If you’ve ever shopped for honey, you’d notice that some bottles are labeled pasteurized, and others are labeled unpasteurized. You may assume that this is connected to making the honey safe for eating, as in the case of milk, but that is not the case. Honey isn’t pasteurized to make it safer for human consumption.
Pasteurizing honey involves heating it to above 70 degrees Celsius. This causes some of its nutrients to be destroyed and irreversibly alters its molecular structure. The honey will clear up and stay liquid for a considerably longer time.
In order to make commercial honey clearer and smoother, some commercial honey undergoes ultrafiltration in addition to pasteurization.
Why pasteurize honey?
The primary purpose of pasteurization is to slow the natural crystallization process, which occurs when liquid honey gradually becomes hard and coarse.
However, crystallization happens naturally. Therefore, even if the process takes longer with pasteurized honey, it will ultimately take place.
If you want to reverse the crystallization process, place the jar of honey, whether pasteurized or not, in a hot water bath at around 50°C while stirring. The honey should melt evenly and will return to its liquid state. Another trick is to place the jar of honey for several hours in an oven with only the light bulb on. The internal temperature of the oven will reach about 35-40°C. This will not melt honey into liquid, but it will soften up the honey.
You shouldn’t repeat this process too often because it reduces flavour and nutritional content.
Pasteurized Honey vs Unpasteurized Honey Vs Raw: Which Should You Get?
It all boils down to personal preference. If the consistency of your honey is most important to you, and you want it to stay liquid for as long as possible, keeping it pasteurized is fine.
The processing of pasteurized honey involves exposure to a high level of heat. The heat gives the honey a smoother texture, but unfortunately, the intense heat also largely eliminates the nutritious value of honey.
As a result, pasteurized honey will be deficient in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial enzymes.
If you’re more interested in getting all the health benefits, then avoiding processed food is the best way to go, and you should opt for unpasteurized honey or raw honey.
Raw honey is the healthiest option. However, because unpasteurized honey is heated slightly, it still loses some benefits. Raw honey is honey in its purest form, so it gives you all its nutritional benefits.