To maintain Kiawe honey's wonderful taste, texture and nutritional qualities Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey is offered in its pure, natural state - unfiltered and with no heat ever applied to it. The collection and extraction process is accomplished organically, using no poisons, chemicals or additives. Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey is as close to its natural state as possible except that it is in a jar.
There is an intricate, interconnected process and circumstances that are essential to maintain the natural excellence of Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey.PURITY ~ TIMING ~ CRYSTALLIZATION ~ HEAT ~ ENZYMES ~ FILTERING
Purity is the first major factor essential to the natural excellence of our Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey. The nectar collected by the bees comes from the flowers of only the Kiawe tree and is not mixed with the nectars from other flowers. The purer the Kiawe honey, the closer it is to pure white in color and the more delicate the taste and smooth the texture.
The honey must be kept free from not only the nectars of other flowers but also any impurities. Impurities in the honey can form nuclei around which large crystals will grow and destroy the naturally creamy texture of pure Kiawe honey. This requires that the honey comb in the hive be kept meticulously clean of all impurities and especially all old crystallized honey.
In order to extract the honey, the combs must be brought to the honey-house, but the bees must be left behind at their hive. VIHC employs no artificial or toxic substances or violent methods to harvest our honey. Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey is collected by using a one way door (called a "bee-escape") to allow the bees to leave the box of combs and rejoin their colony, but not re-enter the combs of honey to be harvested. VIHC does not use toxics or chemicals to treat diseases in the hive. Using natural methods to promote strong colonies keeps the colonies healthy.
Many commercial beekeepers use poison, inserted into the hive on a "fume board", to chase the bees from the hive so they can remove the honey and not the bees and many use a variety of toxic chemicals in the hive to protect or counteract disease.
Obtaining Kiawe honey in its natural state - unheated and unfiltered - is a process that must be timed exactly, making it a virtually "hand-picked" honey. The honey cannot be harvested too early or too late.
Bees collect nectar (a sweet, fragrant liquid produced by flowers to attract pollinators) from flowers and bring it home to the hive. On the flight back to the hive the bees add enzymes to the nectar. After the nectar is deposited into the wax cells in the honeycomb, it is ripened into honey by the bees fanning it with their wings until the excess moisture is evaporated. They then cap over the honey-filled combs with wax to preserve it.
If the honey is harvested too early, before it is ripe, the water content in the honey will be too high which can cause the honey to ferment in the jar. On the other hand, if the honey is harvested from the hive too late it will have crystallized (solidified) in the wax comb inside the hive. Since Kiawe honey has a strong, natural inclination to form rapidly growing crystals, crystallized honey in the comb is a strong possibility. Once the honey is crystallized in the honeycomb, then the only way to extract the honey is to heat the comb until both the wax and honey melt and become liquid. This heating would radically alter the naturally exquisite taste, texture, color and nutritional qualities of this rare honey.
So, there exists only a very small window of time between picking the honey too soon or picking it too late. Harvesting Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey so that it will neither ferment nor have to be heated, and thus preserving its naturally delectable tropical essence is an example of the art of natural beekeeping.
Nearly all honeys crystallize naturally. Crystallization is affected by heat and impurities in the honey. It is the nature of pure Kiawe honey to crystallize very rapidly. The crystals formed by rapid crystallization are very tiny; and, tiny crystals are what give Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey its firm, smooth texture. The crystals in pure kiawe honey are "alive" and active. The thick, viscous, liquid honey that goes into the jar is transformed within a few days into the firm, silky texture by the growing crystals.
Crystallization and Impurities:
The growth and size of crystals in honey is affected by the size and amount of crystals already present in the combs. To maintain the naturally smooth and creamy texture of pure Kiawe honey the combs must kept totally free of old crystals. So, while the rapid crystallization causes the wonderful creamy texture of this honey, it also makes it necessary to "pick" the honey before it crystallizes in the hive.
Kiawe honey's crystallization takes place so rapidly that a mistake in timing before it is bottled could easily allow the entire contents of a large stainless steel vat filled with Kiawe honey to solidify into one huge thousand pound chunk. In order to remove it from the tank for bottling it would be necessary to melt it, thus ruining its gourmet delicacy and nutritional qualities.
Crystallization and heat:
Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey never has heat applied to it at any stage of its production. Heating honey retards the natural crystallization process. If crystallization takes place slowly, the crystals grow to a larger size making the honey granular in texture, which is hard on the tongue and palate and crunchy like sand on the teeth. Any heat applied to pure Kiawe honey will slow down the crystallization process and increase the size of the crystals. Even in the jar, if it is melted (say inside a hot car), it can re-crystallize into large unpalatable crystals
Heating any honey, depending upon the amount and duration of heat applied can negatively affect not only the crystallization, but the taste and color of the honey, as well as its nutritional composition and value. Proteins and enzymes occur naturally in all honeys in tiny particles of pollen. Heating can damage or destroy some of the constituents of the proteins that are found in honey, as well as cause the proteins to have a very unpleasant taste. Heating the honey will also darken the color.
Many beekeepers heat honey to make it easier to handle (honey's natural viscosity makes it very slow moving for handling and bottling). Even honey that is called "raw" may have had damaging heat applied to it during extraction and bottling.
All natural honey that has not been heated contains beneficial enzymes. Unheated honey is a live food because it has naturally occurring, living enzymes in it. The enzymes found in honey (which are not found in other sugars and sweeteners) help in the digestion of the honey and other foods . Heating honey will kill its naturally occurring enzymes. Although all honeys can be damaged by heat, Kiawe honey is particularly sensitive to heat.
We use a cold, centrifugal, extraction process to get Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey from the comb into the jar. This cold extraction process allows the naturally occurring enzymes to remain intact and active in the honey. Even after bottled, these enzymes are actively transforming the constituents of the honey, in particular the sugars. Once in the jar Kiawe honey must be kept tightly sealed and away from high heat.
Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey is strained through nylon mesh to remove large particles. This straining allows tiny pieces of pollen, propolis and wax that contain important nutrients and antibacterial qualities to remain in the honey.
Many beekeepers not only heat their honey, but use special equipment to pressure pump the honey through very fine filters in an attempt to get a product that is void of every tiny particle and always tastes the same. In the process much of the honey's natural value is lost. Unfiltered honey contains tiny particles of pollen; pollen is a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Heavy filtering eliminates this valuable nutritional source.