Raw honey is harvested directly from the hive and never heated above the warmest temperature of the hive (approx. 100 degrees F). It is filtered to remove wax and debris and later bottled. Raw honey eventually crystallizes. Honeys from different sources crystallize at different rates. All honey will eventually crystallize. There is nothing wrong with it – gently heating it in a pan of warm water will restore it to liquid form, though it is still usable in crystal form. Many national honey brands are blends and have been heated and filtered to achieve uniform color and to retard crystallization. Some have even had the pollen filtered out of it, rendering it a poor cousin to the intact pollen and rich flavors of local raw honeys.
Creamed honey is 100% honey that has been encouraged to crystallize to a smaller, smoother crystal form than occurs naturally. This is done by using a “starter” of already creamed honey and mixing it thoroughly into a batch of liquid honey. It is then bottled and stored at a cool temperature to allow it to crystallize. The finished product is a smooth, spreadable no-drip delicious honey.
Honey Colors and Tastes
Honey comes in different colors depending on the main source of nectar the bees are feeding on. Early spring honey can be extremely light in color, while honey harvested in the fall can be dark and almost opaque. These honeys also taste markedly different. Even honey from the same hive can taste different from year to year and spring to fall. Many people prefer the more robust flavor of the fall harvested honey. Honey is similar to wine in that the concept of “terroir” (from the French word meaning the unique set of environmental factors that account for a particular harvest year’s flavor) affects the flavor of the honey.