Raw and unpasteurized honey is honey that has not been heated to break its glucose crystals, which through the process of crystallization the honey crystallizes, and is what we call raw or pure honey.
If you are looking for high quality raw honey, in the Cortijuelo de San Benito in Las Rozas de Madrid or in our online store you can buy the best raw honey from Spain and Europe: orange blossom, heather honey,rosemary honey, thyme, manuka, chestnut, oak…. For more information on how to buy quality honey we recommend where to buy quality pure and raw honey.
What is true raw and unpasteurized honey?
Crystallization, a natural phenomenon, in which raw and unpasteurized honey goes from a liquid to a solid state. This change of structure is a change of state where the molecules of honey, mainly glucose, lose energy and release it as heat. This process takes place at a faster rate in lighter honeys than in darker honeys, because lighter honeys contain a higher content of glucose, which is the sugar that first crystallizes. However, there are exceptions, such as Acacia honey, which is very clear and takes a very long time to crystallize or does not crystallize.
The crystallization of honey is accelerated if it is subjected to temperatures close to 14°C, when there are remains of propolis, micro air bubbles, pollen, wax residues, etc. On the contrary, high contents and lower glucose proportions slow down crystallization.
With the crystallization process, raw honey, honey that has not undergone a pasteurization process, undergoes changes in color and texture, but without any loss of flavor, aroma or properties. This process is completely natural and happens to any quality honey.
Honey extraction process
Once the honey has been collected and removed from the honeycomb, it is stored in stainless steel tanks. However, with the passage of time as we have seen and if the honey is of quality, this product tends to solidify, that is, crystallize. For this reason, to be able to pack the honey, if the honey is crystallized, it is subjected to a temperature of about 40°C, so we return it back to its liquid state, being in this state easy to pack it. Imagine how difficult it would be to pack it in the smallest crystallized jars, the beekeeper would spend a lot of time on packaging.
By subjecting the honey to these not very high temperatures, 40 ºC, the properties of the raw honey are hardly damaged, so it still keeps its taste and aroma intact. However, for lovers of the most natural, you can also buy honey with the honeycomb included, this is a product that has only been handled by bees, man does not even touch it.
Photo 1: Unpasteurized honey not yet extracted
Once the raw and unpasteurized honey is packaged in an airtight container and takes the room temperature, the honey begins to become cloudy, beginning its crystallization process in the jar. This process is slower in summer because of the higher temperatures and is faster in winter because of the cooler temperatures. At higher temperatures, the opposite process also occurs; the crystallized honey becomes liquid when taking the heat from the environment.
With crystallization, a more or less thick, white, dusty film or layer may appear on the honey, consisting mainly of glucose crystals on the top of the jar and on the honey in contact with the glass. Over time, the crystallization process continues until the entire pot hardens.
In winter, if you buy raw honeys, they may be solidified or in the process of solidifying, and in summer with higher temperatures, the honey remains in a liquid state for longer, or decrystallizes if it passes from a solid to a liquid state.
With de-crystallization, the honey can soften and form two phases. First the glucose enriched crystals, due to their greater weight, descend to the bottom of the container, and the solution enriched with levulose, of a dark colour, rises upwards. At this point, the honey is at risk of fermentation. Fermentation is not harmful to health, but it would give honey strange tastes and smells.
Picture 2: Raw honey packaging
Where to buy raw and unpasteurized honey in Madrid?
On the other hand, because raw honeys take on a more irregular colour, solidify and are more difficult to spread when used for breakfast, large supermarkets and many shops pasteurise honey, but pasteurisation causes a series of clear damage to its quality.
Pasteurisation of the honey consists of subjecting the honey to high temperatures of around 78°C for six or seven minutes, and then quickly cooling it. This process kills yeast, melts glucose crystals (remember that they are responsible for crystallization), destroys its enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants and other antibacterial components. Pasteurization therefore delays the crystallization of the honey, but at the same time destroys a large part of its organoleptic, healthy and curative properties.
The destruction of yeast prevents the honey from fermenting. However, packaging companies also take advantage of this process to further adjust the legal moisture limits, i.e. to add water, to increase the profitability of the honey. A quality honey, with a low water content is added water, and we get more honey.
Pasteurization destroys the delicate and pleasant flavors that are hidden in each variety of raw honey. It is also responsible for destroying enzymes that prevent either the bees or the flowers themselves, which are responsible for the activation of vitamins and minerals.
In our shop, El Cortijuelo de San Benito located in Las Rozas de Madrid you will find the largest variety of quality unpasteurized honeys in Spain and Europe, common varieties such as orange blossom honey, heather, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary and thyme and other less common varieties such as linden honey, manuka and coriander, exactly over 30 varieties from different parts of Spain and Europe.
Ecological raw honey
Many farmers for economic reasons do not label their honeys as organic honey, although they would easily pass these controls. It is true that organic raw honey is of enormous quality and has passed rigorous quality controls, but it is also true that if we buy the honey directly from a beekeeper, we can be very sure of its quality and that it has no trace of antibiotics. We have to take into account that the use of antibiotics in beekeeping is very controlled and cannot be used indiscriminately.
On the other hand, organic honeys that have been pasteurized and are not raw, do not make much sense. A honey, even if it is organic but has been pasteurized, has lost many of its properties. If we have to choose between pasteurised organic honey and non-organic raw honey, I would always recommend choosing raw honey.
However, in our online and physical shop we offer the largest selection of conventional and organic raw honeys in Spain and Europe.
Apart from our blog we also recommend the following link from the newspaper El País about food
Dangers of raw honey
The dangers of unpasteurized honey if the beekeeper has his facilities in optimal conditions are zero. This is not the case with honeys that are stored or packaged in places that do not have adequate cleaning conditions, as raw honey could store bacteria spores and when a person ingests raw honey with bacteria spores, these spores of bacteria develop and create a very serious infection in the person.
For this reason, we must consume quality raw honey from reliable beekeepers. We have visited all our beekeepers and asked for their health records, to ensure the highest quality and food safety of the raw honeys we sell in our sample physical store in Las Rozas de Madrid and online store.