Authentic honey has distinct color, taste, viscosity and texture depending on the flowers that bees get nectar from. Nectar from different plants will definitely exhibit distinct taste and color due to the difference in levels of minerals, antioxidants and other trace elements that may be present. Such physical and chemical characteristics are carried into the honeys. But despite the existence of several varieties of honey, crystallization is the most misunderstood aspect about natural honey.
Most companies refine honey, which involves subjecting honey to heat followed by ultrafiltration. The result is very clean looking honey that stays in liquid form for several months or years. The downside is that heat destroys honey, it dentures the enzymes present in the honey, kills the vitamins and minerals and after filtration, the beneficial traces of propolis and pollen are all removed and all you are left with is sucrose and fructose, maltose and glucose.
Raw honey (which has not been heated or filtered) crystallizes naturally and spontaneously even though some varieties are more resistant to crystallization than others. As such, some would take a few days to crystallize while others, like Eucalyptus honey would take several months. Raw honey is whole honey as it contains all the goodness of Mother Nature and it’s the best to consume whether crystallized or not. It takes 12 bees each making a 1/12ths to make a teaspoon of honey-which is better than sweeteners including sugar.
While misinformation also contributes to people buying substandard honey, here is how to tell fake from genuine honey.
- The flame test: It is used to determine the moisture content of honey. If the moisture content is above 21 percent, the honey is either not mature or has added water hence a matchstick won’t light when dipped in the honey. A refractometer can be used to test for percentage of moisture too.
- Melting point: All raw honey crystallizes, but melts at temperatures between 36-40 degrees celcius. Sugar crystals require a higher temperature to melt.
- Continuous drip: When pouring honey off a jar/spoon, the flow should be continuous and not break severally like other liquids.
- Solubility test: When you place a tablespoon of honey in a glass full of cold water, the honey will sit at the bottom of the glass and will not dissolve unless stirred.