Raw honey, also known as unpasteurized honey, refers to honey that has not gone through any heating process. Some people prefer honey unpasteurized because the enzymes, phytochemicals and essential nutrients contained in honey will be destroyed when it is heated above 152 degrees Celcius. The temperature also depends on the source, type of heating and the containers used.
Raw honey has a high potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, protein, carbohydrates and vitamin C content. It is also a strong antibacterial agent, an excellent immunity builder and energy booster. Honey in this form is often applied to burns as an antiseptic and a painkiller. It is applied to wounds because it dries to form some sort of a natural bandage, and heals the wound quicker. Because of this, many medical professionals prefer to use unpasteurized honey. Besides that, honey that is not processed is easier to digest compared to processed ones. Some people find that digesting starchy food such as bread is easy when raw honey is spread on it. This is because it is rich in amylase, the enzyme that facilitates digestion. The amylase converts starch into maltose sugar.
Raw honey also contains small amounts of other bee products such as pollen, propolis and waxes that each has their own special properties. Women who use honey in their beauty recipe, especially for skin care, prefer to use unpasteurized honey to get optimum results.One way to tell whether the honey is unpasteurized is by looking at its color. Unpasteurized honey has a cloudy, off-white color and it is transparent. It is much thicker and has a very rich and sweet flavor. The best raw honey is usually found in a more solid form.
So why would anyone pasteurize honey if unpasteurized honey has all those great benefits? Well the purpose of pasteurizing honey is actually to kill the osmophilic yeasts, keeping it from being fermented and delay crystallization. Osmophilic yeasts will die when honey is exposed to temperatures between 60 to 65 degrees Celcius.
What Kind of Honey is Highly Pasteurized?
Not all types of honey is pasteurized, but the ones that have water content above 19% are more likely to be fermented and therefore should be pasteurized. Pasteurization is often done for industrial purposes to protect honey from being fermented.
I’ve got one interesting thing to share with you: A mixture of water and raw honey is found to have calming effect on the bees and for this reason, beekeepers will spray the bees with this mixture to calm the hive. But when they use pasteurized honey to do this, the bees were found dead within 20 minutes!
Okay, with all these great benefits of unpasteurized honey, I just need to remind you that it is not recommended for babies. This is because it may contain small amounts of the botulin toxin. In an adult’s mature digestive tract, this toxin can be easily denatured by stomach acid. However, since the digestive systems of babies are still immature and underdeveloped and thus do not produce enough acid to kill the botulin toxin, they may not have the ability to destroy this toxin and cause a type of acute food poisoning known as infant botulism.