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What is raw honey and how to use it?

what is raw honey and how to use it

Today, I thought we’d talk a little about honey. We have several hives here on our property and Gabriel (16) is the beekeeper in the family. In addition to selling the honey, he also has a bee removal business. I tell you that to let you know that I am not the beekeeper. I’m not an expert on beekeeping. I’ve read many books on bees, beekeeping and honey. I’ve talked to Gabriel a lot about the things I’ve read and gotten more information from him. All of that to say, we’re on a journey and here’s some things we’ve learned.

uncapping raw honey

What is Raw Honey?

Raw honey is honey minus the comb (or maybe with the comb). The National Honey Board has this to say, “While there is no official definition of “raw” honey, it generally means honey that has not been heated or filtered.” I’m here to tell you that if honey has not been heated or filtered, there will probably be some bulk to the honey. It won’t be like syrup. It might (probably will) chrystalize quickly and it may even have some wax cappings in it.

When you buy honey at the store, it’s been pasturized which means it’s been heated up to over 160 degrees. Commerical honey producers do this for several reasons. It reduces the possibility of the honey crystalizing, it kills yeast which could lead to fermentation and (this is what most honey producers don’t mention) heating the honey makes filtering go so much faster. Most of our food system is based on looks and quantity. So this makes a lot of sense for those large scale honey producers.

The problem with this is that the benefitial baterial and microbes are destroyed at 140 degrees. That means that although pasturized honey is fine as a sweetener, it no longer has it’s medicinal benefits.

*A note about fermentation – Fermentation will happen whenever moisture gets into raw honey. There is often yeast in the pollen and when the moisture content rises above 18% the yeast can multiply. So, you’ll want to keep you honey in an airtight jar (like a canning jar) and not double dip your teaspoon. For the most part fermenting honey is just fine, it just has a stronger flavor.

You probably won’t find raw honey in a store. If you do find some labeled “raw”, I suggest calling the company and asking about how they process their honey to determine if it’s raw enough for you. Your best bet for finding raw honey is asking around for a local beekeeper or raising your own.

jarred raw honey

How to use Raw Honey

Sweetener – Honey makes a great sweetener as it’s sweeter than sugar so you use less. If you have limited access to raw honey I would suggest not using it in things liked baked goods that are heated above 140 degrees.

Wound Care Because honey has both antibaterial and antifungal properties it makes a great salve for cuts, scrapes and sunburns. I’ve even read that some people use it on their acne.

Allergies If the raw honey is local to you, it can be used to help with seasonal allergies…maybe. You need to make sure the honey was made during the time that whatever you are allergic to was blooming. If a beekeeper harvests several times a year this is something to ask about. If he only harvests once a year it’s not an issue. Also, you need to take a teaspoon (both morning and night) for several months to see benefit. So this is something you will need to do BEFORE you start having allergy symptoms.

Cough Suppressant – Honey makes a great cough suppressant and sore throat soother, especially when added to warm lemon water.

Anti-inflamation – A teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar make a great combination to help with inflamation or arthritis.

Indigestion Relief – Raw honey can also be used to help with indigestion. I wish I would have known this when I was pregnant with Esther.

My friends from Spring Mountain Living are giving away some Mohawk Valley Trading Company Raw Honey. You can enter below.

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Shaheen

Monday 27th of June 2016

Thank you for the info. I live in a major city where its hard to find raw honey or a beekeeper, which honey would you recommend from a grocery store or supermarket ?

Angi Schneider

Tuesday 28th of June 2016

Hi Shaheen, that's a tough question. For sure I'd look for a honey that is from the US (I'm assuming you live in the US. If not, then from the country where you live.) I've seen honey in our local grocery store that is a "product of USA, Brazil, China, Mexico" all mixed up together. I would never recommend buying that. If there was a honey that said 'raw" on the label, that's the one I'd probably buy, even though I know that "raw" isn't a regulated word for honey.

Does your city have a farmer's market? If so, that would be a great place to start looking for raw honey. Farmers usually have a great network of people that are involved in all levels of agriculture. Another option is to contact your local county extension office and ask if there are any beekeepers in your area. We used to purchase from a beekeeper we found through a local farmer. I'd buy a couple of gallons at a time so I wouldn't have to drive out there more than twice a year.

Hope that helps.

Shaheen

Sunday 26th of June 2016

Raw honey is good, but would you want to eat the debri as well ? perhaps broken off pieces of bees wings, legs, tail, tentacles ? debri from flowers like flower hair ? petals ? etc, etc ?

Angi Schneider

Sunday 26th of June 2016

We do filter ours through a mesh screen that catches all the big debris but won't filter out the smaller debris like the pollen which is super beneficial. It is still raw because it's not been heated and the pollen is still in it. When commercial honey producers filter their honey, the heat it up so it will filter faster through mesh that is so fine it will filter out the pollen. This helps the honey to have a more consistent taste which their customers want. The debris you mentioned certainly won't hurt you but everyone needs to do what they are comfortable with.

Sue D

Saturday 8th of March 2014

I would like to try it in my granola recipe.

Amie

Saturday 8th of March 2014

Okay great to know! Thank you for your reply. I just happened upon your blog and love it!

Amie

Friday 7th of March 2014

I always purchase local, raw honey and was never told anything about fermentation. This concerns me since I am the only one in my home that eats the honey and the jar always lasts a while. How do I know if it is still safe to eat? At what point should I throw it out.

Angi Schneider

Saturday 8th of March 2014

Amie, just because it can ferment doesn't mean it will. We live in a very humid climate and rarely have it ferment. We make sure that we keep our honey covered with it's lid and we don't EVER double dip. We had a friend whose honey did ferment and when I questioned her about what she was doing she said that she puts the spoon she stirs her tea with back into the honey jar to if she needs more since she's the only one who eats it. That's a no-no. People actually make a wine out of fermented honey. I'm sure your honey will be just fine until you finish the jar. My point in mentioning fermenting honey in my post is that it's one of the reasons that commercial honey producers use to justify pasturizing their honey. Hope that helps.