Tag Archive | fun

Making Cream Honey (not just for beekeepers!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2017

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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

Ingredients

9 parts regular pure raw honey

1 part plain, pure raw cream honey (either purchased or homemade)

  1. 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

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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).

  1. 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. 

  1. Cool the liquefied honey to room temperature.

  2. 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.

Mixing Notes: 

  • 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).

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  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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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.

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Visit my follow-up post called “Flavorings for Homemade Cream Honey”, and learn how you can add fruit, flavor oils, spices, nuts and more to make your cream honey even more delicious!

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2014 Frederick County Fair – Popular Bees!

September 20, 2014

One thing I look forward to each year is working the fair with the Frederick County Beekeeping Association.  In addition to selling hoards of honey and educating our locals about beekeeping, colony collapse disorder, the benefits of honey, and so much more, we also teach them how to make hand rolled beeswax candles!

People make a bee-line to come visit us and see the bees!  It’s really a wonderful event.

Here are some fun photos highlighting the FCBA at the fair…

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Hand Rolling Beeswax Candles

When I signed up to help my Beekeeping Cub demonstrate how to make beeswax candles at the county fair, I envisioned myself sitting on a stump, wick in hand, dipping tirelessly into a pot of hot wax while waving at the kiddies.

I arrived to a table piled high with beeswax foundation – the long flat sheets of wax that are inserted in the frames of the hive to help bees draw out their comb. Using a precut cardboard template and an exacto knife, I was instructed to cut out the shapes from the sheets of wax. The wick cord was then wrapped around a precut piece of cardboard and cut to length.

With everything precut and ready to go, we invited passersby to sit down and make their own candles. And I mean everyone – kids, parents, grandmas, men, women, teenagers…regardless of age or gender, everyone loved it!

Since most of us beekeepers have a few extra sheets of beeswax foundation lying around, I thought I’d share a tutorial for making hand rolled beeswax candles. It’s super easy, they make great gifts, and it’s an easy and fun project for kids. In fact, many of the kids ended up showing their parents how to make the candles. Here we go…

Beeswax Candles

1 full sheet of deep foundation makes 2 candles. 

Supplies

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Supplies needed to make beeswax candles.

1.  On a large cutting board, lay one sheet of deep size beeswax foundation in front of you horizontally (skip this step if using pre-cut sheets).

2.  Use your ruler to measure across the top edge and cut a small slit to mark the top center of the sheet.

3.  Do the same across the bottom edge and cut a small slit to mark the bottom center of the sheet.

4.  Align the ruler with the two center slits and cut the sheet in half vertically with your exacto knife.  You’ll have two sheets.

5.  Put one of the halves aside and put the other half in front of you.

6.  Measure the left edge and cut a small slit to mark the center, then measure the right edge and cut a small slit to mark the center.

7.  Align your ruler with the two center slits and cut the sheet in half horizontally.  You should have two quartered pieces, as shown below.

8.   Put one piece aside and place the other piece in front of you horizontally.

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Two quartered pieces will make one candle.

9.   On the top edge right, measure 2 inches in (left, toward the center) from the right corner.  Mark with a small slit.

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On top edge, mark 2″ from the right corner.

 

10. On the left edge, measure 1 inch up from the bottom corner.

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On left edge, mark 1″ from bottom corner.


11.  Align your ruler between the 2″ and 1″ slits and cut diagonally along the top outside edge of the ruler, removing a triangular piece of wax.  

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Cut diagonally between the top and side slits.

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Finished cut piece – this can be used to cut a cardboard template that can be used for future candle projects, and it can also be used as a template for cutting the second quartered piece of wax.


12. Lay your finished cut piece on top of your other quartered piece so that right and left edges align.

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Lay the top piece on the other sheet and cut along the edges to create two matching pieces.

13. Use the top piece as a template, cutting along to edges to produce a matching piece from the bottom sheet.  You should have two matching pieces, as shown in the photos below.

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14.  Cut a 10″ piece of #2 (medium) candle wick cord and lay it across the bottom edge of one piece of wax, leaving equal parts extending outside the wax on each side, as shown below.


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15.  Gently press the wick into the wax, about 1/8″ above the bottom edge to help it stay in place, as shown below.


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16.  Use your fingers to gently curl the bottom edge of the wax upward and roll one complete roll over the wick, then stop rolling.

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One complete roll over the wick.

17.  Place the second piece of wax on top of the first piece so that the side edges align and so the bottom edge of the second piece aligns just above the first roll.

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18.  Gently continue rolling the bottom piece while incorporating the bottom edge of the top piece into the roll.

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19.  Continue to gently and evenly roll the combined pieces.  The more you roll, the easier the rolling will become, until you can easily push the roll tightly and all the way through to finish the candle, as shown below.


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20. FINAL STEP.  Turn the candle upside down, curl the end of the wick and press it into the bottom of the candle.   

Voila!  You have a finished candle!  

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These candles look great just as they are, or you can paint or stamp your candle using alcohol inks, as shown below.

You’ll enjoy about 2-3 hours of burning time from each candle.

These candles smell wonderful when burned, and because they are made from bees wax, they will not smoke.  That’s why only beeswax candles are used in the Catholic and other churches around the world.

So buy a few extra sheets of beeswax and start rolling some candles.  They are so much fun for everyone to make, and they make fabulous, inexpensive handmade gifts that your friends and family will love!  Enjoy!

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