waffles! (Garlic honey makes a good cold remedy or an unusual topping for vanilla ice cream.)

2 cups local honey + 1/4 teaspoon citric acid + 1 tablespoon ginger powder or 4 tablespoons dried chili flakes or 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh garlic

Mix all ingredients in a large jar, cover tightly and allow to sit away from sunlight for up to three weeks for best flavor.

Excerpted with permission from Honey Crafting by Leeann Coleman and Jayne Barnes, F+W Media, Inc. 2013. Buy this book from our store: Honey Crafting.

dawn garman combs
3/5/2014 4:33:12 PM

This is really disappointing and a great disservice to many beekeepers. The statements above about raw honey being "the consistency of peanut butter" and further that if it is liquid that it is generally "grade A honey which means it’s been filtered, so many of the healthiest natural compounds are gone, too." are misleading if not merely false. When honey is harvested it is liquid... not a peanut butter consistency. It remains liquid for a differing amount of time, depending on the nectar that makes up the honey. This honey will remain liquid as long as it is kept somewhere that is reasonably warm. To continue to tell a public that is trying to be discerning in their honey purchase that everything that sits on the farmer's market tables in liquid form must be heated is causing many of us an uphill battle. Being a beekeeper is hard enough already. Please instruct your readers instead that they should ask the following questions: 1. Do you heat filter your honey? 2. Do you use heaters on barrels of honey that are in storage and have solidified? 3. Do you heat your honey to bottle it? Here you will find many different answers. The consumer will need to decide if they are ok with a small amount of heat but no pasteurization, if they're ok with pasteurization... or they may only want honey that has NEVER been heated at all. Further, you are not guaranteed that a solid honey is raw. Even "thick" honey, if it has sat for a very long time on a store shelf may in fact have been heated to a certain extent. Even Grade A Honey will crystallize over time. In our honey operation, we do not do any of the above practices. We are completely chemical free, never apply heat directly to our honey and raise our bees biodynamically. Due to posts like this we have had very angry customers over the years who believe we are lying when they see liquid honey on our table and hear us say it is raw. Raw honey is truly difficult to find, it is even more difficult to raise and care for. Please don't vilify those of us who are doing it correctly by reporting only part of the story.