Temperature and Texture – How Is Set Honey Made to Perfection?

Educational image titled 'How Is Set Honey Made?' displaying various honey products and flowers

Set honey, also known as creamed honey or soft set honey, is a type of honey that boasts a unique texture and is highly sought after for its smooth and spreadable consistency.

Unlike liquid honey, which can often be runny, set honey’s creamy texture is attributed to the fine crystals or grains that develop through controlled crystallisation.

The secret to producing high-quality set honey lies in carefully managing two critical factors: temperature and granulation.

Granulation is essential for creating creamy set honey. Seed honey is added to provide fine crystals that spread as it sets. Glucose crystallises first and acts as a seed, determining the texture. Gentle stirring distributes the seed crystals. With the right balance of floral source, glucose-fructose ratio, and temperature, honey crystallises into a smooth, spreadable cream.

The Secret to Soft Set Honey

The natural process of crystallisation in honey, known as granulation, is controlled to achieve a luscious, creamy texture and spreadable consistency in high-quality soft set honey.

soft set honey
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Soft set honey has a rich and spreadable texture with fine, smooth grains. It requires meticulous seeding for controlled granulation, unlike regular honey, which remains liquid or crystallises.

To make honey crystalize evenly, a small amount of pre-crystallized seed honey with very fine grains is mixed into the bulk honey while it is in a cooled, liquid state around 27°C. This seed honey acts as nuclei for crystals to form and spread evenly throughout the mixture as it sets. To prevent the growth of large, gritty crystals, the mixture is periodically and gently stirred, which distributes the seed crystals evenly.

The outcome is a soft set honey that has a smooth and creamy texture, making it easy to spread. No additives are utilised in creating this pure honey. Instead, the process involves precise temperature control and seeding to maintain controlled granulation. This 100% natural process helps preserve the delightful floral flavours in their most spreadable form.

The key to creating soft set honey lies in controlling its crystallisation by adding seed honey while it’s still liquid. By carefully selecting the right seed honey, mixing at the right temperature, and timing the process correctly, beekeepers can produce honeys with a delightful texture and flavour.

The Step-by-Step Seeding Process

How is set honey made
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How is set honey made? Follow these key steps for producing your own soft set honey:

Step 1: Allow extracted runny honey to initially crystallise naturally by storing it in 30 lb honey buckets for 1-2 weeks. This primes it for controlled re-crystallization. Honey from oil seed rape can start to crystallise very quickly.

Step 2: Select 1 lb of fine-grained, smooth seed honey for every 30 lbs of bulk honey. Proper seeding honey texture is crucial.

Step 3: Gently warm the bulk honey in a honey warming cabinet to liquefy it over 24-36 hours at 50°-52°C. It is important to go slow to preserve honey quality.

Step 4: Clarify the honey by straining it through a fine cloth or sieve to remove impurities and froth from the liquefied honey.

Step 5: Cool the bulk honey to 27°C before adding seed honey. Temperature is crucial for seeding success.

Step 6: Thoroughly mix the seed honey into the bulk honey, being careful not to incorporate air, to distribute crystallisation nuclei evenly.

Step 7: Allow the seeded honey to fully crystallise in a cool room at around 14°C over 1-2 weeks, with periodic gentle stirring.

Step 8: Gently warm the honey to 35°-38°C until smooth for bottling.

Step 9: Bottle the honey while it is still liquid, then store it in a cool place at around 14°C to maintain its texture.

Conclusion – How Is Set Honey Made?

Making soft set honey requires precise temperature control and controlled seeding to manage crystallisation.

Soft Set Honey 1 1
Instagram/@hannas_bees

During the seeding process, tiny nuclei are added to the honey to promote even crystallisation. To achieve this, finely-grained seed honey is introduced into cooled and liquefied bulk honey, allowing the crystals to grow in a controlled manner. The honey is then periodically and gently stirred to ensure it becomes a smooth and uniform texture.

Seeding alone is insufficient for achieving the desired consistency of honey. Accurate temperature control is crucial throughout the process – liquefying the honey by heating it, cooling it for seeding, maintaining a cool temperature during the setting process, and gently warming it before bottling. All these steps require careful temperature management, as even slight variations in temperature can result in a significant difference in texture, ranging from smooth cream to gritty granules.

By combining traditional craftsmanship with scientific knowledge of honey’s natural tendencies, we are able to create a set honey that has a smooth and spreadable consistency. This type of honey, known as “cream honey”, is quite different from the crystallised honey that comes straight from the comb. It has a delightful floral taste and a texture that is perfect for spreading on toast, biscuits, or pairing with cheese.

The next time you enjoy the smooth texture of honey, take a moment to appreciate the beekeeper’s natural processes in creating this delicious treat.

Next on your reading list: What is Raw Honey

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Jonathan Gaze

Content Editor

Hello there! I’m Jonathan Gaze, Content Editor for Harry Rufus.

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