Honey always tastes the very best immediately after harvest. Like all food products its taste changes over time. The closer to harvest time that you can get it, the better. Getting honey truly fresh is almost impossible when purchased from a large packing company. If you want the absolute best taste, buy locally, and when in season (Spring through Fall). If you are storing honey at room temperature then I recommend that you get it in a quantity that you will consume within 3 to 6 months. If you have room to store it in the freezer, it will keep almost indefinitely so you can buy a larger jar, or several jars to last through the fall and winter. Store a small jar at room temperature for daily use and keep the rest in the freezer. For me it is all about taste. As honey ages it does not go bad in the sense that it is not safe to eat, it just loses some of its good taste and may start to ferment adding off flavor. Pasteurizing honey will greatly improve its shelf life, which is the primary reason that packers pasteurize it. Unfortunately pasteurizing also degrades the flavor some which is why I do not pasteurize it.
Local: Most Hives are located on or near High Ground Organics Lewis Rd Farm in Corn Cob Canyon of North Monterey County or on High Ground Organics Harkins Slough Farm in South Santa Cruz County.
Fresh: Once the bees have cured a sufficient quantity of honey in excess of their own needs, the honey is harvested in small batches of one to two hundred pounds and then quickly bottled. My bottles generally have a sticker indicating the month and year of the harvest.
Raw: Raw has different meanings to different people. In this case raw means that the honey is as close to the way it was in the comb as possible. First the honey comb cappings are removed with a serrated knife or special fork. Many beekeepers use heated knifes that may inadvertently melt the wax cappings and cook some of the honey as it drips over the knife, this can add some unwanted flavor to the honey so I choose to use a cold serrated knife. The combs are then placed in the basket of the extractor, which spins around throwing the honey from the comb. The honey is cold strained (not heated) through a 500 micron stainless steel screen to remove any bees, large pieces of wax, or propolis as it flows from the extractor. Finally it is bottled, preferably directly into the glass jar in which it is sold. Glass makes the best honey container. It does not change the flavor as plastic might and it can be heated if necessary to re-liquefy the honey. Plastic containers should never be heated.
Some people sincerely believe that honey that has had any heat applied to it is not raw, in principle I agree. In practice and to assure that my honey is the highest quality possible, I have found it necessary to warm most of my honey to 115 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours to re-liquefy the crystallizing honey after it has been bottled. This was not an easy decision, but the risk of fermentation out weighted the minor changes that may occur in the honey when it is warmed. (See Honey Fermentation) The warming is done with a digitally controlled warming box similar to an oven precisely set to 115 degrees F. Warming to 115 degrees does not cook the honey. Honey from hives in hot areas of the country such as in the central valley or desert areas may reach that temperature naturally while within the hive, so I still consider the honey to be raw. Honey from hives in the central coast area do not see that high of a temperature naturally so it is no longer exactly the way it was in the comb once it has been warmed. There is no established standard for raw honey, some packers may call it raw as long as it was never heated to pasteurizing temperature of 160 degrees so the word raw used on a honey label can be very deceptive. I leave the final decision to you as to whether you feel warming the honey to 115 degrees makes it so that you do not consider it raw, that is why I always indicate on the jar if the honey has been warmed.
My Honey is currently available through:
The High Ground Organics Farmstand is located right off Riverside Dr./Hwy 129, a mile east of Highway 1 at 310 Harvest Dr. in Watsonville.
If you’d like to contact High Ground Organics at the farmstand, you can call farmstand manager Mike Lozinski at (831)212-1990 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org during stand hours. Mike also keeps up a farmstand Facebook page. Join them there to see what’s at the stand this week, or share news or recipes.
NOW OPEN Summer Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM
Closed Thanksgiving Day (November 26), December 24th, December 25th, and January 1st.
My honey is also available through the Way of Life in Capitola when supplies allow it.
located at 1220 A 41st Ave. in the Begonia Plaza, Capitola, CA 95010, Telephone 831-464-4113