Bacteria, Bees, blog, blogging, crystallisation, Crystallization, Fact, Facts, Food, Friday, fun, Gluconic acid, Health, Honey, Honey bee, honeycomb, Interest, Interesting, Knowledge, PH, Recipe, Sugar, taste, Water content
Happy Friday everyone, I hope you’ve had a productive, fun filled week. If not, fingers crossed for the weekend!
On to my fact for this week, supplied by our friends the bees.
Fun fact: Honey is the only food that does not go off!
The reason for this is that as we all know, honey is a sugar and sugars have a very low moisture content. This makes it extremely difficult for bacteria and other microorganisms to live and grow in them, which is what causes foods to spoil. In fact sugars are hygroscopic, meaning that they attract water molecules. Now, this might sound like it would make it more likely for the honey to become moist and thus safe for bacteria, but the bacteria themselves are actually desiccated in the process!
In addition to the low moisture content, honey is actually fairly acidic, having a pH of between 3.26 and 4.48 which is far from suitable for microbial life (neutral being pH 7).
The final nail in the coffin for those pesky food spoiling bacteria is the way in which honey is produced in the first place. Bees process honey using the enzyme glucose oxidase which modifies sugar into gluconic acid (hence the low pH) and hydrogen peroxide, which is another killer of bacteria!
Of course being a stickler for details I have to provide the little caveat that this is all dependent on it being stored away from moisture, otherwise eventually the solution will absorb enough to become sufficiently dilute for the bacteria to grow.
On a related note, when honey crystallises it does not mean that it has gone bad in any way! The crystallisation is a completely natural process and is down to the glucose content losing water and forming crystals, which go on to create more crystals etc. Crystals can also form on any unfiltered particles such as pollen, but mostly these are removed in the manufacturing process so usually it just comes down to time.
Temperature also affects the rate of crystallisation so you shouldn’t store your honey in the fridge as this will speed up the process (and there’s no need to store it in the fridge to keep it fresh anyway!). If your honey has crystallised, you simply need to warm it gradually and indirectly (for example placing the jar in a pot of water and heating it), remembering not to heat it too much as you’ll render all the enzymes inactive. Try to keep it below 100°F / 35°C.
Finally honey also has a wide range of health benefits and it actually tastes wonderful too! It’s like the best thing ever!
Do you have a favourite honey? Or recipe using honey? Do you use honey for any health/medical purposes? Feel free to share if you do!