Bees work hard to create all honey, but the steps that honey takes on its journey from the hive to your home can make a big difference in the quality of honey you’ll enjoy.
There are two main categories of honey: raw and pasteurized. Because pasteurized honey is extremely common, you may not realize just how different raw honey and pasteurized honey really are, but there are some big distinctions.
Raw and Pasteurized Honey: How They Compare
Honey is inherently unique—it’s a little view into the lives of the bees that created it. But pasteurization (the process of heating honey for a period of time, usually to extend its shelf life) can take away some of its most distinctive qualities, like:
- Beneficial enzymes — Raw honey boasts many famous benefits, thanks in part to its enzyme content. When honey is heated for too long, those enzymes break down and are lost.
- Delicate floral flavors — As any true honey lover knows, the most subtle flavors in a particular honey are sometimes the most memorable. Unfortunately, delicate floral flavor notes can also be lost in pasteurization.
- Pollen & propolis — Sometimes referred to as ‘impurities,’ pollen and propolis are filtered out during pasteurization, even though they’re powerful players in the world of apitherapy.
There are some other major differences between raw and pasteurized honey, like the fact that pasteurized honey may contain added sugar. Ultimately, it’s key to remember that the more honey is processed, the more it tends to lose its unique characteristics.
If you love honey for its benefits as well as its taste, then you may want to opt for raw over pasteurized. The less honey is handled once it leaves the hive, the more beneficial it may be. After all, nobody does honey better than bees themselves.