STORING OF HONEY

When you buy honey of high quality, the question always arises of how it is best to keep it in winter and spring till the new harvest appears.

It often happens that after some time we see that the product has gone bad, lost its aroma, taste and even appearance, letting alone its useful properties. Certainly, we are inclined to blame the producers, not realizing that this condition of honey is the result of its wrong storage.

Not only various bacteria but also fungi die in honey. If kept correctly, it does not lose its antiseptic properties and never gets moldy. Archeologists say that a clay vessel was once found in a pyramid in Egypt, containing honey that had been preserved there for more than 3,000 years. It seems mind-blowing but that honey still had its typical aroma. This is another proof that due to its antimicrobial and antifungal properties honey can be stored under good conditions for not only many years, decades or centuries but also millennia. The best way to store honey is in honeycombs. Honey in combs and sections must be stored wrapped in cellulose film or wax-treated parchment paper, if intended for long-term keeping.

Honey for long-term storage is kept in clean containers made of glass or aluminum, and if stored for a short period of time (up to a year), then food-grade plastic is suitable too. Honey must not be put in a container with the rests of an old product.

Honey must not be stored in vessels made of copper, zinc, lead or their alloys because under the influence of acids that are contained in honey new chemical substances appear that can cause serious poisoning. Iron containers are also contra-indicated because as a result of a long-term contact with acids in honey iron gets corroded and honey receives unpleasant taste and odor.

The main enemies of honey are humidity, light and high temperature.

Honey is characterized by high hygroscopic property (ability to absorb and retain water vapors from humid air and package materials), that is why it should be stored in a hermetic package in a clean aired room with good ventilation and humidity of not more than 60-70%. Higher air humidity can lead to the increase of permissible water content in honey. The product gets fermented, bubbles appear inside and honey develops a sour smell and unpleasant taste.

Air-proof package also helps to protect honey from evaporation of natural aromatic substances and accumulation of foreign smells.

The best container for storing honey at home is a glass jar with a tight covers It should be kept in a dark room because sunlight, direct sun rays and even diffused light make honey turn dark sooner and lose its quality. 48 hours of constant illumination with sunlight destroy some ferments completely, for example, inhibin. But it is this ferment that antimicrobial properties of honey are attributed to. Such honey will not damage your body but it is not going to do you any good either because the product may have lost most of its useful qualities.

The best temperature for storing honey is in the range from 0 to 15°C. At temperatures below zero numerous amino acids and vitamins in honey are destroyed and if temperature is above 20°C, tastiness of honey is impaired, the product loses its aroma, and its color can also get changed.

It is strictly not recommended to heat honey over 400С because vitamins are destroyed completely. Starting with 500С honey loses its bactericidal properties and aroma quickly, at 600С it loses its ferments and in case of prolonged heating at 800С and above sugars are destroyed and a great amount of hydroxymethylfurfurol (HMF) develops. For this reason low content of HMF is a valuable sign of careful and correct procession and storage of honey. HMF content in fresh honey is very low if bees were not fed with products that contained HMF, for instance, overheated honey, invert syrup, etc. If the amount of this substance is high, it is possible to prove that honey is fake, artificial or invert sugar has been added to it or this honey is overheated, i.e. it has already lost most of its vitamin properties.

If honey is stored for more than a year, its biological activity reduces steadily. For example, when honey is kept at 23-280С for 8 to 12 months, its antimicrobial properties, the amount of glucose and fructose decrease by 5-10%, the content of vitamins В1, В2 and С decreases by 10-20%, diastatic number becomes twice as low and the content of sucrose and acids grows. The higher the temperature of storage is, the more substantially the properties of honey degrade.

Healing properties of honey and its edible qualities depend directly on the correctness of its storage. But if honey is used for healing, it should not be stored for more than a year.