When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. For baked goods, make sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to prevent over-browning; reduce any liquid called for by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used. Because of its high fructose content, honey has higher sweetening power than sugar. This means you can use less honey than sugar to achieve the desired sweetness.

Honey is made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers and plants, not pollen. Pollen is actually an accidental guest in honey, brought back by bees as a source of food for baby bees (the “brood”), or incidentally introduced into the honey through other means, such as during the extraction process. Pollen in honey is sometimes analyzed to help determine the primary floral source. The amount of pollen in honey is minuscule and not enough to impact the nutrient value of honey. Honey is still honey, even without pollen.

Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! However, honey is susceptible to physical and chemical changes during storage; it tends to darken and lose its aroma and flavor or crystallize. These are temperature-dependent processes, making the shelf life of honey difficult to define. For practical purposes, a shelf life of two years is often stated. Properly processed, packaged and stored honey retains its quality for a long time. If in doubt, throw it out, and purchase a new jar of honey!

While there is no official U.S. federal definition of “raw” honey, it generally means honey that has not been heated or filtered. We often see or hear claims that raw honey is more nutritious or better for you, primarily because raw honey may contain small amounts of pollen grains that are often removed during processing or filtering.


Honey is produced by honeybees from the nectar of plants, not pollen. Pollen occurs only incidentally in honey. The amount of pollen in honey is miniscule and not enough to impact the nutrient value of honey. A 2004 study by the Australian government found the percentage of dry weight canola pollen in 32 Australian canola honey samples ranged from 0.15% to 0.433%.


A 2012 study by the National Honey Board analyzed vitamins, minerals and antioxidant levels in raw and processed honey. The study showed that processing significantly reduced the pollen content of the honey, but did not affect the nutrient content or antioxidant activity, leading the researchers to conclude that the micronutrient profile of honey is not associated with its pollen content and is not affected by commercial processing. The 2012 study and abstract with statistical analysis was presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Conference in Boston April 20–24, 2013.

While there is no official U.S. federal definition of raw honey, the National Honey Board defines raw honey as “honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without adding heat.” This definition does not have any legal authority, but is provided to help in the understanding of honey and honey terms.

Honey is the sweet fluid produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers. Worker honeybees transform the floral nectar that they gather into honey by adding enzymes to the nectar and reducing the moisture.

Eight fluid ounces (or 1 cup) of honey weighs 12 ounces. Be careful in buying and measuring quantities of honey. Honey is typically sold by weight rather than volume. It is heavier than water; the standard for “fluid ounces,” which is why 1 cup of water is considered 8 fluid ounces, but 1 cup of honey will actually weigh 12 ounces. A gallon of honey weighs approximately 12 pounds.

Crystallization is the natural process by which the glucose in honey precipitates out of the liquid honey. Different varieties of honey will crystallize at different rates, and a few not at all. If your honey crystallizes, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve; or place the honey container, with the cap open, into near boiling water that has been removed from the heat; or place the honey in a microwave-safe container with the lid off and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey. Also keep in mind that you can eat the honey in a crystallized form. Just scoop out of the jar and spread it on your toast or drop it in your tea!

Honey comes in many colors and flavors. These are called honey varietals and they are determined by the types of flowers the bees visited for nectar. Some are light and sweet; others are dark and bold. Pick the honey you like and enjoy!