Cloudy Honey

My first batches of honey this year were crushed and strained from foundationless honey supers in September. The honey has pleasant floral aromas and flavours and is mildly sweet, not overpowering. It’s easy to take. The honey was cloudy with bubbles when I first bottled it but quickly cleared up and took on the appearance of apple juice and still looks the same today. My last batch of honey was extracted in October using a local commercial beekeeper’s extractor. That honey was cloudy and has remained cloudy. The floral flavours and aromas are dialled down to 8 instead of 10, but are generally unaffected. It’s easy to tell what honey came from the extractor, though. Both of these photos were taken today:

Extracted honey from October 2011.

Crushed and strained honey from September 2011.

So why is the extracted honey cloudy? Well…
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What Makes Honey Taste Bland?

I’m asking because I don’t know.

I’m in New Brunswick at the moment. I picked up a jar of honey at a grocery store this morning. The honey is from a local apiary. The label on the honey jar reads “Pure liquid Canadian honey — Canada No. 1 White.” And that means… what exactly? Is the honey pasteurized or heated? Is it ultra-filtered? What does “pure liquid honey” actually refer to? Is it something specific or just some made up term like “natural” that doesn’t mean anything? Whatever it is, it tastes like melted plastic to me, at least when I compare it to the raw honey from our hives.

Raw honey comb removed from foundationless frame. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

What is it that makes grocery store honey, even “pure liquid honey,” taste more like a bottle of Elmer’s Glue than honey? Does heating the honey, whether to pasteurize or clarify it, kill all the goodness in it? Or does large-scale blending of honey from various hives through a single extractor result in a homogenous honey, a honey with a consistent — but bland — flavour?

I don’t know. But I sure do like our honey.

December 9th, 2011: Here are some informed responses to this post (much more informed than me anyway), all from Honey Bee Suite: Honey so bland it’s boring; Pasteurizing honey… whatever for?. And if you like that, you might also find this interesting: So is it honey or not?