Honey, the natural products of honeybees, has been used by humans as far back as 7,000 BC. Forest honey is famous for being a healthy replacement for refined sugars. It is also famous for having many health benefits such as preventing heart disease, cancer, digestive problems, regulating blood sugars, and so on.
There are also claims that honey can be effective in improving our stamina and athletic performance.
Forest honey, however, is an enhanced version of the regular honey (or flower honey). It has more health benefits while also offering a distinctive flavour and aroma. Forest honey, especially raw organic ones, are relatively rare in the U.K. However, due to its unique flavour and benefits, there are many counterfeit products claiming to be organic forest honey.
Here, we will discuss how you can differentiate between real organic forest honey and a counterfeit one. To really answer this question, however, it’s important to know the difference between forest honey and regular (flower) honey.
What is Forest Honey?
Forest honey, also called honeydew honey, differs from the flower honey by how it is made.
The regular flower honey is made when bees gather nectar from flowers. However, when making forest honey, bees collect honeydew from trees—hence the name.
It is a very common misconception to think that honeydew is excreted by the tree. In fact, honeydew is secreted by aphids after they eat tree saps. So, organic forest honey would require two different elements: the tree and the presence of the aphids that produce honeydew. Both are commonly found in the Mediterranean.
Honeydew honey is much less vulnerable to crystalization than regular flower honey. It has higher mineral content and lower sugar levels. Also, forest honey is typically darker in colour than flower honey. The honey tend to have stronger and more distinctive flavours.
Knowing these characteristics is important in differentiating between real forest honey and counterfeit ones, so we won’t misunderstand it with regular flower honey.
How to Verify Real Forest Honey
There are so many fake and adulterated honey products available in the market today for both regular and forest honey. On the other hand, these unethical manufactures are now using various ingredients and sugar syrups to create their products, and so regular home tests might not be successful in differentiating real organic honey from fake ones. Our advice is to use a combination of these methods below to carefully figure out whether your forest honey is real and organic.
1. Taste Test
If you are familiar with the taste of organic forest honey, or if you are only concerned about the taste, then this can be the only test you need. However, most sellers won’t allow us to open the jar before purchasing and sample aren’t always available.
It’s also important to note that different products can have different flavours, so even if it tastes weird according to your standard, it can be a legitimate honeydew honey.
2. Water Test
Before anything else, remember that this water test isn’t always 100% accurate. There are authentic forest honey products with low enough density that it can fully dissolve in water. On the other hand, there are adulterated honey products that won’t dissolve in water.
However, most pure honey won’t dissolve, so a common test is to add a spoonful of the honey to a glass of warm water. You can stir very slowly or not stirring at all. Most pure honey products should sink as a solid lump or remain stuck on the spoon.
Also, this test won’t be effective in testing honey products sold in solid (honeycombed) form or creamed form.
3. Paper Test
This is to test whether the forest honey has been diluted with water.
Drop a spoonful of honey on a paper towel (or paper), if it leaves a wet mark around the lump, then the honey is diluted with water.
However, this test is ineffective if the adulterated honey is diluted with sugar syrups instead of water. To test for sugar syrups, you can use the next test below.
4. Heat Test
Pure forest honey (and regular honey) will caramelise quickly when heated, and in most cases, won’t become bubbly on heating. Adulterated honey diluted in water or sugar syrups will take longer to caramelise and may become bubbly. Sugar syrups have higher thermal conductivity and it will require more heat before it caramelises.
5. Thumb Test
Most authentic forest honey is viscous and thick, so when you place a small amount on your thumb, adulterated honey will be runny and will spread around the thumb like water. Also, after you wash your hand and clean the honey, you can taste your thumb. The taste of impure honey products with sugar additives may linger, while you shouldn’t be able to taste pure honey.
6. Flame test
This test is effective to test for added water in the forest honey. Dip the wick of a candle (you can also use a cotton pad or even rolled paper) into a bit of the honey. Shake off the excess, then try burning the dipped wick.
If it’s pure forest honey, it should burn quickly (although this test won’t be effective in testing other additives). If the wick is difficult to burn, and especially if it produces cracking sound, it is a strong sign of added water.
7. Check the Label and Check the Manufacturer Online
Before anything else, check the manufacturer’s name online. Nowadays, this is pretty easy to use, even if you are not at home since you can Google right from your smartphone. While you should take this with a grain of salt, this can be a great preliminary test before you conduct other tests.
Honeydew Honey by Sweet Honey Co., for example, has a legitimate website where you can also check for reviews from their customers.
If the company has a legitimate website, great online reviews, and looks legit overall, then you can move on to the next tests if necessary. If it’s pretty clear that it’s just a scam company, then you can simply move on.
Also, check the label’s ingredient list for additives (or added flavors). Since you are looking for pure forest honey, it shouldn’t list any additives or other ingredients. Of course, the company may not be telling the truth, and this is where you should move to the other tests below.