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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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….