Two jars and four bowls full of bee-related products, such as honey, pollen, and jelly, sit on a wooden table.

What’s the Difference Between Filtered and Unfiltered Honey?

What’s the difference between filtered and unfiltered honey? Unsurprisingly, honey in its original form is vastly different from honey after it has certain elements removed. It’s not a matter of one being better than another overall, but rather of each having specific traits and tastes that make them desirable to honey aficionados. It’s worth learning a bit more about what filtered and unfiltered honey are good for and how they can enhance your culinary experiences if you appreciate the lovely sweetness and qualities of honey.

Honey History

We all know where honey comes from. Bees fly about, collecting nectar from assorted flowers and bringing it to the hive where, through an enzymatic process and water evaporation it becomes the thick, sweet, and golden substance treasured by both bees and human beings. Bees store their honey in their honeycombs, keeping it fresh and ready for when they need extra nutrition.

Of course, humans have been keeping bees and gathering their honey for thousands of years now, making slight adjustments to the bees’ surroundings. Adding different flowers to bees’ gathering grounds, and other tactics and processes, allow for the creation of different types of honey in a variety of colors, tones, tastes, and more. Filtering is one such process. What does it involve and how does it help improve the honey?

The Finer Points of Filtering

Filtered honey is just what it sounds like. Apiarists pass the honey they harvest through a series of fine filters to remove impurities. Impurities include substances such as pollen, beeswax, and other particles that might enter the honey during its production. Eventually, they clear the honey of all impurities, leaving it smooth and clear. Filtering can be extensive or minimal, depending on how the beekeeper wishes to present their honey and the improvements they wish to make to it. Here are several benefits of filtering honey:

  • Filtered honey is clear and smooth and has greater visual appeal for many. Restaurants and food stores may prefer to use or sell honey that looks smooth and “clean.”
  • Filtered honey often lasts longer on the shelf at the grocery store or in a purchaser’s home. Filtering honey also curbs spoilage and fermentation, allowing it to taste great for a very long time.
  • Some folks prefer their honey to taste and feel the same on their tongues to the last drop. Filtered home stays consistently smooth and retains a uniform taste over time.

Of course, nothing is perfect, not even filtered honey. Here are a few drawbacks when it comes to this type of honey:

  • Filtering honey can remove “impurities,” but some of those impurities can be beneficial and provide nutrition. Pollen contains vitamins, for example. Honey can also contain minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants that are beneficial to our health.
  • This might be more a matter of (literal) taste, but many honey fans detect a lack of flavor in filtered honey.
Unfiltered honey slowly dripping from a steel container, through a filter, and into a large glass jar.

The Unfiltered Truth

Unfiltered honey isn’t the same as unfiltered water. Straining the impurities from honey may sound like a necessity for healthfulness, but that’s not necessarily true. Unfiltered honey is honey at its purest, so to speak. It still contains whatever fell into it during the honey-making process—pollen, propolis (a resin made by bees), and beeswax, none of which are harmful to human beings. Truthfully, all honey undergoes filtration to some degree, at least to remove larger particles and debris, but pure raw honey retains its original cloudiness and texture. Some food and health enthusiasts swear by unfiltered honey and its benefits, such as:

  • It’s nutrient-rich. Unfiltered honey can contain bee pollen and propolis, giving the consumer vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants in greater amounts.
  • Unfiltered honey retains a pure taste of greater complexity than filtered honey.
  • Pollen and other plant-based elements appeal to folks seeking natural food and health benefits.

Of course, there are drawbacks as well:

  • Unfiltered honey doesn’t last very long. Be sure to store it properly, otherwise, spoilage and fermentation will ruin the taste and other benefits.
  • Unlike filtered honey, taste and flavor are more of a gamble. What appeals to you about a particular brand at one time might not repeat itself the next time you purchase a bottle or jar. Color, texture, and other aspects may be similarly inconsistent. So, caveat emptor.

Choosing Filtered or Unfiltered Honey

We’ve answered the big question: What’s the difference between filtered and unfiltered honey? Now that you know more about the subject, you should have an easier time picking the right honey for your dining and other purposes. Here are a few tips and tricks to remember as you shop for this delicious, sweet treat. It all comes down to personal taste, of course, but consider these other aspects:

  • What will you use it for? Filtered or unfiltered should do if you’re a fan of honey on toast, pancakes, or anything else. However, filtered honey offers greater clarity, smoothness, and drizzle ability for baking, cooking, and fancier recipes.
  • We cannot overstate that unfiltered honey delivers more nutrients and health advantages. It’s great for sweetening and bringing nutrients to tea, smoothies, and other drinks.
  • Unfiltered honey brings a surprising assortment of flavors when it comes to giving your taste buds a thrill. Expect complexity and savory tastes with unfiltered honey. Of course, filtered honey also offers plenty of flavors, and is more consistent about it.
A dozen or more jars of honey in different hues with honeycomb printed lids, stacked and ready for purchase at a market.

Storing It

Whichever kind of honey you get, be smart about storing it. It will last longer and provide more enjoyment over time when you do. Keep your jar cool and away from heat and direct sunlight. Keep it tightly sealed to prevent the honey from absorbing moisture from the air. Air and sunlight can cause it to spoil or ferment. Also, despite the advice on keeping it cool, don’t keep your honey in the fridge. It will crystallize and make it harder to pour. However, you can fight crystallization by immersing the jar in a pan of warm (not hot) water if you decide to store your honey at cooler temperatures. The honey will slowly return to its syrupy consistency.

Those are the basics of filtered versus unfiltered honey. We hope this post helps you find the perfect honey for your tastes and needs!

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