What is raw honey?

raw honey

I’d be a very rich man if i was given a pound for every time i was asked ‘What is the difference between raw honey and cheap honey?’

In a nutshell raw honey is just that, it’s honey that’s gathered fresh from the hive, nothing added to it and nothing taken from it. That is basically what makes it raw honey. Plain and simple!

In Britain we can safely say that we have a sweet tooth as we get through over 40,000 tonnes of honey every year. However, most people that have tasted honey have not tasted pure raw honey. It is a sad statistic to read that 95% of the honey we consume in the UK is imported, and is not exactly the way the bees or mother nature intended it to be.

It always puts a smile on my face when somebody tries a jar of our honey. I am always told that it is so much more flavoursome and aromatic than the mass produced supermarket variety. My reply to them is aIways the same, I am not the one to thank for the delicious taste or the beneficial health properties it gives. The real thanks goes to the bees and the habitat they live in.

Not all honey is created equal

Lovely Pure Raw Honey Goodness

So what makes unprocessed raw honey different from the cheap endless jars that you may see lined up along the shelves of your local supermarket? It’s all the same stuff right? WRONG! In my opinion supermarket is not even real honey.

Let me explain the difference between raw honey and cheap honey. Raw honey contains many health promoting enzymes and minerals that are preserved during the bottling process. The beekeeper simply extracts the honey from the frames of the uncapped honeycomb where it has been stored by the bees, by using a special type of spinner machine.

Once the frames have been spun the honey is collected at the bottom of the extractor and poured from a tap into the jar. No heat is used and the honey is filtered very lightly through a strainer to remove any debris or wax. All the good stuff remains including the nutritious pollen. This raw honey is now ready to be enjoyed on your toast.

You will often notice that raw honey may crystallise in the jar a few months after it has been sitting in your kitchen cupboard. This is perfectly normal and has no effect on the taste or freshness of your honey and it is in fact an indication of its good raw quality.

This crystallisation can easily be reversed by bathing your closed jar in a bowl of warm water for several minutes, and it will return to its glorious runny state again. I actually prefer my honey slightly granulated and not so runny.

Bee in a honey cell
A bee storing honey in a cell

The Not So Tasty Processed Honey

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of the supermarket honey. This has many more processes to endure before it makes it into your shopping basket.

Firstly, the commercial honey suppliers import the cheap honey, mainly from China. This honey has previously been regarded as low grade honey, mostly due to the quality issues concerning nasty residues often found.

Because our supermarkets prefer the honey on their shelves to remain runny, the honey suppliers heat the honey at a high temperature. This prevents the honey from crystallising in the jar but due to the high heat involved it also destroys the beneficial enzymes and antioxidants that do our bodies good.

The honey is then stringently filtered removing the remaining goodness, so virtually rendering the honey into no more than honey coloured sugar syrup. In effect, this is no more beneficial than putting sugar on your breakfast cereal in the morning. Not a great start to your day.

Where Can I Buy Raw Honey?

Ok, so hopefully i have now convinced you that you should buy raw honey, and you now know what the difference is between raw honey and cheap honey. Good, but where can i lay my hands on some of this glorious stuff I hear you ask. Well, apart from our online shop where you can buy some of the tastiest, yummiest raw honey around, my advice is to find a local beekeeper to you. He or she may have some honey at the end of the season that they will be happy to sell to you.

Another good place will be a farmers market. You should be able to find larger quantities here to last you throughout the year. This will also give you the opportunity to speak face to face to a real beekeeper and ask any questions which i’m sure they will only be too happy to answer.

Raw honey is produced in limited quantities each year by the hard working bees, so once it has sold out it is gone for another year and demand often outstrips supply each season. I am proud to consider raw honey a premium, luxury product that is worth paying a little extra for, especially as it is fresh from the hive.

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