In this article, we take a look at the natural temperature range of raw honey. Does heating honey destroy its properties? We will discuss the effect of temperature on the properties of honey and what temperature causes the loss of honey enzymes. The short answer is that heating honey to a temperature above body temperature is harmful.
What is honey?
Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution that contains 80 to 83% of soluble sugars – mainly glucose, fructose and sucrose. Depending on the type of flower that the bees visit, we can find other strange and wonderful sugars in honey. Protea, for example, is the source of xylose honey.
The rest of the honey (less than 20%) is water. There are several salts, enzymes and phytochemicals in the composition of honey.
Phytochemical compounds of honey
The nectar in flowers is as varied as the flowers themselves. There are approximately 369,000 species of flowering plants. Plants are dying faster than new species can be described. Each plant has its own unique composition of phytochemicals. These are also called phytochemicals – Chemicals from plants. Phytochemicals include natural dyes, flavorings, active pharmaceutical compounds and enzymes. There are even toxins in certain nectars.
As mentioned earlier, there are many types of plants. The list of phytochemicals produced by these plants is very long. In most cases, plants really want the best for their pollinators (bees and other pollinators), so many of these phytochemicals actually help the bees. These chemicals also help us when we consume honey.
Enzymes in honey
The three main enzymes are added to raw honey by bees. Invertase is an enzyme that breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose. Amylase / diastase breaks down starch-like polysaccharides into glucose. Glucose oxidase reacts with glucose and oxygen to produce peroxide and gluconolactone.
At what temperature does raw honey lose its benefits?
In general, the temperature that bee larvae experience in the hive is approximately 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). The honey itself should not be exposed to temperatures above 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.66 degrees Celsius). Generally, honey will be slightly cooler than the breeding nest in the range of 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. On warmer days or in tropical environments this temperature can rise.
So to answer the question of at what temperature raw honey loses its benefits: As the temperature of honey rises above 98 degrees Fahrenheit, a certain family of damaged chemicals and certain toxic chemicals are formed. But the lower the temperature of honey, the better.
Degradation of honey enzymes: At what temperature does it destroy honey enzymes?
Enzymes are complex proteins. Heating an enzyme speeds up its reaction to a point. Above this maximum temperature, the enzyme breaks down and becomes inactive. When an enzyme is inactivated by heat, it never repairs itself.
A general rule of thumb is that temperatures above 98 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit begin to degrade sensitive enzymes derived from bees. At this temperature, many of the benefits of honey begin to disappear.
Does heating honey destroy its medicinal plant properties? There are millions of plant-based chemicals that can end up in honey. Some will easily die from the heat. Others die with more heat.
There are very few chemicals of plant origin that can be destroyed at low temperatures. A general rule of thumb is to store honey in a cool, dark place to preserve its medicinal properties for a longer period of time.
HMF or Hydroxy methyl furfaral
HMF is a destructive product that is formed when honey is heated. HMF is formed through the Maillard reaction. In this reaction, amino acids and honey react to form this dark chemical. The temperature of raw honey in hives is not very high in temperate regions of the world. In the tropics, the temperature of raw honey can be slightly higher, and as a result, HMF in tropical honey can be higher. This chemical is formed in honey at low pH and the higher the temperature, the faster it is formed. HMF has a dark color.
HMF is an excellent indicator of heat damage, and many commercial honey producers will test their raw honey with this factor. In other words, one way to distinguish natural honey from processed or processed honey is its HMF content, which must be taken into account when buying honey (Even more than the amount of sucrose or honey sugar!) Because:
HMF is a bad chemical and damages organs, irritates membranes and is considered a mutagen; That is, it can cause cancer.
As beekeepers, how can we protect our honey?
There are many things we can do as beekeepers to preserve our honey while it is still in the hive.
Well-ventilated beehives are cooler in summer and the honey does not overheat. In the warm seasons of the year, placing the hives in a place where they are in the shade at the height of the heat helps. If natural shade is not available, shade plates and nets can be used to reduce the hive temperature.
If there is a strong flow of honey and the temperature is high, extract the honey regularly and take it to a cooler storage place (in tropical climates). Commercial buyers pay less for tropical honey based on high levels of HMF due to natural heat in the environment.
In short, the temperature of raw honey should ideally be kept at room temperature (60-70) degrees Fahrenheit. Heating honey destroys some of its properties. Enzymes are especially sensitive to higher temperatures. Some properties of nectar and pollen and other medicinal chemicals of plant origin are also destroyed by heat.