Contributed by J. Morgan, original post at www.allmorgan.com
Making creamed honey is a very simple process. It’s creamy texture makes it more versatile to use since it can be used like a spread. If you spread it on a sandwich, it will not squish out like honey might. Let’s understand the basic science behind creamed honey.
What is creamed honey? Often called spun honey, or whipped honey, there really shouldn’t be any air in your creamed honey. Creamed honey is simply the controlled crystallization of honey. By controlling it, the crystals are very fine and smooth vs. the grittiness of honey that was left to granulate in the jar in your pantry. The smaller the crystals, the better the creamed honey. A good creamed honey should be smooth like velvet on your tongue.
Two main things we need for the best control is a good starter (or seed), and a 57° F environment in which to let it set. Following are the basic steps to making your own creamed honey.
- Source your starter. You can supposedly buy a starter from your bee supply. I have never done this. You could also buy a small jar of creamed honey from the store, or even better, another beekeeper. The idea is to get a “seed” that will provide the crystallization template that your bulk honey will follow. After you make your first batch, you never have to buy a starter again if you save some of your creamed honey to add to your next batch. I have read that you do not want to use honey that has already granulated, but that is just what I use to make my creamed honey, and with great success! I warm up this granulated honey… but only a little! Just enough to put into a blender or food processor to whip the heck out of it! When that honey reaches the desired creaminess, you have a good starter. Taste it, and feel the texture on your tongue. It should be immediately palatable.
- Prepare your bulk honey. There are varying points of view on this one. Some recipes suggest heating the honey to 140 degrees, then cooling it down quickly (in the refrigerator or a deep freeze). This supposedly makes it so your creamed honey will not ferment, but of course, the honey will lose some of its medicinal properties when heated to this temperature. Again, I myself like to use my honey that has already granulated. I take this honey, and heat it up just enough (stirring often) to turn the granulated honey back to a liquid. If you have heated your honey, you then need to cool it back down to room temperature as quickly as possible. I put mine in a 5-gal bucket and put it in my deep freeze. I check it with a candy thermometer until it’s back down to room temperature (about 70° F).
- Mix your starter into the bulk honey. When you have your honey back to room temperature, blend in the starter at a ratio of about 10 parts liquid honey to 1 part starter, and just know that this measurement does not have to be exact. Just mix until the starter is evenly distributed throughout your bulk honey.
- Add flavorings. Completely optional. Flavoring your honey is only limited by your imagination. You can buy flavorings, try extracts, or get creative. Think jalapeno, cinnamon, nutmeg, blueberry, and more. Add these in before you bottle your creamed honey to let it set.
- Bottle it up and let the crystallization begin. Bottle into your preferred containers. A container with a wide-mouth is advised here, so that it can be scooped out with a knife or spoon. Use a mason jar, or the same plastic containers that butter spreads come in. Bottling it now will make it so any air will rise to the top. You can leave it, or scoop it off. I leave it so that the surface looks untouched to the customer you might sell it to. When the crystallization is set, you will already have it in the proper containers.
- Storage. If you have a room that maintains a temperature of around 57° F, this is where to store your honey. The idea is to let the starter crystallize the bulk honey into the creamy consistency of your starter. Having a 57° F environment optimizes this process. I rigged up a little dorm room fridge that was plugged into a temperature control that I could set. This ensured the proper temperature and it did give me a good set. If you don’t want to go through the hassle, put it in the coolest place you know (but not the fridge) during the crystallization process. This is where your honey should set until you use it, or sell it.
If you heat creamed honey, it will loosen. If you put in the fridge, it will tighten. There’s no wrong way. Store it the way you like it. I have tried it in the fridge to firm it up even more, and it’s really good with a little chill on it.