What is Raw Honey? Understanding the Golden Elixir

Oh, do you mean liquid gold, ambrosia of the gods, nature’s perfect syrup? (Clearly, we’re big fans of raw honey.) The natural sweetener known as raw, pure honey is an almost magical food. The regular honey you’ll find at grocery stores doesn’t have half the benefits of true natural honey. 

In this article, we’ll explain what raw honey really is, the benefits of raw honey, and the kinds of honey you should be looking for. Truth bee told, there is no food quite like high-quality wildflower honey straight from the beehive. Read on to learn more!

The Sweet Beginning: What is Raw Honey?

There are many types of honey, but there are two main categories that most types fit into. They are:

  • Commercial honey: This type of honey is made in bulk and sold to mass consumers in large markets; think of your local Target or Walgreens. It includes most pasteurized honey (honey that undergoes an unnecessary pasteurization process, eliminating many helpful antioxidants) and processed honey (honey that has additives like extra sweeteners or flavorings). 
  • Raw honey: This is honey that is unchanged from hive to bottle. It may go through a filtration process to separate the honeycomb. Types of raw honey include organic honey, unfiltered honey, manuka honey, and more. 

Raw honey is as the honeybees made it. It’s fresh and pure and perfectly delicious. Plus, this form of honey maintains all its wonderful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, making it totally safe to eat. 

Fun fact: Honey has no true expiration date. That’s right, honey has a shelf life of forever (if properly bottled and cared for). This means that the pasteurization of honey is truly excessive. 

From Hive to Home: The Journey of Raw Honey

This is one of our favorite topics. The phrase ‘busy as a bee’ exists for a reason. Honeybees are one of nature’s hardest workers! The process starts in early spring when bees begin to build combs with beeswax and collect nectar from flowers. Nectar is then capped in the honeycombs and will ripen, creating lovely liquid honey. 

Bee colonies use this liquid as food and warmth through the winter months. However, most hives produce dozens of pounds of excess honey every year. This is the liquid that bee handlers harvest. 

The art of honey harvesting is a carefully practiced method honed by generations of dedicated beekeepers. A bee handler will remove a frame that contains 90% capped, ripe honey and use a knife or special uncapper to remove the wax caps. The frames are usually placed in an extractor, which is spun to release the honey. The liquid is then filtered to get out excess wax and propolis

The honey is then bottled and labeled. Easy as pie! This method of honey capturing involves minimal processing, helping to maintain honey’s natural goodness. 

Nature’s Palette: The Unique Characteristics of Raw Honey

Raw honey doesn’t just differ from commercial honey in the harvesting process. There are oodles of other differences, such as:

  • Raw Honey Profile: Pure honey may differ in appearance between batches and generally have a creamier texture. The flavor is outstanding, with notes of caramel and floral varieties. 
  • Seasonal Differences: Honey harvested in spring is made with nectar that isn’t as sweet, giving you a lighter taste and appearance. Honey harvested in summer and fall is made with sugary nectar, giving you a darker, richer taste and appearance. 
  • Floral Differences: Different plants have different nectar and will create honey with diverse palettes. For example, organic wildflowers will give you organic honey, and honey made with specific flowers may taste like that species smells. 

Honey products can clearly vary a lot, making it exciting to buy raw honey. Check out your local honey suppliers (often found at farmers’ markets) and discover what fun kinds of local honey are made near you. 

A Spoonful of Wellness: The Health Benefits

Honey is a powerhouse food offering many health benefits and unique properties. It’s the ideal sweetener, too. 

Naturally bottled honey contains helpful enzymes for digestion and body function. The bee pollen left in honey can help those with allergies acclimate to their local environment. Raw honey has delightful anti-inflammatory properties and can even be used for wound healing! 

Plus, the nutritional value of honey makes it a health-conscious alternative to sugar and corn syrup, lowering your risk of heart disease and helping you reach your health goals. 

Here’s the nutritional data that you need: 

Nutrition DataSugarHoney
Serving Sizeper 100 gramsper 100 grams
Calories387 calories304 calories
Carbohydrates100 grams82.4 grams
Sugar99.8 grams82.1 grams
Fiber0.0 grams0.2 grams
Protein0.0 grams0.3 grams
Fat0.0 grams0.0 grams

It’s pretty apparent that honey is the superior ingredient by a long shot. 

Beyond the Hive: Incorporating Raw Honey into Your Lifestyle

New beekeepers and honey connoisseurs are often overwhelmed by their honey surplus. Never fear! You can use honey in a myriad of ways. 

It can be an excellent ingredient in your favorite recipes, a natural preservative, or a helpful home remedy. Below are some of our favorite ways to use honey, but remember, there are lots of ways you can incorporate raw honey into your daily life. 

Use it in your coffee. Honey is an ideal sugar replacement. The best method is scooping a spoonful of honey into your hot coffee (or tea!) and stirring until it dissolves. 

Make honeycomb candy. This is a delectable treat that’s super easy to make. You’ll need the following ingredients and materials:

  • One baking sheet lined with parchment
  • One (4-quart) pot
  • Silicon spatula
  • Digital thermometer
  • One tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups of white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • One teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Pour your sugar, honey, and salt into a large pot and heat to 295 F, stirring for about 3-5 minutes until it turns brown. Turn off the heat and immediately add the vanilla extract and baking soda. The mixture will foam up quite a bit; just continue stirring until the baking soda completely dissolves. Next, pour the mixture onto a sheet of parchment and pan. Allow it to cool completely before breaking, about 10 minutes. 

Cure your sore throat. Honey is a great soothing liquid for a sore throat. You can take it by the spoonful (yummy) or use it in a honey lemon tea. Simply mix fresh lemon, honey, and a mild tea and chug. 

Join the Sweet Revolution with West River Exchange

It’s evident that raw honey is the superior sweetener, far outpacing commercial honey in terms of taste and health benefits. 

Explore raw honey options from local sources like West River Exchange. We’re dedicated to encouraging and harvesting quality honey using only sustainable practices. 

We know that happy bees make for delicious honey. For all our beekeepers out there, we also offer stellar package bees for sale in Ohio, beekeeping equipment, and expert resources. We’re here to support local beekeepers and our community, offering premier products and top-tier education. 

Get started on this exciting bee journey today!