Wednesday, January 31, 2017
What IS cream honey?
Oh my, if you’re a beekeeper or a simply a honey lover, then you must learn how to make cream honey. It makes a delicious and unique gift for friends, family, co-workers, teachers, mailpersons…even kids! And if you’re looking for a good way to use up the hard, crystalized honey that’s been sitting in your basement for the past three years, then look no further – cream honey is the answer.
How it works…
Honey never goes bad, but it does crystalize. The crystals are very granular – the size and texture of granulated sugar or fine sand. As the crystals grow throughout the honey, they maintain this granular size, resulting in a thick, rough, clumpy consistency that’s better dissolved in hot liquids than spread on toast or pancakes.
Now, imagine if you could dramatically reduce the size of the crystals so that, as they grow throughout the honey, they create a creamy, smooth, spreadable product that’s fantastic on toast or pancakes. That’s cream honey! Wait, it gets better! Imagine a smooth spreadable honey that’s flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, dried fruits, toasted pecans, or any flavorings you like. Exciting, right?
What’s more, cream honey is simple to make once you know the process. So now that you know what it is, let’s make some cream honey!
Plain Cream Honey
9 parts regular pure raw honey
1 part plain, pure raw cream honey (either purchased or homemade)
Measure out the honey.
Use a food scale to measure out 9 parts of regular honey and 1 part cream (or seed) honey by weight. You want 90% liquid honey, and 10% cream honey (no more than 10%, and no less – any more and you’re wasting good honey).
Example: 16 oz. honey à 16 x .10 (10%) = 1.6 oz. cream/seed honey
Seed Honey: The 10% cream honey is called “seed” honey, which acts as a starter for creating a larger batch of cream honey. With that said, always set aside a jar of plain cream honey from each batch to use as a starter for future batches, or if you’re just starting out, use purchased cream honey (raw, pure).
Liquefy the regular honey (no crystals). (9 parts only, do not liquefy the cream honey)
To liquefy the crystalized honey, simply place the honey in a pot over low heat and gradually warm it, stirring constantly until all crystals are eliminated. DO NOT HEAT TO OVER 120 DEGREES, or you risk cooking out all of the honey’s beneficial properties.
I bring the honey to temperature, then pull it off the stove and stir and stir. When it begins to cool, I put it back on the stove, bring it to temperature again, pull it off the stove and stir again. I repeat this process until the honey is fully liquefied, or clear and liquid in appearance. Might take about 15 or 20 minutes.
Note: Crystalized honey works well for making cream honey because it will re-crystalize faster and better than uncrystalized honey. If your regular honey is liquid and you’re certain it does not contain crystals, then skip this step and go straight to step 4. If you’re uncertain whether your honey contains crystals, then follow this step to be safe. If the honey has been sitting for several months, then there’s a good chance crystals have begun to form but may not be visible yet.
Cool the liquefied honey to room temperature.
Combine both the liquid and cream honeys in a mixer.
Add both honeys in a mixing bowl. Use a mixer to whip both honeys thoroughly for 3-5 minutes. The final mixed honey is very pourable and resembles cake batter, as shown in the photos below.
- Several methods can be used to mix the honey. I like to whip my honey in a mixer. This method ensures that the honeys are well combined, and it adds air for a lighter colored, creamier final product. If this doesn’t appeal to you, then simply combine manually until very well incorporated.
- The seed honey must be thoroughly and evenly incorporated throughout the liquid honey to ensure that the crystals grow evenly throughout the honey. Do not skimp on this step, especially if mixing by hand.
- For larger batches (e.g. 5 gallons batch), the honey can be mixed in a dry, sanitized, food grade bucket using a drill with a clean, dry sanitized paint mixer attachment (for food only).
Optional – Add flavorings and additives.
This is the time to add flavorings, spices, nuts, dried fruit, etc. Since there’s quite a bit of information to be shared on this topic, I’ll cover additives and flavorings in a separate, follow-up post.
Pour finished cream honey into containers.
Glass, plastic – it doesn’t matter. When selecting containers, keep in mind that this honey is not pourable once it sets, so pour into final containers. For example, if giving as gifts, then pour the honey into the containers that will be gifted. Transferring the finished cream honey between containers will be a ridiculous mess.
7. Optional – Remove the bubble layer from the surface.
Whipped honey contains lots of air, so as the honey sits for 12-24 hours at room temperature, the bubbles travel up to the surface, as shown in the photo below.
This layer can be scraped off, or overlay a piece of plastic wrap and smooth out the bubble surface. Since the purpose of this step is purely aesthetic, feel free to skip it. The bubbles won’t affect the taste or quality of the cream honey.
8. Set the honey in cool location at around 58 degrees for 13 days.
A temperature controlled fridge is ideal, however a regular fridge (top shelf) should work fine, or a cool location in the basement or a cool garage would also work well. Just test the temps and keep as close to 58 degrees as possible.
13 days is the magic number! After 13 days, voila, you should have spreadable cream honey.
Below are the jars of cream honey that I made from two pounds (32 oz) of regular honey + 3.2 oz of cream “seed” honey.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post about flavorings and additives for cream honey!