Makeup of Honey
The makeup of honey consists of approximately: 34% Glucose, 42% Fructose, 17% Water, other sugars 4%, and other substances 3%.
The higher the glucose content, the more quickly the honey will granulate. Brassicas, i.e. mustard, kale, and rape produce small crystals and are ideal for seeding, but more of this later. Other honeys, like our own in this area are slower to set and form large coarse crystals.
After extraction, honey will show haziness, known as 'insipient granulation'. This is the first action of fine glucose crystals in the honey precipitating themselves out of the honey mass. This soon attracts more crystals as the honey changes from a soft and clear consistency to that of opaque hardiness to the point of spoon bending. This is 'natural crystallised' or Set honey.
Honey takes quite a time to set, which is fine, but these days people tend to prefer a smooth texture which is easy to handle without it dripping off the knife.
Seeding isn't exactly a dark art, it is more a way of manipulating the sugars to produce a product which the majority of consumers prefer. It can be consistently produced by beekeepers in a relative short time, and it's all down to temperature.
All honey must hoc filtered by running it through a 50 micron cloth.
Slowly warm your local honey to 125°F. When clear, cool to 65°F. Warm approximately 20% of your seed honey to 90°F until softened to the consistency of porridge and stir slowly with a spoon until free running. Pour the seed or fine grain honey into the bulk local honey, then stir again slowly but firmly to distribute the fine grain throughout the bulk. Using a hand drill or paint stirrer will make the job easier, but don't stir too quickly.
Set aside at 57°F for a few days. Once it has set it can be prepared for bottling.
Once again, warm slowly to 90°F. In less than a day the honey should have softened through, so slowly stir again until it is like pourable porridge then bottle in the normal way.
Put the jars in a cool place (57°F) for a few days. It will re-set at just about the consistency of putter.
Keep some back as seed for your next batch. Advantages are:- It's a good way of using up unpopular honey. It's usually in great demand, easy to spread, and it looks good.
Martin Ainsworth (from Manchester Bee News courtesy of BEES)
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