Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Oh dear, oh dear, what do I blog about today. Well, I moved the few flowers I have to a new bed in the back yard but that's not too exciting. And... uh... oh it just was one of those ho hum days after being gone all day yesterday. You know the ones where you run and run all day and are still way... behind. So all I could think about with the bees flying around me was I really need to call a rancher friend and see if I can move the bees out onto his alfalfa fields. It may just be nubbins right now but two hives with three small children in the yard is a bit too cozy for comfort.

Then when the kids wanted peanut butter and honey sandwiches and I didn't have any honey that wasn't crystallized I thought that's it. I'll talk briefly about honey. But first I had to solve a mystery that has been plaguing me for some time. Why does our honey sometimes crystallize really fast and other times more slowly.
Crystallizing doesn't hurt the honey any, you just put it in a glass container in a pot of warm water and turn the stove on low, slowly melting the honey back into a liquid. Honey is sugar and water. Unlike white sugar it has some minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a health food and recommend you eat up but it is definitely much better to consume than white sugar. All the medical properties of honey I'll go into in another post as 3 little munchkins are begging for attention so this needs to be snappy.
6 or 7 year old honey and it has darkened considerably.
It would be as pale as this burr comb if it were fresh alfalfa or clover honey
Different kinds of honey crystallize at a different rate. The article I read said Tupelo honey takes years to crystallize. Now if I only knew what Tupelo is. Around here we have sweet clover and alfalfa honey. They taste the same to me and usually our honey is a mixture. This type of nectar makes a very pale yellow colored honey. Awesome to cook with since the flavor is mild. As a rule the darker the honey the stronger tasting it is. The change to this rule is older honey which as it ages darkens and becomes a bit stronger in flavor. This takes years, not weeks, or months. The honey we are using right now is at least 6 years old since that was the last time we received any honey off our bees. It is a darker than its first year being a nice warm yellow but when it was new it was a really pale yellow.

7 years of drought has left our honey supplies in the basement low. Then last year just as we were coming out of the drought, the grasshoppers devoured the countryside. In fact there was so little food for the bees that I've had to feed them all winter and now into the spring. That will be a task for tomorrow. Maybe this year we will be blessed with some fresh honey to fill our shelves once more. I can't continue to feed them and get nothing in return.

The honey in this bucket is part liquid and part crystallized. So how come? Well, I had to look that up too. Apparently honey is best kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent rapid crystallization. Above that the honey won't crystallize but it invites yeast and bacteria growth. Below that and it speed up the crystallization process. So depending on what type of honey you have and what temperature it is stored determines how fast it will crystallize whether that is a few weeks or a few months.

Ta, Ta, the munchkins are howling at my side. Have a good evening!!!

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