How to Make Creamed Honey
It is easy to mistake creamed honey. It has the whitish hue of cream and spreads like butter. Yet, this type of honey – which is also often called whipped honey – has no cream and is not ‘whipped’ like you would say of a milkshake.
It is pure honey treated to look creamy. The creaminess is achieved from careful, controlled crystallization of the honey to achieve uniformly tiny crystals. The defining point here is that crystallization occurs naturally in all honey but is usually uneven and has large crystals that make the honey look messy. In fact most people mistakenly think such crystallized honey is spoilt because of its unattractive look.
The science involved is simple. All types of honey consists mostly of two types of natural sugars, glucose and fructose. Crystallization happens as a result of glucose molecules combining with water molecules, which means honey with higher content of glucose crystallizes faster
But how is the uniformly creamy look achieved? Through three, fairly straightforward but also delicate steps:
- Filtering honey: The first step of making creamed honey is filtering. That is the removal of any particles or ‘impurities’ in the honey. Heating may also be used although heating destroys most of the natural pollen in the honey.
- Seeding raw honey with crystals: The secondly step is add a little, already crystallized, honey. The idea is to ‘seed’ the new honey with a little dose of already crystallized honey so as to provoke crystallization of the entire amount. That additional honey is typically about a tenth of the amount of the filtered new honey and may be taken from previously creamed honey. It could also be a sample of raw honey that has crystallized on its own – as long as it has small crystals.
- Making Creamed honey: The final step is to mix the honey continuously, preferably using a mixer. The mixing allows all the seed crystals to spread all through the rest of the honey. For best results, the mixture should be stirred several times in 20 minutes intervals and then left to crystallize over about 12 hours. The result: whitish, smooth, creamed honey.
Common Mistakes in Making Creamed Honey
It is surprisingly easy to get the process of making creamed honey wrong. The first problem is that raw honey does crystallize naturally after a while. Depending of the type of flowers from which the nectar was drawn, some types of honey may crystallize while still in the honeycombs while others can take weeks or even months. But the crystals are rarely fine or small enough to make good ‘seeds’ for creamed milk. It is necessary therefore to ensure you use finely crystallized honey as your crystal seeds.
Another problem is the bubbles that are released as the honey crystallizes. The bubbles can turn into foam, which might look unpleasant to some people, just as it may be perfectly appetizing to others. Depending on your taste, you might have to skim off the foam and keep stirring longer to ensure all the bubbles escape.
Also, honey shrinks after crystallization – because crystallization involves lose of water – which makes the creamed honey to appear as if it has pulled away from its container, especially if it is in a jar. Some of your guests may be put off by that look. Refilling any container of crystallized honey before serving your guests takes care of the problem.
The visual and packaging problem is more complicated if you intend to sell the creamed honey because it will shrink while already packaged in jars. The usual trick is to ensure you use wrappings of jars to hind the shrinkage.
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