Fake honey is the term used for honey-like products that contain non-bee products, such as glucose syrups, inverted sugar solutions (from refined sugar) or corn, cane or beet syrup.
Many of the honey products being imported into Canada are in fact, not honey. While fake honey may look like raw honey, the key difference is it is made in a factory, rather than by nature. Fake honey also:
contains a mix of bee honey and cheaper cane or other syrups, added to increase the volume of the honey, reduce production cost and price;
often has a high composition of water, diluting the honey, again used to increase the volume of the ‘honey’ and hence profits, and
has added artificial or synthetic ingredients such as dyes and flavour enhancers.
Fake honey will not have the natural flavour, texture and aroma of real honey. In fact, fake honey can have a sour odour or no smell at all and usually contains refined sugars.
Most importantly, fake honey does not have the same health benefits of pure honey.
The honey you find in the supermarket ranges from raw honey through to fake honey, which as we noted may not contain any honey at all!
The key difference between most of the commercially produced honey sold in the supermarkets and raw honey (unprocessed honey) and is that commercial produced honey has been heated to very high temperatures and filtered to a very low micron level. This is done to slow or stop the crystalisation process to and to remove any “specks” from the honey – essentially to increase the honey’s shelf life and aesthetics.
Unfortunately, these treatments also have a negative impact on the honey.
The Honey Filtration Process
Filtered honey, is honey that has had, through the process of filtration removed all the fine particles that are found suspended in raw honey. These include pollen grains, wax and propolis. More often than not, heat is also used in the process of filtration as it makes the process quicker by allowing it to pass through the filter faster as it is in a more liquid form.
Pasturing is the heating of honey to a high temperature. This process destroys the natural properties of the honey, eliminates many of the phytonutrients of raw honey. Heating honey in this manner not only kills rich nutrients in the raw honey, pasteurisation reduces the flavour and original heavenly scent of genuine honey.
Pasteurisation and filtration are used to make the honey look cleaner and more attractive on the shelf. This process also reduces the honey viscosity due to the honey being warmer, making it easier to handle and package.
In many ways, pasteurised honey no longer has the elements that make it raw honey, making commercially produced honey a refined facsimile of real honey.
How to Recognise Raw Honey
Compared to commercially produced honey, Beamish raw honey may have a slightly cloudy appearance as it contains fine textured crystals, particles of honeycomb and flecks of pollen. Raw honey will crystalize (become thick and grainy). If you buy honey and it doesn't cryatalize, you should be concerned that you may have fake honey.
How to Test if Your Honey is Fake or Raw
1. Drop a teaspoon of honey into a glass of water. Fake honey will immediately start to dissolve, whilst raw honey will drop to the bottom of the glass intact.
2. If you have had your honey for some time and it remains a syrup then it may be fake honey. Most real honey crystalises over time.
Buy your honey directly from a beekeeper who practices minimal processing to be assured of premium quality honey!