Honey 101

by Laurie Gorton, Baking & Snack
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Honey is classified by form (liquid and dry being most often used in commercial formulations), color and flavor, with the latter two resulting primarily from their mineral content and the floral source frequented by the bees.

This natural sweetener is mildly treated before it gets to the baker. Honey processors commonly use separation systems to remove particulate matter at the nanoparticle level. It is heated to 140 to 160°F before storage to prevent granulation known as “sugared honey.” Such heating also destroys wild yeast cells, dissolves any glucose crystals that may have formed and redistributes moisture throughout the honey mass. When glucose crystallizes, the reaction liberates water. Honey will ferment when improperly stored, and the potential to do so increases when moisture content exceeds 20%.

“Primarily composed of fructose and glucose, honey provides more sweetness than sugar and has a natural appeal,” observed Catherine Barry, director of marketing, National Honey Board, Firestone, CO. “Honey’s sugar profile does change slightly between floral sources. Fructose can range from 30.91 to 44.26%, and glucose can range from 22.89 to 40.75%.”

Some honey varieties are higher in one or the other. The greater the fructose-to-glucose ratio, the less likely the honey is to crystallize. One that doesn’t is tupelo honey from the Southeastern US. Its fructose and glucose contents may, on occasion, reach a ratio of 2:1.

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