Honey is probably the oldest sweetener known to man. Its use predates recorded history and has been found in the Egyptian pyramids. It's typically sweeter than granulated sugar by a factor of 25%-40% depending upon the specific flowers from which the bees gather their nectar. This means a smaller amount of honey can give the same amount of sweetening as sugar. The source flowers also dictate the flavor and the color of the sweetener as well. Honey color can range from very dark (nearly black) to almost colorless. As a general rule, the lighter the color and the more delicate the flavor, the greater the price the honey will bring. As you might expect, since honey is sweeter than table sugar, it also has more calories as well -- an average of 22 per teaspoon compared to granulated sugar's 16 per teaspoon. There are also trivial amounts of minerals and vitamins in the bee product while white sugar has none.
Although the chance is remote, raw honey may also contain minute quantities of Clostridium botulinum spores and should not be fed to children under one year of age. PLEASE READ THE POST FROM GERI GUIDETTI CONCERNING THIS BELOW. Raw honey is OK for older children and adults. Honey is not a direct substitute for table sugar however, its use in recipes may call for a bit of alteration to get it to turn out right.
Honey comes in a number of forms in the retail market and they all have different storage characteristics:
WHOLE-COMB: This is the bee product straight from the hive. It is the most unprocessed form in which honey comes, being found as large pieces of waxy comb floating in raw honey. The comb itself will contain many unopened honey cells.
RAW: This is unheated honey that has been removed from the comb. It may contain bits of wax, insect parts and other small detritus.
FILTERED: This is raw honey that has been warmed to make it more easy to filter out small particles and impurities. Other than being somewhat cleaner than raw honey it is essentially the same. Most of the trace amounts of nutrients remain intact.
LIQUID/PURE: This is honey that has been heated to higher temperatures to allow for easier filtering and to kill any microorganisms. Usually lighter in color, this form is milder in flavor, resists crystallization and generally clearer. It stores the best of the various forms of honey. Much of the trace amounts of vitamins, however, are lost.
SPUN or CRYSTALLIZED: This honey has had some of its moisture content removed to make a creamy spread. It is the most processed form of honey.
Much of the honey sold in supermarkets has been blended from a variety of different honeys and some may have even had other sweeteners added as well. Like anything involving humans, buying honey can be a tricky business. It pays to deal with individuals and brands you know you can trust. In the United States you should buy products labeled U.S. GRADE A or U.S. FANCY if buying in retail outlets. However, be aware there are no federal labeling laws governing the sale of honey, so only honey labeled pure is entirely honey and not blended with other sweeteners. Honey grading is a matter of voluntary compliance which means some producers may be lax and sloppy about it. This can be a real nuisance when producers use words like "organic", "raw", "uncooked" and "unfiltered" on their labels, possibly to mislead. Fortunately, most honey producers are quite honest in their product labeling so if you're not certain of who to deal with, it is worthwhile to ask around to find out who produces a good product.
Honey may also contain trace amounts of drugs used in treating various bee ailments, including antibiotics. If this is a concern to you, then it would be wise to investigate with your local honey producer what has been used.
Honey is much easier to store than to select and buy. Pure honey won't mold, but may crystallize over time. Exposure to air and moisture can cause color to darken and flavor to intensify and may speed crystallization as well. Comb honey doesn't store as well liquid honey so you should not expect it to last as long.
Storage temperature is not as important for honey, but it should be kept from freezing and not exposed to high temperatures if possible. Either extreme can cause crystallization and heat may cause flavor to strengthen undesirably.
Filtered liquid honey will last the longest in storage. Storage containers should be opaque, airtight, moisture and odor-proof. Like any other stored food, honey should be rotated through the storage cycle and replaced with fresh product.
If crystallization does occur, honey can be reliquified by placing the container in a larger container of hot water until it has melted.
Avoid storing honey near heat sources and if using plastic pails don't keep it near petroleum products (including gasoline/diesel engines), chemicals or any other odor-producing products.
D.2.3 RAW HONEY AND BOTULISM
From: Geri Guidetti email@example.com
Duane Miles wrote:
If I recall correctly, honey contains very, very small amounts of the bacteria
that cause botulism. For adults, this seldom causes problems. Our immune system
is capable of dealing with small numbers of even nasty bacteria, they do it all
the time. The problem is when we get large numbers of bacteria,
or when our immune system is damaged or not yet developed.
That is where the problem with honey comes in. Some people used to use honey
to sweeten milk or other foods for infants. Infants immune systems
sometimes cannot handle the bacteria that cause botulism, and, of course,
those infants became seriously ill. So pediatricians now advise strongly
against using honey for children under a certain age.
Yes, raw honey can contain the temperature resistant spores of Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism. The organism is a strict anaerobe, meaning that it only grows in the absence of molecular oxygen. The problem with infants and honey is that the small, intestinal tract of an infant apparently is sufficiently anaerobic to allow the spores to germinate into actively growing C. botulinum organisms. Essentially, the infant serves the same role as a sealed, airtight, contaminated can of beans as far as the organisms are concerned. There in the infant's body the bacteria secrete the dangerous toxin that causes the symptoms of botulism. There have been quite a few documented infant deaths due to honey. As I recall, the studies identifying honey as the source were done in the '80s. Most pediatricians recommend no honey for the first year. It is probably best to check with your own for even later updates...Geri Guidetti, The Ark Institute
The advice not to give raw honey or foods containing raw honey to infants under one year of age still stands. Do please understand, though, that honey is not the *only* means by which infants can suffer from botulism, in many of which cases no certain source of contagion could ever be determined. The actual chances of any infant being stricken is actually very, very small but keeping the child's colon open, active and healthy can reduce it even more. Breastfed children seem to be more resistant as well.
D.2.4 HONEY OUTGASSING
Q: My can of honey is bulging. Is it safe to use?
A: Honey can react with the can lining to release a gas especially when stored over a long period of time. Honey's high sugar content prevents bacteria growth. If there is no sign of mold growth, it is safe to eat. FREQUENTLY ASKED FOOD QUESTIONS, FN250
Misc.Survivalism FAQs maintained by Alan T. Hagan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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