We are often asked by customers what the difference is between raw honey and processed (store-bought) honey. The answer is usually quite simple and has to do with whether the honey has been heated.
Raw honey is not heated. Bees gather nectar and cap it in cells. Once all the cells in a frame are capped, it will be harvested by the beekeeper who uncaps the cells, and extracts the honey in a centrifuge. This honey is then strained to remove the wax particles and then immediately bottled. It comes right from the hive- what ever is in the hive… that’s what you get. Unprocessed- just the way the bees and nature intended. It’s loaded with enzymes and some amino acids.. and has some stray pollen too. The honey that we harvest and sell in our shop is never pasteurized or heated.
Unless honey is raw, it usually has been pasteurized. In other words heated to kill and bacteria or foreign bodies including yeast. Generally this is done by heating the honey to about 158 °F. I’ve always found this practice odd, since by its very nature honey is generally anti-microbial- in fact, in ancient times, honey was often put on wounds as an antibiotic for exactly this reason.
Heating the honey, from a healthfulness stand point, more or less destroys it. If heated too much, honey will caramelize and become very dark, in addition the honey contains numerous amino acids which are damaged or destroyed when heated. Of particular note the melanoidins play an important role in the darkness of the honey- at very high temperatures, acrylamide may form- probably not in a high enough dose to kill you… but still probably not something you want in your honey. In addition, heating honey destroys enzymes such as diastase and others.
In the raw honey vs processed honey debate we think raw honey wins hands down. Fresh from Loudoun, right to your table!