Friday, February 10, 2012

Honey Dreams

Today, I am home nursing a cold. As I sit here by the fire with my hot lemon and honey, I am dreaming of a day this fall when we will extract and bottle our own raw honey. I am optimistic that each of our hives will produce 50 LBS or more. That will likely be a sticky unruly learning process, and I'm sure you'll hear all about it! Until then though, I thought I'd share a few cool tid-bits about honey with you all.
Raw honey is the bee's food. The only reason bees store honey is to survive the winter. The honey bees travel the country side collecting nectar from flowers and bringing it back to the hive. They also collect pollen and water according to the needs of the hive. The water is later extracted from the honey by the bees before the honey is capped with wax. The pollen remains in the honey and aids in filling the nutritional needs of the hive. Pollen is a source of protein, this is important since bees are the descendants of wasps which are carnivores.
Raw honey is not only a natural sweetener but is also considered a super food because it is a powerful antioxidant full of rich nutrients. Also it is a a natural antiseptic, an antibacterial and is used in many places as a healing salve for burns and wounds.  Raw honey is good for soothing sore throats and helps calm a cough, like I have today. Also raw honey contains B complex vitamins, which include riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, pyridoxine, biotin and B12. It also contains vitamins A, C, D, E and K, as well as traces of minerals like iron, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. It also contains enzymes and amino acids.Source:
So why do I keep repeating raw honey and not just honey? Pasteurized honey has been heated to 140 degrees F for at least 20 minutes which kills all the living organisms in the honey, leaving mostly sugar. While you'll still get the sweet, that's about all. So make sure when you buy honey is says on the label raw or un-pasteurized.
Raw honey will never spoil, and can be kept indefinitely, as long as it is clean. Never put a dirty spoon in the honey jar! The food particles from the spoon will interact with the bacteria in raw honey and mold. I said raw honey will never spoil but it will crystallize. In fact, only raw honey will crystallize. So, if the honey in your cabinet is crystallizing, you can be sure its raw. Crystallizing is a natural process that ocures with all raw honey, and the rate of the process is determined by the type of flower nectar that created the honey. What do you do with crystallized honey? Just heat it slowly on low heat, a sauce pan half filled with water on the stove works well to put honey back into solution. As long as you don't get it over heated there is no change in the honey. Or, just eat it that way. Evidently many people prefer crystallized or whipped honey.
I have read that in her life a honey bee will produce 1/12 of one teaspoon of honey. The 60,000 or so bees in a beehive may collectively travel as much as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey!
So enjoy honey with respect of all that went into it, the honey bee litterally worked her self to death making it! With that I'll sign off. It's time to stoke the fire and refill my mug!
Cheers. KJ

1 comment:

April said...

Honey is my favorite sweetener -- thanks for the tidbits!