This article was translated from a Czech site Pleva.

Do you also wait until your tea is cold before you sweeten it? Or do you find it worthless to use it in baking or cooking because it’s going to lose its mojo in the oven? Lot of people are convinced that warming up honey somehow degrades it or makes it less beneficial for us. That’s why we got together with experts in the field of beekeeping, and we put together a simple summary of how to warm or cool your honey without a worry.

General Rule for honey warming

Most important rule regarding any work with honey: long-term exposure to heat higher than 70 °C damages the honey and healthy benefits are diminished. Quick heating and temperatures lower than 60 °C have no negative effects on honey.

You can sweeten your tea or coffee with honey

If you sweeten your beverages with honey, you probably already know that it contains hundreds of substances – among which are vitamins A, B and minerals. Some of these may transform due to high temperatures – same goes for this case, it depends on how long is the honey exposed to heat. Concerns regarding degradation of honey due to heat are overblown and exaggerated.

So let’s go over one scenario: Good morning! It’s about that time, let’s have a cup of black tea. As soon as the kettle clicks we pour the boiling water in the mug with the tea(bag). In the moment of boiling water is at 100 °C. But it cools down immediately when it makes contant with the cold mug and goes down to about 80 °C. Now the teabag needs to leach for a bit. Some people leave it there for 5 minutes, others for more than 10. The temperature keeps going down. You stir the tea with a cold spoon and now you are adding the honey to sweeten the tea. This is yet another exchange of heat. So that you can start sipping on your tea, it needs to be around 60 °C. So that would mean you are adding the honey at a moment where the temperature will not harm the honey in any way, on top of that you won’t be exposing the honey to the heat for a long time either. And the tea is getting gradually colder, you are not warming it up again. That’s why the honey will be intact. So that honey could be damaged it would need to be exposed to 80 °C for a full hour and that is definitely not likely to happen in an every day circumstance. The result of this experiment is clear: Most beneficial substances in honey are very stable and if we don’t add it immediately after pouring the boiling water, the tea itself is not hot enough for any damage to happen, either.

We do not recommend heating in the microwave

Reasoning is simple, the heating is not uniform and it’s rather fast, some parts will be exposed to higher temperatures than others. Research institute of beekeeing Dol states that several minutes of exposure to microwave heat is comparable to several days of regular hot bath in hot water. Honey will also froth in the microwave, aside from overheating.

If you need to warm up or melt the honey, we recommend hot bath or put the jar on a not too hot radiator, or near a stove or fireplace. Common trick that is used by clever housekeepers is bundling the jar of honey inside of a thick sweater and putting it on a radiator, such solution is tried and true.

When the research institute looked at the question of transformation of “biological value” by use of heat, the term itself, biological value, seemed hard to define. Current research suggests however, that even an event, such as heating in the microwave will not lower the value to half. So if you want to use the full value of honey, just use double the amount.

One other interesting observation was made thanks to the efforts of the researcher Marcela Bučeková, MSc, PhD who examined the heating in microwave and compared it to regular heating. The conclusion of this examination was unambiguous. The microwave heat causes substantial decrease of antibacterial activity in the honey. With regular heating using the hot bath or liquefying at 55 °C these substances do not decrease with a noticeable margin.

Baking with honey depends on the degree of heat

The amount of beneficial subtances in the resulting product after baking depends mainly on how long does the process take and what is the baking procedure. If we’re talking about quick baking where the honey is part of a dough, there may be many susbtances left over. For example the oven is set to 250 °C and the temperature of the dough does not exceed 80 °C. In such conditions, most of the benefits can remain.

Smaller treats or cookies that can be done within 3-5 minutes will most likely retain the benefits as well. If the baking takes longer or is for example on the surface, they most likely will diminish.

Low temperatures are OK

If for some reason you need to keep your honey in the fridge or freezer, don’t worry about negative effects, honey can stored in the cold without a problem.

There is no research that would suggest there are any negative consequences for honey if it’s exposed to freezing temps. The texture of honey and its viscosity should also not change very much – the degree of crystallization is not based on temperature but the origin of honey.

Bees make honey from nectar of flowers or honeydew and the same honey might not have the same form two years in a row. Generally, honeys that stay liquid the longest are acacia honeys. Honeys that crystallize quickly would be honeys made from the nectar of rapeseed. Don’t worry about putting your honey in the fridge or freezer, it will not negatively influence the quality at all.

This article was translated from a Czech site Pleva.

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