My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Proverbs 24:13
I had a love-hate relationship, during my childhood, with our honey-bear. When its honey flowed-freely, smothering oven-hot, butter-slathered, corn-muffins, it was love at first squeeze.
But when the liquid honey came to a halt, seized into rock-hard crystals deep within the bear's belly, things turned ugly.
My father and brothers took turns, "Here, lemme try", jabbing a bread 'n butter knife into the bear's innards. My mother, "Oh, for heaven's sake!", always came to the rescue.
We never tired of watching her coax the solid mass back into a pourable liquid, swirling the bear's plastic bottom in a bowl of hot tap-water.
I didn't realize until many years later, that the rock-hard honey-bear honey was high-glucose and raw! Raw! That was the reason it was cloudy, and seized into rock-hard crystals!
Eventually, the honey-industry decided to do consumers a "favor", heat-treating honey so it would no longer solidify. In reality, the honey-industry benefited the most because the once-living, now-dead honey, remained shelf-stable, perpetually clear and pourable. Bottles of already-crystallized honey, weren't big sellers.
If I Had Known Then, What I Know Now...
Instead of destroying precious nutrients through pasteurization, a better option is to control the natural crystallization process.
According to the September 1913, issue of the National Geographic Magazine, T. M. Davis, an American explorer, discovered a jar of 3,300 year-old honey when excavating the tomb of Queen Tyi's parents. The honey was partially liquid, its aroma preserved in its hermetically (airtight, like the Pickl-It) sealed jar.
Our honey producers should find in this discovery an inducement to pack their honey in air-tight containers. - Health Benefits of Honey
Nothing New Under the Sun...
My great-grandmother spread creamed honey on her morning toast, topping it off with a shake of cinnamon & sugar. In thinking back, I think she would have been miffed by perpetually-liquid honey. Creamed honey, in her world, was normal and to be expected.
With a little marketing spin, fancy packaging, and added flavors, creamed honey has become a hot-ticket item - artisanal and fairly high-priced - commanding prices of $3 to $10 more per pound than its original liquid version, all for a product that would have created anyway, in order to preserve the season's honey harvest.
Making your own creamed honey is cost-effective. Carefully follow our tips, and you'll soon see the advantage of buying and preserving large-quantities of liquid-honey.
While flavored creamed honey is wonderful - thyme, oregano, cinnamon, garlic and ginger; the possibilities are endless - we have found it is best to create a plain batch, later adding spices or herbs to smaller portions.
We do not recommend this recipe for mason-jars, as mason jars will never be "airtight" unless heat-processed in a canning bath. Heat-treatment defeats the goal of creating a healthy, nutrient-dense food, because canning is death to living food.
Pickl-It Creamed Honey Recipe
The following are required for this recipe:
- Use only raw honey - the only way you'll know with absolute certainty is to find an honest beekeeper, not at all difficult.
- Use only high-glucose honey; your local beekeeper will be the most reliable and knowledgeable source.
- Choose a "seed" or "starter", explained below in the first two steps.
- Use a Pickl-It to restrict moisture and oxygen, protecting the honey and releasing fermentation gases
If you buy heat-treated honey, or high-fructose honey, your honey will never crystallize into a creamy-texture.
You need a "seed" or a "starter". There are two choices:
First, verify the quality of your creamed honey, first by determining if your existing creamed honey (which you may have purchased from a local beekeeper or a chain-style grocery or health-food store) was made with dextrose, or from pure honey powder, ground from crystallized raw honey.
People with digestive or gluten-issues often have a difficult time digesting dextrose, so we recommend avoiding it. If you discover your creamed honey was created from 100% pure honey powder, move on to Step #2. If not, find a small source of properly-made creamed honey.
Second, taste the creamed honey. There shouldn't be any grit or sand-like texture. The texture should be smooth and silky on the tongue.
Your final creamed honey will ONLY be as good as your creamed-honey starter, so please don't skip the tasting step.
Crystallized Honey Powder
If you happen to have a 1972 (they didn't use BPA back then) honey bear packed with rock-hard, honey-crystals like the ones my family tried to pry loose, you're in luck!
Or, maybe you or a relative or friend, have a forgotten-jar of honey in the back of your cabinet, like the one in the photo on the right. Over time, it's free-flowing liquid has turned into large crystals.
Honey powder, ground from rock-sized honey crystals is the favorite, time-honored method of seeding liquid honey, coaxing it toward small crystallization which results in creamed honey.
Grind the crystals into a fine powder, using a food processor or blender.
Important Note on Honey Color: Take a look at the color of the still-liquid honey - a dark, mahogany. If this was the original color of the honey (like buckwheat honey), then the honey is probably safe to eat.
If the original color was much lighter, then this dark color may signal damage, a result of being subjected to temperature extremes.
Honey that has shifted from a very light, to a very dark honey may be at risk of contamination from a naturally-occurring toxin, HMF. Europeans have stringent HMF standards and ban contaminated honey. The US of A has no such monitoring or standards.
1:9 Ratio Starter:Honey
Using the starter-of-your-choice - either already-creamed honey (#1) or powdered honey (#2), weigh 1-part of your chosen starter-culture to 9-parts of unfiltered, liquid, raw, high-glucose honey.
Do not measure; but instead, weigh your ingredients.
Pour the Honey and Starter Into The Pickl-It
Gently, slowly, stir the starter into your liquid honey, being careful to NOT whip or stir air into the honey. Oxygen is destructive to raw honey, and may introduce pathogenic microbes, as well as humidity that destroys honey.
I prefer using a wood spoon when stirring my honey. Some people prefer using blender-sticks on low-speed. Others, who create large batches (1-gallon or more at a time), purchase a new paint-blender attachment for their power drill, dedicating it to honey-stirring-only.
Stir for 2-5 minutes, depending on the amount. Mix longer on larger quantities of honey; less for smaller. The most critical point, again, is to AVOID introducing oxygen into the honey.
Latch the Pickl-It Closed
Place 1 1/2 tablespoon of water in the Pickl-It airlock
Place Pickl-It Into Storage
Place the container in a dark corner of your cool basement or garage. Do not store the honey in the refrigerator, as it is too cold, inhibiting crystallization.
The ideal storage temperature for creating creamed honey, is 52-59°F (11-15°C).
Check the honey's progress at 7 days. You may see a few bubbles forming on the top layer; the honey's color should be streaked - some layers of light mixed with layers of darker honey. Some describe the colors as "cloudy". There may even be a thin, light-colored layer - a crust - forming on the top of the honey.
Each batch of raw, unfiltered honey differs in its composition, so not all of these indicators may occur.
What you should definitely see is that your clear, liquid honey is no longer see-through, doesn't freely-flow, and has a soft taffy-like texture.
When is Your Honey Done?
When you tip the Pickl-It upside-down (over a sink, please, and please remove the Pickl-It lid and airlock) and your honey doesn't budge, it is "set", as the British call it, or "creamed".
Small batches of creamed honey - those meant for short-term use - may be stored at a stable, constant room temperature. Temperatures that exceed 90°F, or that wildly-fluctuate, may liquefy the creamed honey.
For 2-3 year storage of your creamed honey, it is best to store the honey at temperatures below 50°F (10°C). You may refrigerate and even freeze your creamed honey. Freezing, however, will change the texture, but it will not destroy the nutritional value or flavor.
Raw, creamed honey is a living-food, and will continue to produce fermentation gases, so long-term storage in a Pickl-It - a closed, hermetic system like that used by ancient cultures - provides the best vessel for automatic release of fermentation gases, while protecting your honey from oxygen.
Other Articles in this Series:
* Choose Local Honey - Questions for interviewing local beekeepers
* Honey Storage Tips - Helpful tips
* Honey Gone Good; Honey Gone Bad - Case studies of various honey-storage methods
* Not Just Any Honey Will Do - Raw honey
Handy honey information - Monitor the color of your stored honey, whether raw/liquid or creamed. Storing at room temperatures above 70F may result in the formationo f HMF, a naturally-occurring toxin that is monitored in Europe, but not America.
What's In Your Honey? Maybe Chemical Fumigants Used to Control the Wax Moth - Several chemical fumigants effectively used in the past are aluminum phosphide, methyl bromide, ethylene dibromide (EDB) and paradichlorobenzene (PDB). Unfortunately, only two (aluminmum phosphide and PDB) remain legal, but their future is in doubt. The chances are good, therefore, that beekeepers will be left without any means to chemically control wax moth.)
HMF Breaks Down in Heated High Fructose Corn Syrup - it only takes temperatures of 120°F
Kinetics of Hydroxmethlfurfural (HMF) Accumulation and Color Change in Honey During Storage - A naturally-occurring enzyme in honey, Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), which increases when honey is exposed to heat, goes hand-in-hand with the color-change, verifying a reduction in the honey's overall quality. Unfortunately, this isn't a home-test, but instead, one used by the honey-industry to maintain quality.
Hydroxymethylfurfural is not good for bees - Important to consider is that HMF is considered toxic to honey bees who are fed high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a common practice by some beekeepers. HFCS is a heated-product, and should be completely avoided by those who wish to maintain a healthy diet.
|by Kathleen in Recipes | Permalink|
Did you know...
The Chinese fermentation jar, with a cover that fits into a water-filled moat to exclude air, has been in home use for over 2,000 years. – J.O. Mundt, J. L. Collins, and J. F. Darrow, Tennessee Farm Home Science Progress Report, July 19, 1976
—Pickl-It, The New Chinese Fermentation Jar
Wow, this website has enough information, I feel as though I’m taking a college class. Great job, Kathleen.
—Colleen Geary, Massachusettes