How to make creamed honey

For gift-givers who like to make their own presents, there's still time to whip up some creamed honey for friends with a sweet tooth. The creamed variety does away with the dribbling and dripping of liquid honey. It spreads butterlike on toast, biscuits, or crullers and some connoisseurs rate the flavor of creamed honey as more appealing and milder than the extracted.

Before World War II most honey was marketed as either comb or chunk honey. Now about 75 percent of the annual honey crop of 150 million pounds in the United States is sold as a liquid in jars, and the average American consumes only 0.9 pounds per year. In addition, a limited amount of spun or creamed honey is produced.

Anyone who likes honey knows how quickly it crystallizes. This is because many honeys are supersaturated solutions containing more dissolved material than can remain in solution. These solutions are unstable and will crystallize over time. This natural process is evident in honey left on the shelf until it granulates into the consistency of building sand.

In 1928 a man by the name of E. J. Dyce developed a system of producing finely granulated honey by grinding crystallized honey. The smaller the crystals or granules formed, the smoother the texture of the honey. Mr. Dyce took advantage of the aging process of honey to make spun honey -- the key factor being fine grinding. You can take advantage of the Dyce process to make your own creamed honey.

The first step in making spun honey is to obtain a container of commercially produced creamed honey from the store. This is the starter or seed honey. If you're converting a three-pound can of liquid honey, you'll need about five ounces of starter. (The starter should be about 10 percent of the total weight of liquid honey.) The starter is essential because it's fine grained. In regular crystallization, the liquid honey would crystallize into coarse crystals; the starter keeps the crystals fine.

Pour the honey you wish to convert into an ovenproof container. Place the container in a pan of hot water and heat. Use a candy thermometer to determine when the honey is about 140 degrees F.

Strain through cheesecloth to remove any material which might affect the crystallization process.

Place honey in refrigerator and cool to about 75 degrees F.

Next, add the starter to the liquid honey and thoroughly mix or spin using a heavy duty mixer.

Allow mixed honey to sit for several hours, then skim off any material that rises to the surface.

Pour into containers (plain or decorated) and store at room temperature for six to 10 days. The creamed honey should always be stored at temperatures below 80 degrees F. to prevent breakdown of honey texture. The creamed honey won't ferment, and the creaming process mellows strong-flavored honeys.

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