Considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, raw honey has approximately 20 vitamins, 18 amino acids, 16 minerals, and lots of antioxidants, phytonutrients and flavonoids.
Raw honey is remarkably long-lived. When archaeologist T.M. Davies opened an Egyptian tomb, he discovered a 3,300-year-old jar of honey still with its full aroma and very much edible.
What’s the secret to honey’s incredibly long shelf life -- so much so that ancient Egyptians expected it to last their entire afterlife? It may not sound appetizing, but technically speaking, honey is a product of the bees’ chemical digestive process involving enzymes which endow it with antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties. It is also acidic with a pH of about 3.5 with very low free water content, thus making it very difficult for micro-organisms to survive in it.
All these properties are found in raw, unadulterated honey, and it upsets me that most of the bottled honey we find in commercial establishments are processed. Unknown to most people, common supermarket honey has been strained, filtered, heated and pasteurized--stripping it of much of the enzymes, flavonoids, enzymes, fragrant volatiles, and particles of pollen and propolis that make raw honey the natural wonder that it is. It’s been said that pasteurization reduces honey to something no better than ordinary refined sugar. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. states that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and contains no pollen is no longer considered honey.
|Should the FDA allow processed honey to claim |
"healthful natural sweetness" and "best natural quality"?
Why do manufacturers process honey if it removes much of its health-giving advantages? It’s because over time, honey grows cloudy as the sugar crystallizes, but this doesn’t spoil the honey, and the sugar can be melted again over gentle heat. Unfortunately, most people don’t know this and think crystallization is a sign that the honey has “expired” or is no longer fit for consumption. Ultra-high heat treatment extends the “shelf life” of honey by keeping it from granulating. Meanwhile, the filtration process also makes it look prettier (raw honey won’t ever look as clear and smooth), whereas pasteurization removes any yeast cells and thus prevents fermentation when exposed to high moisture or warm temperatures.
If you want to get the full benefits of honey as nature had masterfully designed it, then make sure you put your money in the right kind of honey. Look for the raw kind, usually found in weekend organic markets. Properly stored, raw honey can keep indefinitely. Simply keep it in a cool location away from direct sunlight in a tightly-covered container. There’s no need to refrigerate. It’ll be easier to pour onto your oatmeal, fruits, or buttered toast if you keep it at room temperature.