Honey consists of over 200 components, most of which are fructose and glucose. Honey also contains water, sucrose, maltose, enzymes, organic compounds and minerals. Sugars make up over 70% of honey, while enzymes and minerals make up around 6% of it, for example. Bees collect nectar from wild and cultivated plants, so the exact proportion of ingredients varies depending on honey type. The taste, colour and consistency of different honey varieties also varies a lot for this reason! The glucose that honey contains is a vital sugar for people. It is absorbed into our bloodstream and gives us energy. Glucose is absorbed into our body quickly and raises our blood sugar levels efficiently. At the same time, fructose is absorbed slowly and keeps our blood sugar level even for a long time. Read more about honey here.
The reason some varieties of honey are fluid and others become crystallised is that bees collect nectar from different plants. Each plant produces nectar with a different consistency, so the honey that bees make from the different plant nectars has different qualities. In practice, the sugar in the nectar defines the honey’s colour and taste and how fluid it is. The proportion of the two main sugars – glucose and fructose – in the nectar defines whether honey stays fluid for a long time or whether it will start crystallising quickly. Most Finnish honey varieties crystallise quickly, meaning that they are solid, sometimes even hard and grainy. Crystallisation is a natural process, and it is caused by the high glucose content of Finnish honey. If honey is left to crystallise on its own, some of the crystals may be very large. The crystals are condensed glucose, but some people mistakenly think that there is sugar added to the honey. Nothing is ever added to honey, and adding a substance like sugar would be technically impossible, because honey already contains more sugar than a saturated sugar solution. If the honey comes from nectar that is collected from fireweed, for example, it will stay fluid for a long time. The reason for this is the high amount of fructose in fireweed nectar. We package this kind of honey and sell it as Finnish Filtered Honey (350g). Naturally, this honey will also not stay fluid forever: it will crystallise in time. Sometimes crystallisation creates large crystals, which is a sign that the honey is truly natural! The honey can be made fluid again by heating it slowly in a warm water bath. Crystallisation is not affected by whether a jar or bottle has been opened or not. Instead, it is affected by storage temperature. Honey stored in a cool environment (optimal crystallisation temperature +14°C) will crystallise more quickly than honey stored at room temperature. The fridge is too humid an environment for storing honey.
The Finnish Floral Honey and Traditional Finnish Crystallised Honey that we package are polyfloral honey varieties, but their main difference is their consistency. The floral honey is soft and easy to scoop out of the jar but still solid. The traditional Finnish Crystallised Honey, as the name implies, has freely crystallised into a solid honey that cracks naturally. The softness of the floral honey has been achieved by mixing the honey and mixing fine-grained honey into fluid honey. In mechanical mixing, the honey is mixed gently, creating smaller crystals.
We package a limited amount of freshly-extracted honey right at the start of the harvesting season. It can be found in stores as New Harvest Honey (450g). Our other honey products are packaged all year. New Harvest Honey is fluid when packaged. The honey starts naturally crystallising at its own pace over time. Free crystallisation happens slowly and unevenly. For this reason, some of the honey in the jar may still be fluid during crystallisation, while other parts of it may have formed large crystals. The crystals are crystallising glucose which is one of the main ingredients in honey. Finnish floral honey, for instance, is mechanically mixed at this point, which creates smaller crystals in the honey. Nothing is ever added to honey!
The honey that we package is so-called polyfloral honey, which means that bees have collected the honey’s nectar from several different plants. During the harvesting season, the honey created from the nectar of different plants naturally tastes different, because each plant brings its own unique flavour to the honey. The plants the honey comes from also affect the honey’s colour and consistency. In short, it is natural for there to be taste and colour differences between different jars of honey.
When you open a jar of honey, you might sometimes see a white layer of “honey foam” on top of the honey. Honey foam is created when the top layer of very dry honey reacts to the air, causing the top to dry out further. The honey foam may not look very appealing, but it is actually a sign of good-quality honey. In other words, honey that has honey foam on top of it is perfectly usable!
We purchase our Finnish honey from select contract producers, and the honey we package is produced at Finnish apiaries. Some of our contract producers practise beekeeping and honey production professionally or as a secondary occupation, while others produce honey as a hobby. The number of hives our producers have varies from a few dozen to 900 hives. You can learn more about our producers by watching videos about them. We make the honey that the producers supply us with into larger batches, so one jar likely has honey from different producers. You can check the “Best before” date on top of the jar to see where the honey comes from. Use the search function on the front page.
Honey should be stored in a dry environment at room temperature. If you do not plan to use the honey immediately, store it in a dry and cool place. The optimal storage temperature for crystallised honey is +14°C. If you store the honey in your fridge, it might be exposed to moisture. If you do not use all the honey immediately, you can also freeze it and thaw it later.
The date on top of the jar shows the minimum storage period for honey, meaning how long you can use the honey in the jar without any problems. Honey has a very long shelf life, so if stored correctly, it can remain usable even after the date marked on the jar. The date also works as a method of batch monitoring for us. You can check the “Best before” date on top of the jar to see where the honey comes from. Use the search function on the front page. If the honey is layered but smells normal, it is still usable. When layers develop, the top layer is clear and fluid. The bottom layer is crystallised. There are several possible causes for layering, such as too warm a storage temperature. The optimal storage temperature for crystallised honey is +14°C. Layered honey can be mixed and used. If the honey smells somewhat like alcohol, the honey has started fermenting and is no longer usable.
We package honey all year round, so the honey that has crystallised in storage needs to be made easy to package with gentle warming. During the cold time of year, the honey that is packaged is warmed up and quickly cooled, but not heated! The warming is done in a way that ensures that the honey’s temperature does not rise too much during the process. Quickly warming up and cooling down the honey does not damage it. The more significant factor related to the quality of honey is the long-term storage temperature. Honey naturally contains over 200 ingredients, including enzymes whose number decreases if the honey is stored in too warm an environment for too long. For this reason, the Act on Honey written by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Maa- ja metsätalousministeriön asetus hunajasta) does not define a specific limit for heating honey for a short period of time. We always store honey in a cool storage space. Because most summer honey is delivered to us right after the end of the harvesting season, we store the honey until it is time to package it. We always use an unheated storage space for long-term storage. If the honey has become crystallised in the storage containers, it is warmed during the packaging process, so that we can get it out of the containers, strain it and package it in consumer packaging. After the honey is warmed, it is quickly cooled down to minimise enzyme loss. At home, you can minimise enzyme loss by adding honey to your tea only after it is cool enough to drink and by drinking the tea quickly, for example.
Honey contains small amounts of pollen which may cause an allergic reaction. Pollen is a natural part of honey, so those who are sensitive to pollen should only use small amounts of honey and see if it triggers an allergic reaction. Those with pollen allergies can use honey for desensitisation by eating it daily months before pollen season. Those who have severe pollen allergies can try our Finnish Filtered Honey (350g), which contains less pollen than other honey products thanks to straining.
Honey is unheated, living nutrition, so it may contain spores from the Clostridium botulinum bacterium. The spores usually grow in the soil or the sludge at the bottom of water bodies, so they are sometimes found in unheated fish, herbs, root vegetables, fruit, berries and honey, among other things. The intestines of infants are still underdeveloped, so if they ingest the spores, they may cause botulism. Children who are over 12 months old and adults have intestines that can resist the spores. Furthermore, the spores cannot be transferred to the infant through breast milk, so people who are pregnant or breastfeeding can use honey. Getting sick with botulism after ingesting honey is, overall, very unlikely. According to the Finnish Food Authority, food poisoning caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium is very rare.
The term raw honey is used in the United States, and it refers to unpasteurised honey. In the United States, unlike in Finland, pasteurising honey is very common. During pasteurisation, honey is heated to 70–78 degrees Celsius. Pasteurising makes honey fluid and clear, as heating it melts crystals. Because much of the honey in the United States is pasteurised, there are many consumers who want unpasteurised honey, which is called raw honey. We never pasteurise honey! Furthermore, the honey sold in bottles is not fluid due to heating, but because the plants the honey is made from make the honey stay fluid for a longer period of time. The Finnish Filtered Honey (350g) sold in bottles will, in fact, crystallise in time, which is a sign of good, unprocessed honey!