Storing Honey

Sept. 27, 2012

Dear Holly,

I would like to start off by thanking you and Stan for all the hard work both of you have put into your book Dare To Prepare. The information in it has been invaluable to my husband and me in our preparations for what is coming.

In our own quest to learn as much as we can about becoming self sufficient we decided to undertake keeping honey bees as an additional source of sustainable food. What I have learned in this process about storing honey I would like to share with you as I felt that most people do not know.

As you have correctly stated in your book, honey will store indefinitely. But not just any honey. The thing that most people are unaware of is that this only applies to raw unfiltered and non-pastuerized honey which has a moisture content below 18% to prevent fermenting. The brand names of honey bought in local grocery stores has been processed, filtering out all pollens and heating (basically pastuerizing) to clarify it to stay clear and to kill the yeast to prevent fermentation.

A few years ago I bought some honey from the store to put in long term storage before I started keeping bees. I was unaware of the difference the processing would make in storing it. I pulled these bottles out of storage a few days ago and found that they had congealed at the bottoms of the containers in a solid mass with a liquid state in the top half. One of the well known name brands that was advertised as "raw" which I bought some time ago, and which I will not mention here, had a horrible odor and taste that no one would ever want to cook with or use. It is important to know that true raw honey when properly handled will crystallize evenly throughout the jar and is a natural process which will not effect it's longevity or quality. 

From what I have learned, the reason for these companies filtering the pollen out is to keep the true origins of the honey from being discovered as much of it is coming from outside our own country. Pollen is like a fingerprint, allowing for the country of origin to be seen. If most people knew that China was discovered storing honey in lead containers I am sure they would be very concerned.

I also have learned that filtering is not the same as straining. Straining is what almost all small honey producers do that hand package and sell their honey and therefore all the pollens and enzymes are still intact. Filtering removes the pollens which normally would pass through a strainer. The pastuerization or heating of the honey to high temperatures is also a method the big companies use to keep the honey clear as long as possible because the majority of consumers are not educated about the nature of true raw honey. They believe that if it is not clear that it is not good.

True raw honey will start to crystallize within a short time after being extracted from the comb. The average consumer believes that when it crystallizes to a solid form that it is no longer edible. On the contrary, it is the best way for honey to be stored and as you had mentioned can easily be heated in a pan of warm water to make it liquid again or even scooped out like butter to be spread on toast.

Raw local honey which has the proper mositure content below 18% and has not been filtered or heated to pastuerization temperatures is, in my own opinion, the only honey that anyone should buy and store for long term needs. The nutritional and healing value of it cannot be found in store bought products. If you would, please pass this information on to all of your family, friends and customers so that they will know and will feel secure in storing honey for long term. It has to be 100% raw, strained (not filtered), dried to less than 18% moisture content and unheated to levels of pastuerization to remain good indefinitely.

Most local farmers markets will have someone who sells their honey directly from the hive and is aware of the proper handling of raw honey for the best long term storage. Before buying from them I would ask them how they handle and package their honey.

I have included for you a link to a very informative article which exposes the true nature of store bought honey. Please feel free to pass it along so others will know.

Blessings In the Lord,
Kim Hindman