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A Comprehensive Guide to the Classification of Honey

Classification of Honey
Honey can be classified based on various factors such as floral source, packaging and processing methods, regional origin, color, and optical density. Here’s an overview of each classification:

Classification By Floral Source

Generally, honey is classified by the floral source of the nectar from which it was made.

Flower Nectars

Honeys can be
A. specific types of flower nectars

Monofloral honey is derived predominantly from the nectar of a single type of flower or plant. Bees collect nectar from the blossoms of a specific floral source, resulting in honey that carries the distinct flavor, aroma, and color associated with that particular flower.

Polyfloral honey, also known as wildflower honey or multifloral honey, is produced by bees that collect nectar from a variety of flowers and plants. Unlike monofloral honey, polyfloral honey is a blend of nectar from different floral sources. This diversity in nectar contributes to a more generalized flavor profile and a mixture of aromas.

B. can be blended after collection.
Most commercially available honey is a blend of two or more honeys differing in floral source, color, flavor, density, or geographic origin.

Floral Source

The presence of pollen in honey allows for traceability to both floral source and consequently, the region of origin. Different floral sources result in distinct flavors, aromas, and colors of honey.

Moreover, the rheological and melissopalynological properties of honey serve as valuable indicators in identifying the primary plant nectar source utilized in its production. Melissopalynology is the study of pollen contained in honey and, in particular, the pollen’s source.

Honeydew Honey

Honeydew honey is a unique and distinctive type of honey that sets itself apart from traditional nectar honeys. Instead of collecting nectar from flowers, bees gather honeydew, which is the sweet secretions produced by aphids or other plant-sap-sucking insects. This alternative source gives honeydew honey its characteristic features.

This honey is distinguished by its very dark brown color, creating an intriguing visual appeal. Its rich fragrance is reminiscent of stewed fruit or fig jam, adding a complex and enticing aroma. Unlike nectar honeys, honeydew honey is not as sweet, offering a more nuanced and less intense sweetness.

Notable regions for honeydew honey production include Germany’s Black Forest, where this unique honey is particularly renowned. Other regions known for quality honeydew-based honeys include certain areas in Bulgaria, Tara in Serbia, and Northern California in the United States.
Buy California Honeydew Honey.

Honeydew

Classification By Processing

Honey, a sweet and natural product made by bees, is not just a single, uniform substance. It varies greatly in terms of flavor, texture, and nutritional value, based on how it’s processed after being extracted from the beehive.

This article will delve into the differences between raw honey and other types of processed honey, helping you understand and choose the right honey for your needs.

The choice between raw and processed honey depends on your intended use and health preferences. Raw honey offers more in terms of health benefits and complex flavors, making it ideal for medicinal use and as a sweetener in dishes where its flavor can shine.

Processed honey, on the other hand, is more suited for cooking and baking due to its uniformity and longer shelf life.

Prepared Honey

What Is Raw Honey?

Raw honey is honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining without adding heat. This type of honey is not pasteurized or processed.
This is as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining, without adding heat (although some honey that has been “minimally processed” is often labeled as raw honey). Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax.

Characteristics
Appearance. It is often cloudier than processed honey due to the presence of fine particles of pollen, beeswax, and propolis.
Nutritional Value. Rich in natural vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, raw honey retains its full medicinal properties.
Flavor and Texture. The flavor and texture can vary dramatically depending on the nectar source, but it generally has a more complex flavor profile than processed honey.

Uses
Medicinal. Often used for its health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
Culinary. Adds a unique flavor to dishes and beverages but should not be exposed to high heat to preserve its natural properties.

Raw Honey

What Is Processed Honey?

Processed honey refers to honey that has undergone some form of processing, often including pasteurization and filtration. This processing is done to extend shelf life, improve clarity, and delay crystallization.

Types of Processed Honey

Pasteurized honey has been heated in a pasteurization  process which requires temperatures of 72 °C (161 °F) or higher. Pasteurization destroys yeast cells. It also liquefies any microcrystals in the honey, which delays the onset of visible crystallization.

However, excessive heat exposure also results in product deterioration, as it increases the level of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and reduces enzyme (e.g. diastase) activity. Heat also darkens the honey, and affects taste and fragrance.

Processing. Heated at high temperatures to kill any yeast present and to liquefy any crystals, extending shelf life.

Characteristics. Clearer, smoother, and more uniform in appearance. Loses some nutritional value and beneficial enzymes during the heating process.

Processed Honey

Filtered honey of any type has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed. The process typically heats honey to 66–77 °C (150–170 °F) to more easily pass through the filter. Filtered honey is very clear and will not crystallize as quickly, making it preferred by supermarkets.

The most common method involves the addition of diatomaceous earth to honey that is heated to 60 °C (140 °F) and passed through filter paper or canvas until a filter cake of diatomaceous earth builds up on the filter.
Processing. Undergoes filtration to remove impurities like debris and air bubbles, so it remains liquid for a long time.
Characteristics. Very clear and smooth, but may lack the subtle flavors and aromas present in raw honey.

Ultra-Filtered Honey
Processing. Processed further to be very clear and smooth. It undergoes high-pressure filtration to remove all impurities, including pollen.
Characteristics. Extremely clear and has a longer shelf life, but lacks many of the health benefits of raw honey.

Creamed Honey
Processing. Finely crystallized to control the size of the crystals, resulting in a smooth, spreadable texture.
Characteristics. Creamy and rich, it spreads like butter at room temperature. The flavor can vary depending on the floral source.

Uses
Culinary. Due to its clear and smooth consistency, processed honey is often preferred for baking and cooking.
General Sweetening. Its uniform texture and taste make it suitable for sweetening tea, coffee, and other beverages.

Grading

Countries have differing standards for grading honey. In the US, honey grading is performed voluntarily based upon USDA standards. USDA offers inspection and grading “as on-line (in-plant) or lot inspection…upon application, on a fee-for-service basis.” Honey is graded based upon a number of factors, including water content, flavor and aroma, absence of defects, and clarity. Honey is also classified by color, though it is not a factor in the grading scale.

Grade A

Soluble solids ≥ 81.4%

Flavor and aroma
Good—”has a good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is free from caramelized flavor or objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”

Absence of defects
Practically free—”contains practically no defects that affect the appearance or edibility of the product”

Clarity
Clear — “may contain air bubbles which do not materially affect the appearance of the product and may contain a trace of pollen grains or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not affect the appearance of the product”

Grade B

Soluble solids ≥ 81.4%

Flavor and aroma
Reasonably good — “has a reasonably good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a reasonably good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is practically free from caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”

Absence of defects
Reasonably free — “may contain defects which do not materially affect the appearance or edibility of the product”

Clarity
Reasonably clear — “may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not materially affect the appearance of the product”

Grade C

Soluble solids ≥ 80.0%

Flavor and aroma 
Fairly good — “has a fairly good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a fairly good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is reasonably free from caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”

Absence of defects
Fairly free — “may contain defects which do not seriously affect the appearance or edibility of the product”

Clarity
Fairly clear — “may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not seriously affect the appearance of the product”

Grade D

Soluble solids
Fails Grade C

Flavor and aroma 
Fails Grade C

Absence of defects
Fails Grade C

Clarity
Fails Grade C

One comment

  1. Awesome! I always wanted to find out about the differences between different type of processed honey. Thank you for enlightening me on that!

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