Will eating local honey help with my allergies?

On this topic, we defer to the opinion of the National Honey Board, which says the following:

There are anecdotal stories of people claiming relief from allergies by eating local honey, but we are not aware of any scientific evidence to support these claims. This subject is somewhat controversial since some experts claim that the kinds of pollens that are the greatest cause of allergies are smaller windblown pollens that are not typically found in honey.

This topic is also covered on the website of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s here.

What’s in honey?

The primary components of honey are the simple sugars (monosaccharides) glucose and fructose. The third greatest component is water. Honey also contains numerous other types of naturally occurring sugars, as well as acids, proteins, and minerals.

Honey also contains a variety of dietary antioxidant compounds. The amount and type depend largely on the floral source/variety of the honey. Generally, darker honeys are higher in antioxidant content than lighter honeys.

Bees introduce small amount of enzymes into honey during various phases of their manufacturing process. While the amount of particular enzymes present can vary widely across honey varieties, the types of enzymes are fairly uniform. The predominant enzymes are diastase (amylase), invertase, and glucose oxidase. catalase, acid phosphatase and other enzymes are generally present in lesser amounts.

Is filtered honey still “real” honey?

Honey is filtered to remove all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials that are suspended in the honey. This increases the time that honey can be stored on the shelf before beginning its natural crystallization process.

Because honey is made by bees from flower and plant nectars, and not from pollen, the absence of pollen from filtered honey doesn’t make it any less “real” or natural. And it doesn’t reduce any of the proven benefits of consuming honey.

You can read more detailed information about this in our Honey Filtration Facts blog post.

Why isn’t honey safe for infants?

Infant botulism is a rare but serious paralytic disease caused by the microorganism Clostridium botulinum. Spores of C. botulinum are widely distributed in nature. They can be found in soil, dust, the air, and raw agricultural products including honey.

Children and adults with normal intestinal microflora are able to ingest these spores without harm, but infants are susceptible to them until their intestinal microflora develop.

The National Honey Board and other organizations recommend that honey not be fed to infants under one year of age.

Can I substitute honey for sugar in baking?

Absolutely. Honey adds a unique earthiness to baked goods that makes sugar seem bland in comparison. It also balances and enhances other flavors, and it gives bakers an opportunity to select a unique honey varietal that accentuates their specific flavor objectives.

For more information and tips, visit our blog post on How to Substitute Honey for Sugar in Baking.

How should I store honey?

Honey should be stored at room temperature and never subjected to extreme heat or cold.

Honey contains approximately 18.6% moisture.  All honey at some point in time will granulate depending on the nectar source and storage conditions.  To reliquefy the honey, place the container in a pan of water and simmer approximately 20 minutes or until soft. Never microwave honey.

Over time honey will darken if exposed to ultraviolet light. This does not affect the taste.

We suggest consuming honey within three years of its production to ensure quality.

Where does honey come from?

Honey is made by bees, who extract sweet nectar from plants and deposit into honeycombs in a hive set up by a beekeeper. The beekeeper then removes the honeycombs from the hive, extracts the nectar (now honey), and sends it to a bottler like Burleson’s for packaging and distribution.

For more detailed information about how nectar from plants ends up as honey on your table, visit our Where Honey Comes From blog post.

Why is honey so sweet?

In most honeys, fructose predominates and tends to make honey taste slightly sweeter than sugar. On average, honey is 1 to 1.5 times sweeter (on a dry-weight basis) than sugar.

Why does honey crystallize?

Honey crystallization is a natural process. In its typical liquid form, honey is a “supersaturated” solution, meaning that there is a much higher sugar content (more than 70%) than water content (often less than 20%).

Glucose, a simple sugar and one of the primary components of honey, tends to precipitate out of this solution, changing it to a more stable saturated state. The effect of this separation is that the honey granulates or crystallizes into a semi-solid state.

What do honey “grades” mean?

Since 1985, the USDA has set voluntary standards for extracted honey based upon water content, flavor and aroma, clarity, and absence of defects.

Grade A honey meets the most stringent of these standards, while the requirements for Grade B and Grade C honey are broader.