Producing Set Honey

Honey straight from the extractor will set solid and very hard in time, very soon with Oil Seed Rape (O.S.R.).

Extracted honey is best stored in 30 lb containers “honey buckets” until ready for use where it will undergo its first granulation.

Before starting obtain a seed honey with a smooth fine grain texture, not course and “gritty”.   You will need 1 lb. of seed honey for every 30lb. you wish to bottle.

The container of bulk honey must be gently heated to a temperature of about 50° to 52° C. (120° to 125° F.).  This will take between 24 and 36 hours depending to the ambient temperature.  Warming is most efficiently performed in a honey warming cabinet – these can be made rather than bought and a number of designs are available on the internet (links to be added later).

When liquefied, clear any froth etc from the top of the honey and then pour through a fine straining cloth into a settling tank. Every last particle of “bits and pieces” must be removed at this stage.  If not it is bound to show up in your jar of set honey.

The next stage is to seed the liquefied honey. Run the honey back into clean 30 lb. containers not quite filling to allow space for the seeding honey to be added and stirred thoroughly into the bulk.

Do not add the seed honey until the temperature of the bulk honey has dropped to about 27° C. (80° F.) to avoid melting the seed honey that is being added.  It is the preservation of the fine grain of the seed honey which is necessary to the successful setting of the bulk honey.

Add the seed honey to the bulk in the ratio of 1 lb. to 30 lb. of liquid honey. Stir in thoroughly, seal the container and put aside where it will set, but never as hard as the first granulation.

When ready to bottle, heat the container to between 35° C. and 38° C. (95° and 100° F.).  Time will again depend upon ambient temperature but is usually about 12 to 18 hours.  The honey will appear still solid but is in fact soft and pliable. The honey should be broken down into a fluid state with a honey masher or similar tool.  Pour into the bottling tank in a room warm and allow to settle for an hour or so to allow any bubbles to rise to the top.  To keep the honey as fluid as possible for easy bottling, prevent heat loss from the tank by insulating with a cover (blanket or insulation sold for hot water cylinders for example).  The colder the honey becomes the slower it will run through the tap.

Run the honey into bottles where it will now set for the final time.  Store jars in a cool place away from direct sunlight.  Remember it can liquefy at 32° C. (90° F.) or even less.

With thanks G. V. Bazin for his original notes.