Why buy West Australian Raw Honey and Why is it Better?

Updated: Jul 20, 2018

Have you ever questioned the definition of ‘honey’? I hadn’t realised that the definition varies around the world (Asia, China, Australia and New Zealand for example), until I heard a presentation from Professor Norberto Gardia, from the University of Bahi Blanca, in Argentina recently. At a recent industry conference I heard him speak and he informed us how much definitions vary, as does the process to get the so called ‘honey’ product to the consumer.

He offered the CODEX definition (the standard for honey regulation), which is:

“The natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants, or from secretions of living parts of plants, or excretions of plant sucking insects, on the living parts of plants, which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in the honey comb to ripen and mature.“

Is your honey raw, unprocessed and from Australia?

It has become very complicated in recent years to know the origin of honey, but fortunately in Australia the food regulations require the country of origin to be listed so be sure to check both the country of origin and the ingredients. There are over 30 companies importing honey into the country so pay attention to words such as ‘product of’ or ‘Australian made’ so you know the honey is from Aussie bees.  In Australia, due to our strict bio-security regulations, all imported honey must be heat treated, tested and cleared for chemicals and other additives, so this is something to consider when you are choosing to eat foreign honey – it is also means that imported honey can never be labelled ‘raw’ or ‘pure’. 

Some consumers want a sweeter style of ‘honey’ to use at home and for this demand, companies will often blend a range of different honeys or add imported honey syrup. They may also need to treat these various substances that go into a jar of ‘honey’, to provide the supermarkets with a cheaper alternative that is ‘runny’ and ‘flawless’ – which is thought to be what customers might prefer. Raw honey has a shelf life and may thicken or crystallise, making it look imperfect compared to what customers think honey ‘should’ look like. It’s for this reason that smooth runny honey gets supermarket presence, as many consumers won’t purchase naturally formed raw honey, just as they won’t buy blemished fruit.

Raw honey really does not compare to the heat treated honey. It is a far superior product and more ‘organic’ in nature in that it goes through natural changes with temperature fluctuations.  Bees keep the honey around 34 degrees in the hive and it will be quite runny at this temperature. However, as the temperature decreases the honey will thicken and may even crystallise (excluding Jarrah). This will naturally vary from honey to honey and the honey can be returned to its runny consistency by simply placing the jar in hot water or in the microwave for 10 seconds or so.   

If honey has been heat treated and processed, the honey is likely to be very runny regardless of temperature variation. Honey that has been heat treated may compromise the health benefits, when in contrast to raw honey has them in abundance.

What is raw unprocessed honey?

The honey the beekeeper extracts from the hive is the raw honey. Once the bees have capped the cells with wax and the contents ripened to ‘honey’, it is then mature and ready for extracting. While honey can be eaten immediately from the hive, national food and health regulations require us to filter it using course and fine filter netting, to ensure the honey doesn’t contain anything other than pure honey when it’s packaged and sold - honey may contain small particles of pollen and wax as an added health bonus and these are what are filtered out. Some types of un-treated honey will often crystallise as it gets colder, giving you different options for eating or using your honey, depending on the consistency you want. As mentioned previously, honey can be thinned by simply heating it in warm/hot water for a few minutes to dissolve the crystals. 

If you’re feeling inspired by all the great health and goodness nature has provided in raw honey, look for honey that is labelled ‘raw honey’ which usually means it hasn’t been heat treated or blended with imported honey. Honey comes in a wide variety of flavours, colours, textures and consistencies, depending on which nectar it was made from. All Honey in the Garden products contain 100% pure West Australian raw honey, that has simply been filtered and packaged for your enjoyment. Look for a stockist near you on our website, or contact us if you can’t find our product locally.