With so many different varieties of honey available to buy, it’s hard to know where to begin when picking up a new jar, especially after the many reports that many reputable retailers are selling cheaper sugar syrup and fake products.
Honey is a cupboard essential because it’s so versatile. Whether it’s used as a salad dressing, drizzled over porridge, or used as an ingredient in cake, honey is a multi-functional kitchen favorite. Not all honey brands work ethical and deliver good products. That is why we have read reviews and labels, to find 9 honey brands to avoid and 5 that we recommend, plus some tips for getting the best.
Red Flags When Buying Honey
Not all honey is created of the same quality. In fact, a lot of honey sold in American supermarkets is fake and has been heavily modified. The honey you will buy in retailers is not the same as raw honey, changed so it lacks the nutrients that make it so healthy.
The honey that you purchase in the store is not the same as unfiltered raw honey straight from beekeeper. In fact, it’s thought that 76% of honey sold in American supermarkets is mislabelled. Many honey brands modify their products, eliminating the nutrients that make authentic, pure honey so healthy. Here are some red flags to look out for when buying honey:
- When honey is pasteurized or filtered, the bee pollen is removed, losing many of its benefits. Companies will filter their honey to extend the shelf life with no concern about the nutrients lost.
- Some honey brands add High Fructose Corn Syrup to their products which is made from genetically modified corn. This ingredient has been linked to serious issues like liver damage, diabetes, and hypertension. Health professionals also link it to the rise of obesity in the country.
- The term of pure honey actually means nothing. The label True Source Certified holds far more meaning. This ensures that the honey has been traced using a third-party auditing system.
- Organic honey is almost impossible to find, yet many brands claim their product is. A hive would need to be in the middle of a minimum of 16 square miles of organic plants to be able to truly earn the accreditation of organic. The problem is that there are no USDA standards for organic honey, it’s just an arbitrary label.
- True honey will never have anything but honey listed in the ingredients. Anything with sweeteners in the ingredient list is a red flag.
- Real honey has a mild and sometimes floral scent whilst artificial honey has no smell. Real honey will also have minor impurities, with bits of pollen, honeycomb, or discolored particles in it.
- If your honey has a crystallized appearance, it is pure. If your honey has a liquid consistency, wait one or two days to see if it solidifies. Adulterated honey will never crystalize.
9 Worst Honey Brands to Avoid
Sidr honey is made from pollen collected from Yemeni Sidr trees. Some people are sceptical if it can actually come from Sidr trees, as bees collect pollen from such a broad area. Another frequent review is that the packing is poor and frequently leaks. Reviews say the taste is very fake and not like real, pure honey.
Customers have felt cheated by this Jansal Valley honey as it is merely infused with lavender. This means it is regular honey with lavender oil, rather than honey produced by bees who have collected nectar from lavender flowers. While it smells lovely, the taste is not very pleasant.
None of the complaints have been about the quality or taste of this product. This multipack of 10 jars is fantastic value for money and tastes yummy. The issue is many customers have complained that the jars have arrived broken or smashed. It appears the packaging is of low quality.
Whole Organic Honey claims to be pesticide-free, fair trade, non-GMO, and non-glyphosate, but the product itself begs to differ. As we’ve mentioned above, there is no way of knowing if honey is organic, plus it doesn’t have the cloudy appearance of raw honey. It has a thin molasses-like texture and a very sweet aftertaste. Other customers have complained that they are getting smaller jars than the promised 16oz.
The idea of eating chunks of actual chunks of honeycomb isn’t the most appealing. Whilst the honey is decent quality, some customers have found other green items within the mixture. Reviewers have called the texture waxy, whilst others say it has an unpleasant fishy aftertaste.
This Amazon brand is not thought to be authentic, raw honey. The taste is very sweet and is very artificial, like eating con syrup. Other complaints include the weak packaging and the very watery texture. Some reviews even say that this honey has caused them serious belly upset!
Most of the complaints about the honey is about the poor, chemical taste. Some reviews even question if their item had gone off, the taste so foul. Other complaints include the cheap packaging where the cap often breaks. Although described as organic, it never crystalizes and has a taste that leads many to believe it lacks in authenticity.
There is a concern that Cox’s Honey uses corn syrup despite claiming to be raw and unfiltered. The light color, taste and texture feel like artificial ingredients have been added. There was also no sign of crystallization when left in the fridge overnight. For those who like the consistency and water down taste, the packaging was an issue. Cox’s Honey comes in large buckets, which are not well-sealed and leak frequently!
Despite having all the right ingredients and accreditations, there are some very critical reviews of this product. It gets hard and crystalized to a point where it is unusable. It turns into cement when left in a cupboard, plugging up the bottle. The taste is good, but there is a lot of hassle trying to use it.
The Best Honey Brands We Recommend
Although there are many horror stories about fake honey with hidden ingredients, it’s not all bad. There are honey brands at all price points that are worth your time. Here are 5 honey brands that are honest, tasty and notorious!
This product is sweet and full-bodied, plus incredibly affordable. This product is ideal if you use honey in cooking yet are working to a budget. It’s not the most nuanced honey available, and it’s not the single-origin, the honey is processed in a facility that sources from a range of beekeepers. The squeezy bottle is very user-friendly, ideal for those on the go.
Did you know:
Because it is a completely natural product, it is Kosher certified and gluten free.
Manuka honey is considered the best in the industry. This is because it has a significantly higher concentration of potent of anti-viral, nutritional, and healing properties. Created in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the manuka bush, manuka honey is native to the country and is strong in both nutritional content and taste. It has an unusual taste, that is less sweet and has an Earthly herbal hint to it.
This brand of manuka honey is not just used to eat, it also used for its medicinal benefits and as a skincare product.
This comes in larger quantities than most other brands, in sizes ranging up to a gallon. The flower that grown uncultivated in Texas greatly influences the taste of this honey. It has a darker color than other golden honey, this is because it’s raw and natural. It’s free from herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals. It features nothing but all the nutritional and medicinal properties.
SB Organics sells portable honey by creating convenient, individual sticks. Made using raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized honey, it has a light, refreshing and clean taste. Sourced from the nectar of star thistle flowers, bit off the top and squeeze the honey out with ease. With packs of 50 and 100, these DB Organics Honey Stix offers fantastic value for money.
Steens Raw Manuka Honey is unique for containing bee bread. The raw component that makes this brand stand out is fermented pollen mixed with bee saliva and honey. This causes the grainy texture and the antibacterial properties. Steens has one of the best manuka honeys available on the market. It keeps the signature richness without that awful medicinal aftertaste.
Generic store-brought brands will usually use the most affordable and least humane ways to extract bee. When you shop at the farmers market, you can buy it from the person who raises and tended to the bees. You can also ask how they source their honey and make a decision based on their answers.
What is raw honey?
Raw honey is considered the most natural form of honey. It has been extracted directly from honeycomb by settling or straining. It will have had no other processes done to it. Regular honey will have been filtered to remove pollen, with some being heated for pasteurization.
Will honey expire?
Honey doesn’t expire. Archaeologists have found edible honey in ancient Egyptian tombs. The low water content, the low pH (which makes it acidic) and the hydrogen peroxide will help the substance not expire. Honey isn’t a welcoming environment for bacteria and microorganisms, stopping it from going off.
Did you know:
If you start to see crystals forming in your honey, take the lid off the jar, put it in warm water, stir it and watch the crystals dissolve.
A standard honey that you buy from your local store will have a two-year expiry date as standard. Although, properly packaged honey can be stored for 10 years or more.
What type of honey should I buy?
There are lots of different types of honey available on the market. The choice is down to what you like and how you want to use it. Clover honey is the most popular variety of honey in the US because it has a mild flavor, very light and pairs well with most other flavors. Buckwheat honey has a dark, dark flavor, while manuka honey is popular for its antibacterial properties.
The lighter the honey, the milder it tastes. Dark honeys have a molasses look and a strong flavor.
What’s the difference between unfiltered and filtered honey?
Filtered honey gets heated and then cooled, which eliminates fine particles, pollen grains and air bubbles. This filtering process makes the honey smoother and ensures it stays in liquid form for longer. Filtering will delay crystallization, ensuring a longer shelf life.
Unfiltered honey comes straight from the beehive. It won’t be smooth, may contain honeycomb and bee pollen. Unfiltered honey is thicker and can’t be poured out.