I bought a quart-sized jar of raw honey about a year ago. I recently opened...

Asked October 23, 2013, 6:04 PM EDT

I bought a quart-sized jar of raw honey about a year ago. I recently opened it and discovered that it had started to ferment because it began bubbling up out of the jar. I put it in the refrigerator, and that stopped the process. My question is whether or not this honey is safe to eat. Thank you. Lee

Rice County Minnesota honey

1 Response

Honey has been eaten by man for thousands of years. It is one of the most sustainable, most delicious, and most healthy sweeteners available to us. It can be used as a food preservative and keeps for a very long time. In the presence of heat and moisture, however, it can ferment. Raw honey has not been heated or treated in any way. This means that the naturally occurring enzymes and beneficial properties of the honey are left completely intact. The pollen in raw honey has been known to be beneficial to those suffering from allergies and the enzymes can help digest the foods you consume with the honey. The fermentation of honey increases those benefits. In order for honey to ferment it needs a moisture content of at least 19%. Most honey contains less moisture than this and as such will need water in order to ferment.

Mead

Because of the high sugar content of honey, it is easily fermented into alcoholic beverages honey wine, known as mead. Mead in its most simple form is made from honey and water. Like grape wine, mead can be made dry or sweet, depending on the amount of honey used. When making five gallons of mead at a time, dry mead would contain 9 to 12 pounds of honey whereas sweet mead would contain more like 16 to 22 pounds of honey, with the remainder of the volume consisting of water.

Lacto-fermented Honey

You can also ferment honey into a lactic acid bacteria-containing beverage or condiment. This can be done in a number of ways.

Won’t Raw Honey Kill The Beneficial Organisms?

Many people argue that you cannot use raw honey in the fermentation process because raw honey is known to have anti-bacterial agents. Their concern is that it would kill the mother culture such as kombucha. Honey is anti-microbial in nature, but it kills microbes primarily by suffocation, so mixed with water, its antimicrobial properties are somewhat diminished and it becomes a happy home and food source for airborne yeasts and organisms to feast on and produce a traditional fermented product. So, find yourself a source for high-quality local raw honey and enjoy your fermentation experiments.