Honey is the natural thick syrup that bees create throughout their lives. It’s full of nutrition and has been linked to countless health benefits. However, did you know that the honey you buy at the grocery store may not be honey at all? Most honey brands are just a mixture of substances that taste like the real thing. There are several terms used to describe the different types of honey and this normally causes confusion. Some brands claim to sell pure honey while others sell organic or pure organic honey. And then, there is real and fake honey. The best honey is the one purchased directly from the beekeeper. However, seeing as this is not achievable in most cases, this article shares the differences you need to watch out for when selecting honey to avoid buying fake honey.

What is fake honey and what is it made of?

This is a question that you must be asking yourself every time you set out to buy honey. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are two kinds of fake honey. One version is made of a small percentage of real honey, which is combined with sugary syrups like high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, and glucose. The other version is made of sugary syrups, food colors, and additives that give it the look and taste of real honey while it actually doesn’t contain even a small trace of honey. Producers find processing honey this way a cheaper alternative and more profitable. The bad news is that fake honey doesn’t supply the nutritional value of real honey. Since it’s highly processed and contains additives and added sugars, it might have a negative impact on your health if used for a long time.

Real Honey

Honeybees are known for making honey from the nectars of flowers. This is the pure natural and real honey that we should be consuming. Its nutritional value is high and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which make it effective in treating wounds and minor burns. It’s also an immune booster and is great if taken every morning in warm water. Reading the labels of various brands can be misleading since food regulations are somewhat dodgy. The following simple tests will help you differentiate real honey and fake honey.

Water Test

Put one tablespoon of honey in a glass full of water and observe closely. Adulterated or fake honey will dissolve in the water while real honey will settle at the bottom of the glass forming lumps. When mixed with methylated spirit, fake honey dissolves and the solution becomes milky while real honey settles at the bottom of the jar. Alternatively, you can use a blotting paper or plain white cloth to test the quality of honey. Real honey won’t get absorbed or leave stains on the paper or cloth.

Heat Test

Pure or real honey doesn’t foam and caramelizes quickly when heated. This is not the case for fake honey which foams or becomes bubbly on heating showing that it contains added moisture and other additives.

Flame Test

Immerse a matchstick in honey and try to light it. If the matchstick lights easily without hesitation and keeps burning off the honey, then that’s pure honey. However, if it doesn’t light, it means the honey you bought has moisture and is, therefore, fake.

Bread Test

Applying pure honey on a slice of bread should harden it and make it a bit crunchy when you bite on the slice of bread. On the other hand, applying fake honey softens the slice of bread because of the moisture content.

Egg Yolk Test

Take a few egg yolks and put them in a bowl. Now take honey, pour it over the egg yolks and stir the mixture. If the mixture turns and appears as if it’s cooked, then you have real honey. But, when the mixture remains the same, then the honey is fake.

Thumb Test

Take a small amount of the honey you have and put it on your thumb. Real honey will not spread or spill around, but rather will stay intact on your thumb. Pure honey is thick and not runny making it hard to spread like any other liquid. Moreover, if you rub real honey between fingers, it doesn’t feel sticky like fake honey. The stickiness comes from sugary syrups and other additives.

Differentiate the Taste

If you’re experienced, you’ll instantly notice the flavor or additives in processed honey. Additionally, the taste of real honey is rich and pleasant, and should only linger in your mouth for a short while. If minutes after tasting the honey you’re still left with a sugary flavor, then that’s a sign of fake honey. Unfortunately, most of these methods can only be applied after purchasing honey from the grocery store. A quick test is to turn the jar or bottle of honey upside down before buying it. Real honey takes time to move up and doesn’t form bubbles. There you have it. The next time you go honey-buying, you have all the tools you need to detect fake honey.

All images by Pixabay


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