Honey Foam : the White Stuff on Top

Honey foam may be one of the most surprising things about the appearance of raw honey.   It is often greeted with the words: “What’s that white stuff on top?” Regardless of the raw honey’s form, runny or crystallized, it may be topped with a thin layer of froth, which will solidify in crystallized honey. If you find this honey foam in your jar, consider yourself lucky.

Honey Foam on Raw Buckwheat Honey

Swirls of Foam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honey foam is delicious. It is light, flavorful, and packed with air bubbles that have trapped some of the wondrous stuff that is in raw honey: pollen, propolis, wax, and, of course, raw honey.

 

Gravity Fed Honey

I don’t get a lot of honey foam in my raw honey because I’m pretty low-tech: gravity flow from extractor to bucket to jars.

Dark, Rich Brookfield Farm honey pouring from the extractor

A Darker Honey This Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumped Honey

Some friends of mine who have a “few” more hives (I have around 80 to 100, they have around 1,700 to 2,000) use pumps to move the honey from their extractors through baffle tanks and then into the large holding tanks.

Maxant Baffle Tank

Maxant’s Baffle Tank (aka a clarifying tank)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The baffles remove the big chunks of wax that fly free during the centrifuge action of the extractor. They are like little dams that let the runny honey flow through but stop big chunks. The pollen, propolis, and tiny pieces of wax flow on though with the honey.

The holding tank is just what it sounds like. A large tank that holds the honey before it’s bottled.

What Air Adds To Honey

Pumps mean air is being introduced to the system. The air bubbles up through the honey becoming involved with the pollen, propolis and wax that is making its way upward as well. The result is the most delicious, fluffy, frothy foam, full of goodness.

Barrels of Fun, and Honey, and Honey Foam

My friends’ honey often comes to me in barrels. When opened, honey foam is floating on the top.

Honey Foam in Barrel of Raw Honey

Honey Foam in Barrel of Raw Honey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I pump the raw honey and honey foam from the barrels, more air bubbles form and again creates even more honey foam at the top of the honey jars.

Raw Buckwheat Honey with honey foam

Honey Foam at Top of Jar

Foam Forever

Even though the final bottling of raw honeys is done using the incredibly fascinating, but deceptively simple force of gravity, the honey foam stays in the honey and will rise to the top over time.

The pumped air’s effect on the honey foam is further enhanced by the proteins in the honey, according to Wikipedia. “The presence of proteins causes honey to have a lower surface tension than it would have otherwise, which produces a marked tendency to foam…and encourages formation of fine air bubbles,”

I have noticed that lighter honeys produce less foam than the black honeys; in our case the Buckwheat and Chamisa raw honeys from Stan’s hives (aka K Brothers Pollination and Honey). I would guess the higher quantity of foam in the black honeys is due to the higher ratio of proteins in the honey – but that’s just a guess.

Since we carry a wide array of raw honeys from our own hives and those of our friends, when you open a jar of honey from Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, you just might find a delicious treat on top of the raw honey: Honey Foam

What’s Happening Now

It’s been snowing, then freezing, and the icy road home has been a pain.  I went and bought new chains for my truck to make it up the hill.  Bee wise, just trying to do some paper work that I’ve not caught up on yet.  Exciting, eh?  But I did take some time out to head up river and go walking – have I mentioned that, in my humble opinion, I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth?

North Fork Nooksack River, Whatcom County WA - winter

North Fork Nooksack River – 1/2 hour from home

That’s the news from Brookfield Farm Bees and Honey, Maple Falls, Washington.  You can find me each week at Seattle’s Ballard Farmer’s Market.  No Fremont Market for a bit, Ian, my partner, slipped on the ice and broke his arm.  The “joys” of winter…… Stay safe where ever you are….

 

 

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About brookfieldfarmhoney

Brookfield Farm, a small off-grid apiary in Maple Falls, WA focuses on the beauty and bounties of Washington’s wilderness. I sell honey from our bees, whose naturally-treated, antibiotic-free hives are home to bees who fly Washington’s mountains and farmlands. Herbal salves and lip balms from Brookfield beeswax. Delicately infused honeys and vinegars. Varietal honeys from independent Washington beekeepers. Karen Edmundson Bean: beekeeper, photographer. Her love of the wilderness inspires her to discover new ways of bringing the wonders of nature to others. Brookfield Farm : the tastes, textures, sounds, and images of nature.
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14 Responses to Honey Foam : the White Stuff on Top

  1. Pam says:

    Funtastic. Love that you make your labours so enjoyable for us .and educational. Thanks much. I keep thinking speing is a
    comin’

    • I’m glad you like them. I too wish spring would arrive (ok, I know it’s winter). I spent part of my morning hacking ice off of my road with a pick ax! I’m soooo tired of chaining up to get to the farm.

  2. Emily Scott says:

    I have some dark honey from this year and every time I skim the foam off the top more rises to the surface. Think my friends will have to get their honey with foam included!

  3. Chris says:

    We’re charging extra for the foamy jars! lol 🙂

  4. Love the information in your post, I’m going look for you at the Seattle’s Ballard Farmer’s Market.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I’m at the “top” end of the street – on the side that has enough room for cars to pass – the east-ish side. See you Sunday

      • marlyne says:

        I bought some honey from the store today with white crystals in it with the experation date of 2018. So I’m guessing I dont have to take it back for a new one?! I need it tomorrow for my apple cider vinager drink.

        • Hi Marlyne, well it’s hard to comment on honey that’s not mine or my friends, my honey doesn’t have an expiration date because Honey has no expiration date – real honey is good forever. That being said, my honeys can have white crystals at the bottom: that’s the runny honey starting to crystallize, this is good, crystallized tastes better (to me)…we sell both crystallized and runny at our market booths. The solid crystals drift to the bottom of the runny honey, they’re heavier. I wouldn’t take the honey back, I’d be pleased that it was maturing into a wonderous crystallized state (if you can’t stand it, put it in a sunny window as it warms, the crystals will dissolve – but don’t let the honey go over 120F or you just have nice tasting sugar….) Hope that helps.

  5. Barbara Johnston says:

    I am from Belize in Central America, and for the past sixteen years I have had perfect solid heavy honey, but this 2016 we had a long drought and production was very low. Then, the last two extraction in this season, i got fermenting honey with lots of foam. The honey tasted the same, but I am worried that the fermentation might spoil some of the honey that came out . at the moment i am trying the double boiler method to extract some of the moisture. What else do you recommend?

    • Hi Barbara – I really don’t know how to pull moisture out of the honey. I’m sure you’re being careful with the double boiler so your honey doesn’t go over 120F – I assume you want it to stay raw, that’s my world…if you don’t you can go higher. Some people I know put heaters and/or dehumidifiers on the honey in the comb – not enough to melt the wax…I can’t see how that would work. The bees should have sealed the honey only after it dropped below 18 percent water. Higher water content would have made the honey ferment – but if your area was humid, the honey could attract water (it does that) and thus get over 18 percent water. Many decades ago I was in Belize and it was humid (and beautiful, and wonderful). That’s the only thing I can think of causing the fermentation – post extraction humidity. And, of course, always choosing the sealed frames – but you know that.

      Foam tends to be a factor of the nectar source – here Buckwheat and Chamisa foam a lot (black honeys), but I’ll see foam on lighter honeys as well. If your system is pumping anything you’ll get more foam (you knew that, I bet). I wouldn’t worry about foam – people like it here, and in NYC they pay big money for it… The fermentation is your real problem.

      Wish I could be of more help…

  6. Jose and Norma Irlas says:

    Thanks for the explanation on the foam. we thought it was weird since we a beginners beekeepers. I tasted it and it was delicious. hope my friends and family like it too.

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