Raw Mānuka Honey: what makes it raw & how to know what to look for?
Raw is raw – right? Well not exactly. When it comes to honey, the term raw when is not quite as clear cut as it is with meat or vegetables.
Let’s get really honest about it and understand what it is you are really looking for in your raw honey given there is no strict legal requirement for claims and labelling of honey raw.
In its raw state honey contains natural vitamins and living enzymes and when buying raw honey - you want to be guaranteed that the nutritional elements are preserved.
So, generally speaking, the basic difference between raw and regular honey is how it’s been processed and in particular how much heat is been used in that process.
What's the rawest form of Mānuka honey?
In the strictest terms Mānuka honeycomb or mānuka honey straight from the hive, that has not been filtered or heat processed, is as ‘raw’ as you can get.
However, Mānuka honey in its rawest form - unheated & unfiltered, doesn’t make it anymore ‘nutritious’ or more beneficial than other forms of Manuka honey.
In most cases you will find that a small about of heat and filtration is used in the Mānuka honey extraction and production process, that's okay, if done correctly it doesn't reduce it's benefits.
Why would Mānuka honey need to be heated?
The best way to extract Mānuka honey from honeycomb/ form the frames is with a bit of heat - but only as hot as our bees would do.
Did you know that the average temperature found in the hive is between 91°F - 97°F? So it’s very natural for honey to reach these temperatures.
A good Mānuka honey manufacturer will only try to mimic these temperatures in their factory in order to work with the honey so it can be filtered/ creamed and packaged but at the same time maintain it's nutritional goodness.
So - you should ask your producer or retailer if they know to what temperatures the honey has been heated to in the production process.
The amount of heat use in our Mānuka honey process satisfies a raw diet. In a raw diet all food should not been heated above 98.6°F. This is the average temperature of your body and is believed to keep the food as nutritious as possible.
What do we do?
Here at Happy Valley we do heat our Mānuka honey, but it is only ever gently warmed, mimicking the heat of the hive. This helps to retard granulation for a short period of time and allow light straining, stirring and packing into containers for sale.
What does it it mean to filter Mānuka honey?
Most honey goes through a filtration process. After the beekeeper extracts the frame of Mānuka honey from the hive, in the factory the honey is removed from its frame. After this the manuka honey goes through a filter in order to remove foreign objects, in particular pollen.
Honey is made by honey bees from the nectar of flowers and plants, not pollen. Pollen is actually an accidental guest in honey, brought back by the bee as a source of food for baby bees (the “brood”), or incidentally introduced into the honey through other means, such as during the extraction process.
Pollen in honey is sometimes analyzed to help determine the primary floral source. The amount of pollen in honey is minuscule and not enough to impact the nutrient value of honey.
Honey is still honey, even without pollen. So therefore there is no reason whereby ‘unfiltered’ honey would be more ‘nutritious’. While some people may suggest to purchase raw local honey as a way to help your allergies this may not always be the answer - found out why here.
Is creamed Mānuka honey still raw?
Yes, creamed Mānuka honey is raw too. If the process is done correctly creamed Manuka can still be defined as raw Manuka honey, just make sure it if it’s from a trusted producer.
Creamed honey is achieved by having one part finely granulated honey blended with nine parts liquid honey. The mixture is then placed in cool storage to promote rapid granulation and produce a small crystal structure that results in a smooth creamy texture - hence creamed honey.
The precisely controlled crystallization process also lightens the color of honey, but does not affect the taste and nutritional goodness at all.
So creamed Mānuka honey is by definition is still raw!
What do we do?
Here at Happy Valley we aim to have maintain Manuka honey natural goodness throughout the process from collection, harvesting and to production.
Our 100% pure NZ natural raw Mānuka honeys are carefully stirred to produce a silky smooth creamed texture. Our Mānuka honey maintains its flavor from the unique environment they have been collected from.
Our Mānuka honey is raw and as close to nature as we can get it.
Is pasteurize Mānuka honey classed as raw?
No - pasteurize Mānuka honey is not raw honey.
Some manufactures will pasteurize their honey, this is achieved by heating the honey above 161.6°F for a short period, followed by rapid cooling.
This is not raw honey.
This is for easy filtering and bottling, so that it looks cleaner and smoother, more appealing on the shelf, and easier to handle and package and store where heat and moisture will not effect the honey.
So this is typically the syrupy liquid (or runny) honeys you might find in the supermarket, these honeys have been pasteurized to help with the presentation and making it a consistent color and look for consumers by stopping the granulation process.
This is not raw honey. It is simply a way to ensure the honey does not ferment over time (fermentation does not pose a health danger, it just affects the taste).
So in short, Honey can still be called 'raw' even when it has been processed.
Ultimately it is up to you, as the customer to understand what level of filtration and processing with heat you are happy with.