Do You Need To Sterilize Honey [or Can you Eat it Raw?]

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You’ve harvested your honey and are now wondering whether you can go ahead and use it. Honey is a magic food with tons of uses. In most cases, people use it for dressing marinades, salads, and other dishes. Others use it to replace table sugar as a healthier option. Honey in its raw form may contain wax, yeast and pollen. While honey has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, it may cause minimal harm to infants and those with compromised immunity due to the presence of some impurities. Not to worry though, you can choose pasteurized or raw honey depending on your needs. If you just harvested your honey or bought a jar of raw honey and want to sanitize it, here’s everything you ought to know.

Honey has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, which make it inhabitable to any microorganisms. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to sterilize it, as this might compromise qualities like the natural aroma and other health benefits of raw honey. However, if you are worried about ingesting small quantities of yeast, mold, fungi and bacteria (especially if you have a child under 1-year-old), there is a simple way to sanitize it to get rid of any harmful microorganisms present.

Whether you are a beekeeper, a beer brewer or a honey lover, you want to be sure that the product you are using is safe. Honey is naturally safe, especially when harvested and collected in a clean environment. Raw honey will cause you no harm, but if you need to pasteurize it, you need to do it correctly, or it will be of no use. In this article, you will learn how to keep your honey clean and safe for use. Learn how to do it right.

Does Honey Need To Be Sterilized?

I like my honey raw with all its natural goodness, aroma and antimicrobial properties intact. As you probably already know, honey has an infinite shelf life due to its ability to kill any living organisms that may compromise its quality, causing it to get spoilt. Therefore, honey ought to be safe for most people, but there are some situations where you might choose to sterilize it.

Firstly, you could sterilize to get rid of any impurities such as wax and pollen. Although these are usually harmless unless you have a specific allergy.

Honey can contain some bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum, which has been known to cause infant botulism. Usually, only the spores can survive in the honey in an inactive state. For this reason, infants below one year shouldn’t consume honey as the spores can thrive in their gut. If you are concerned about ingesting small quantities of yeast, mold, fungi and bacteria, sterilizing should help get rid of these and give you peace of mind.

When consuming raw honey, it helps a lot if you know you are eating a quality harvest. Therefore its a good idea that you buy your honey products from a local beekeeper who practices sustainable and safe beekeeping. This way, you can be sure to get pure and healthy honey you can consume raw.

How to sterilize Honey at Home

Whether you harvested honey or bought a jar of raw honey, you can still sterilize it from home. You don’t need training for this. It’s a simple routine like preparing any meal. Here’s how to go about it.

  1. Add water to a pan or a pot and bring it to a boil.

2. Place a jar of raw honey in the simmering/ boiling water.

3. Place a candy thermometer inside the honey and heat the honey to 63° to 65.3°.

4. Adjust the stove to maintain this temperature and leave the honey for at least 22 minutes to sterilize.

5. Transfer your pure honey into already sterilized and dry jars for storing.

What temperature kills bacteria in honey?

Heat above 45° will kill any bacteria in the honey. It is worth noting that the heat is not selective and will eliminate both harmful microorganisms and the antioxidants, bacteria, and enzymes that give raw honey its magic. Some people feel that heating honey will ruin its natural flavors and medicinal benefits, making it just a sweetener.

With all this sterilizing talk you are going to be doing a lot of pouring and transferring of honey. When handling honey, there is always the chance you may spill some! And trust me, cleaning that sticky mess up can be a pain! So we thought we would give you a quick honey cleaning 101 🙂

How do you remove hardened honey?

Pure honey that has not been adulterated hardens in a process called crystallization. You should try not to worry about your honey crystallizing, but instead be glad it’s hardening, which is proof that your honey is natural and not a bottle of fructose with a honey flavor.

Honey is sweet, magical, and healthy but can make some of the most stubborn spills. To avoid having harder to clean honey spills, you should remove them immediately. Leaving the spill to sit for a while causes the honey to harden, making it even tougher to clean.

To remove a spill of hardened honey you will need boiled/hot water, a pair of cleaning gloves and a sponge. Begin by pouring hot water on the patch, covering it with paper towels or a sponge, and leave it for a while. The sponge or paper towels should absorb the honey which in turn will get liquefied by the hot water. Remove the sponge and clean them. If there is more honey on the cloth, you need to repeat the process a couple of times.

Be sure to use hot and not warm water. Also, you will need ample patience to avoid making an even more significant spill. In case the honey spill is thick and hard, you can use a knife to cut some of the honey off to make it easier for you to get rid of the spill.

In case your cloth or surface got discolored, you can clean it using stain removers and detergents to retain the original color.

How do you clean a jar of honey?

The recommended honey jars are made of glass or plastics safe for food storage. Real/ pure honey is sticky and crystallizes over time, making it hard to clean the honey jars. Same as removing a honey spill, you will need to use hot water to clean your jar.

Boil the water and pour it inside the honey jar while still hot. You can use your cleaning gloves to prevent burns from the hot water. Swirl the jar to soften the honey. Repeat the process several times with hot water to get a clean jar.

If you need a jar of honey to store your honey, you can buy pre-sterilized ones. Honey is antimicrobial, so you don’t necessarily need to sterilize the bottle before transferring your honey. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, right! To clean your jars, you can place them upside down in your dishwasher and let them go through a complete cycle. You can then place them in a 140° pre-heated oven to sterilize them. Clean the lids in hot water and soap and leave them to dry.

How do you remove honey from plastic?

The best way to remove honey from a plastic jar is by using a hot water bath. Usually, a hot water bath in a pot should do the trick, but you risk melting the plastic jar and spoiling the honey once the water reaches 140°. For this reason, you can use hot water and leave the crystalized honey inside the bottle to melt. You can repeat the process until the plastic jar is clean. Keep stirring the water or swirling the bottle until all the honey gets dissolved in the water, leaving your jar clean.

What dissolves honey?

Pure honey doesn’t dissolve in water unless you add warm water and keep stirring for some time. Adulterated honey, on the other hand, dissolves in the water right away. Honey is also insoluble in alcohol unless you first mix it with a small amount of water. The great insolubility of honey in many solvents is used as a quality test to check for adulteration and high moisture content.


About Grampa Beekeeper

Having spent a lifetime tending to bees, I now want to pass my knowledge onto the next generation of beekeepers. Beekeeping may not be fashionable, but it is my life long passion! From entrance excluders to packaged bee handling, I've got you covered! I'm not the best at writing, though, so bear with me!!