Serving-up Honey in Winter

IMG_6039We’re down to the final kilos of honey from our January harvest. It’s been stored in 20 kilo buckets which we pour into the bucket with a tap before filling jars. Or we did before the honey crystallised.

Once it started getting too thick to pour into jars, I started spooning it into jars. Lordy, is that a slow process. I did about 30 jars that way and then decided there had to be a better way. Like re-liquefying the honey.

IMG_6077IMG_6034IMG_6102IMG_6104-001After a bit of debating as to the best approach that was: a) easy and b) didn’t raise the temp of the honey to a point that damaged some of the good stuff in the honey, hubby and I opted for a warm water bath. To this end we

– Filled a plastic box with hot water.

– Put the honey bucket(s-2 of them) in a plastic rubbish bag to stop water reaching the tap and possibly working it’s way into the honey (this failed as the bag ended up wet inside and out but no water made it into the honey – whew).

– Plunked the honey bucket in the water bath.

– Dropped in a “heater” which is designed to keep a bucket of brewing beer warmish.

– Insulated the entire thing with a sleeping bag and some towels.

– Waited, and kept waiting.

The whole process was slow and we had to take out cooled water to be replaced with hot water (below 40 C didn’t seem to do anything to the crystallised honey) but every time I peeked, the liquid honey increased and the lump of solid honey shrunk so I kept on waiting.

The next morning – about 24 hours after filling the box – the honey was pretty well liquefied. It still held plenty of crystals but the bucket could be poured and jars filled from the tap.

This filling method may not have been quicker than using those 2 spoons, but boy did it take a lot less effort.

In less than a week, the honey in the jars was solidifying and the remaining honey in the last bucket was un-pourable again, but the lion’s share of the honey is now in jars ready for honey lovers to take home, which was the objective.

IMG_6108-001

 

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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22 Responses to Serving-up Honey in Winter

  1. Emily Scott says:

    Getting honey into jars never seems to be easy! How does it taste?

    • Fantastic. Though I’m biased – I’ve rarely tasted a honey I don’t like. This one is a rather complex floral taste with a long, sweet (but not too sweet) after taste – no bitterness. Everyone who’s tried it, loves it and even friends who told me they aren’t honey eaters are now coming back for refills so maybe it’s not just my bias.

      Getting the honey into jars has been a pain but at least we could spin ours out. You had to struggle with even that so I’m not going to complain (too much 🙂 )

  2. oh golly that looks wonderful. I love the taste of honey when it has crystalized. Clever thinking to melt it that way.

  3. looks like lovely dark honey – gorgeous. We always jar ours up straight away but sometimes it does go solid.

    • Well, we harvested about 250 kgs and that’s a few too many jars to stack in the corner! We tend to bottle as we need it, partly because we use different bottles depending on where the honey’s going. For example, we have a friend who eats about a kilo a week (she and her hubby so I guess that’s only 1/2 kg per person) and we have 2 jars for them which we swap and fill each time they need more. Sometimes I think we should give them a 20 kg bucket and a ladle and let them sit, eat and be merry!

  4. It looks delicious. Just a comment, I like liquid honey, I like crystallised honey (advantage – you don’t get so sticky eating it on your toast) and I like it in the comb. Amelia

    • A girl after my own heart. Any form at all, just give it to me and I’ll gobble it up. I’m with you on the crystallised honey on toast. But have you noticed that you not only don’t get sticky but you can pile on about twice as much honey without it running all over your plate!

  5. Beautiful rich honey, it looks so much darker and creamier than ours. Delicious to cook with, spoon over toast, cereals, cakes, and glazed vegetables… mmm, yum!

  6. Hopefully I have enough to keep me going till the next crop. 250Kg – how many hives do you have?

    Do you have small hive beetle? I wrote about this beetle and the Asian Hornet, Vespa veluntina over Winter.

    • 250 kg is about what we got last year and it lasted us 3 months. 250 kg looks like a lot in buckets but it can walk out the door quickly! Right now we have 24 hives. Last year was dreadful – a drought, some sort of pesticide poisoning (we think, though the EPA couldn’t confirm it), EFB over winter (probably because the weakened state of the hives after the pesticide trouble). We lost almost half our hives as a result. We did some splitting this spring to try to bring the numbers back. I don’t expect much honey at all because the colonies started the spring so weak and then we split the poor things. But we’re getting nice rain this year (hooray) and so there’s plenty of nectar and pollen and so who knows!

      We do have small hive beetle. Last year it wasn’t a problem – the beetles like it more humid than we had it. But this year, we’re getting heaps again. That rain is a two edged sword. We use oil traps (kitchen veggie oil) that hang under the bottom board (which has narrow slots in it to trap the beetles and larvae) so we can check and clean them out without disturbing the hive. We also have similar oil traps that hang between frames for hives with a bad infestation but that hasn’t been needed yet (fingers crossed). We don’t have hornet problems (more finger crossing this remains so).

      Hey, I just clicked on the link to your beetle post – and there’s my photo 🙂 Sorry I missed reading it when you first posted it!

  7. Narelle says:

    Hi Laura

    Bought a jar of your honey at Riverview Produce this morning. Yum! Very sweet, with a hint of passionfruit.

    • How fantastic! I love helping locals eating local, raw honey. As for the passionfruit…. it could be. We certainly have a lush passionfruit vine on the property. Unfortunately both the possums and our dog love passionfruit so we never get to eat any ourselves. Luckily the bees get their nectar before the possums and dog take notice 🙂

      • Narelle says:

        We are in the lower mountains. We have a mango tree, and never get any fruit. Same for the grapes, blueberries, chillis,, etc. If it isn’t our dogs or the possums, it’s the satin bower birds. We would be very hungry farmers. We are soon to have our first go of beekeeping.

        • This is a great part of the world for keeping bees. And, as a hungry farmer myself, I can say that nothing else is eating the honey before I get to it. dogs, possums and birds give the hives a wide berth 🙂 When you do get ready to start with beekeeping, why not join the local beekeepers club? There’s a Nepean branch that meets at Emu plains http://www.beekeepers.asn.au/nepean/ That’s where hubby and I go. Maybe we’ll see you there.

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