Many consumers prefer their honey creamed. Its easier to handle, and when its done well, it has a melt-in-your mouth lusciousness.
But most consumers would be forgiven for being confused about what makes it different from normal honey.
That’s not just because it has a lot of different names in the marketplace, including whipped honey, soft-set honey, pot-set honey.
Creamed honey also looks a lot like crystallized honey, sometimes called candied or granulated honey.
So this article tries to explain the difference.
1, Creamed honey is deliberately crystallized honey.
The first thing to understand about creamed honey is that it is just normal honey that has been deliberately crystallized.
But instead of letting the honey crystallize naturally, which can take a long time, and often produces an uneven and unattractive result, creamed honey is deliberately stimulated to crystallize.
A small amount of already crystallized honey is added to normal or fresh honey, typically in a ratio of around 10% already crystallized honey to 90% normal honey.
Seeding the honey with already crystallized honey, and then storing for the next week or so at a controlled temperature of around 14 degrees centigrade ( 57 fahrenheit) will generally give the honey enough time to completely crystallize.
So long as the already crystallized honey used to ‘seed’ or start the process was comprised of very small crystals, the end result should be a lovely creamed honey.
2, Where does whipping come in?
The second thing to understand about creamed honey is that the size of the crystals in the seeding honey is very important.
That’s because the entire batch will crystallize with the same size crystals introduced with the seed honey.
But some honeys naturally produce quite large crystals when left to crystallize naturally.
So whipping the honey will tend to break down and crush any large crystals into a more usable size.
Whipping or at least stirring the seeded honey mixture will also help the creamed honey to have a uniform colour as well as texture.
It is possible to make very large batches of creamed honey, but whipping or stirring a large vat of honey is no easy task.
Honey is a viscous liquid, much thicker than many others and difficult to stir or mix. It requires a lot of energy and the bigger the batch, the more energy required.
Moreover the process of crystallization is more certain, and more likely to produce a uniform result in a short period of time if it is done in relatively small batches
A small tub or pot such as the one in which the honey is going to be sold is ideal.
So that is why some producers market their creamed honey as pot-set. The creaming process has been done inside the actual container or pot in which the honey is being sold.
4, The Dyce method
Professor Dyce at Yale university in the US patented the process back in the 1930s.
The process is the same as that described above, except that it also specifies the honey must be filtered first to remove any small particles left over in the honey from harvesting, (such as bits of dirt, bees wax, bee wings etc).
Just as with normal raw honeys, those small particles can speed-up the process of crystallization by acting as the nuclei for the sugar crystals to form.
Warming or heating honey to 60 or 70 degrees centigrade makes it very liquid and much easier to filter. And at that temperature any potentially harmful spores in the honey, such as clostridium, and yeast spores will be killed off.
This is the process called as pasteurization and so the two processes, i.e. of fine filtration and pasteurization, are commonly used by major commercial honey packers.
Pasteurizing honey probably kills off some of its natural health-promoting properties, so some honey enthusiasts prefer to use unpasteurized honey for their creamed product.
5, Manuka honey
Some honeys, like the famous Manuka honey, are notorious for either crystallizing very quickly or crystallizing into very large chunky crystals.
That’s why many Manuka honey producers deliberately process their honey into a creamed style.
It avoids the honey changing texture during its storage life, and also ensures it retains a uniform texture, colour and flavour.
Moreover so long as it has not been pasteurised, the process is unlikely to have any impact or affect on the unique anti-bacterial properties of Manuka honey.
Many consumers don‘t like their honey crystallizing, and think that it has gone bad and no longer be good to eat.
Certainly If the crystallization process has released some water from the honey, and yeasts in the honey have started fermenting, then the honey mixture might even start to taste a little bitter.
So although crystallized honey can often be readily returned to a liquid state simply by warming, it is understandable that many consumers are wary about crystallized or candied honey.
And that’s part of the reason why honey marketers and producers rarely describe their creamed honey as deliberately crystallized or candied.
Better to say its whipped or pot-set, or soft- set.
Of course, if the average consumer was more knowledgable about honey and crystallization, they'd be less likely to be afraid of crystallization, and more ready to try and/or buy creamed honey.
For more information on creamed honey or the Dyce method wikipedia is a good place to start.
R Stephens creamed leatherwood honey is on sale at Australian honey.com for just $9.75 per 500 gram tub.