How do you know you’re buying real honey? If you’re not purchasing it directly from a beekeeper, it may be overwhelming to decide between the different brands and varietals available on the market. It has been estimated that almost three-fourths of honey on sale at some US grocery stores, discount clubs and big box retailers is not actually honey. It’s a processed product that has been stripped of pollen, nutrients, enzymes, and vitamins. What’s left in the jar is just sweetened syrup. Alarmingly, some manufacturers even add artificial sweeteners and corn syrup to make the “honey” cheaper by diluting the original product. There’s also the risk that you may be buying adulterated honey containing pesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants that was imported illegally from China.
Fortunately, there are four easy tests that can be done at home to reassure yourself that the product you bought is really honey. Furthermore, make sure to read the label about where the honey came from and not where it was bottled at—as unscrupulous producers try to mislead consumers by claiming their honey was bottled in the United States and not mentioning where it was originally obtained. There are a lot of wonderful honeys from all around the world and buying these boutique brands at specialty shops and gourmet online retailers is not a problem. Just know the source and you’ll be fine.
How to Tell the Difference Between Real and Fake Honey:
The Crystallization Test
As honey is made from nectar, bees process it and infuse it with special enzymes. One of these enzymes, glucose oxidase, helps to remove any water from the honey. The result of this process is that natural honey has a tendency to crystallize and become thicker when stored. Artificial honey will not.
The Water Test
Real honey doesn’t mix readily with water. Just drop a teaspoon into a glass of water and you’ll see that it settles at the bottom of your container. To incorporate it into the liquid, real honey needs to be stirred. Fake honey, on the other hand, easily dissolves in water without even mixing.
The Paper Test
Place a few drops of the sample you are testing on a paper towel or napkin. If the honey is pure, it will remain solid and not soak through. If the honey is impure, it will wet the paper and maybe even soak through it.
The Microwave Test
Add about 2 tablespoons of your sample to a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for 45 to 60 seconds. Natural honey will caramelize quickly while artificial honey will become foamy and bubbly.
The Bread Test
Spread your sample on a slice of bread. If it is genuine honey, the bread will become crunchy on top within a couple of minutes. If the honey is counterfeit, the bread will become soggy (because of its different moisture content).
Take a bite of the real stuff and enjoy…it passed the test!