Honey has many medicinal properties and is high in anti-oxidants. It is also man's oldest sweetener and an excellent substitute for sugar. Honey is an energy booster, an immunity builder and due to its antibacterial properties, is used as a natural remedy for a number of ailments.

However, the jars of golden liquid that you may have picked up from a grocery store near you may not be honey at all. It may just be a concoction of sugar syrup and jaggery or even be contaminated with antibiotics and heavy metals. Even if you are one of those people who only shop at organic stores, you maybe right about it being honey but it is a honey that is highly pasteurized and have no nutrients left in them.

You can use these as guidelines to check if your honey is as close to being pure.

  • Check the label. If the label states the name and contact details of an apiary (a place where bees are kept) close to home, you’ve likely to have the real thing in your hands. Also, labels that contain the presence of additives reveal fake honey.
  • Real honey crystallizes over time, while honey diluted with high-fructose corn syrup stays pourable forever.
  • Honey does not dissolve in water. Drop a teaspoon of honey in a cup of water and mix it gently, wait for a few minutes. Pure honey should remain as a solid lump at the bottom of the cup.
  • Taste it. Can you taste more than one flavor, like different flowers or herbs? That’s real honey. Fake honey only tastes sweet, with a little honey-like flavor. 
  • Honey should not get absorbed when dropped on blotting paper.
  • Pour honey on a piece of white cloth and wash it off. Pure honey does not leave any stains behind
  • Ants don't get attracted to honey. Due to its viscosity, ants must be able to walk over honey without any trouble
  • Dip a cotton ear bud in honey and light it with a match stick. Pure honey will burn while honey adulterated with water will not
  • Take a teaspoon of honey in a jar and invert it gently to let the honey to flow out. Natural honey flows continuously, while counterfeit honey flows in the form of drops.

As mentioned, please note that above tests are only guidelines and are not a definitive way to test the purity of honey. There are a number of varieties of honey and each reacts differently to the above tests. It is quite possible that real honey may fail one or more of these tests.

We always recommend you look for unpasteurized honey which is organically produced by a known and trusted source, carefully collected and packaged with good quality control and sanitary practices. Often, locally produced and seasonally appropriate honey is the safest. Also make sure that the jar of honey is carefully closed and remains airtight so that the moisture from the air will not mix with the honey.

Difference Between Pasteurized And Unpasteurized Honey

Even if you are sure that your honey is not fake, it will definitely be pasteurized. All packaged, commercial honey is always pasteurized. Pasteurization of honey is a process where the honey is heated to very high temperatures, which destroys the wealth of nutrients it had when fresh out of the hive. Also since honey is dense by nature, it’s often diluted with water and high-fructose corn syrup to make it flow freely. Its valuable pollen is taken out by forcing it through tiny filters. The result: a liquid that’s pretty to look at but is pretty much dead. The processing of honey often removes many of the phyto-nutrients found in raw honey as it exists in the hive.

Precautions With Honey

For infants below one year of age, it is recommended that they should not be given raw, unpasteurized honey or even pasteurized honey, unless the honey has been certified free of spores. Raw honey is a potential source of the Clostridium botulinum spores, which is responsible for infantile botulism. Pasteurization is not reliable for deactivation of spores nor is filtering; therefore, it would be safe not to give honey to infants.

Honey should not be heated since it transforms chemically and loses many of its qualities. Do not put honey in hot tea or make desserts with honey.

How Much Honey Should One Consume Per Day

Honey contains sugar and calories just like every other sweetener. One teaspoon of commercial natural honey contains 22 calories. It is about 80% sugar by weight. Honey actually contains more calories than sugar, as one teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories. Compared to plain sugar, honey had slightly less harmful effects on metabolism.

Your stomach doesn’t care whether you ingest white sugar or honey once it enters your bloodstream. To the body all sugars are equal and should be consumed sparingly. However, honey does contain a few trace of vitamins and minerals and may help alleviate a few health conditions.

If you’re healthy, having a table spoon of honey per day is probably fine. But honey is not a harmless sweetener and certainly won’t help you lose weight.

The antioxidant content of different types of honey can vary up to 20-fold. Generally speaking, darker honeys are better than the lighter varieties.

How Do You Know If Honey Has Gone Bad

Honey does not expire. The high concentration of sugar is a natural antibacterial agent. Honey is the only food that never goes bad.


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