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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Creamed Honey, Roasted Peanuts

This morning the last four frames went back into the hive. The bees had already cleaned and tidied the four that went back yesterday.

Last year a batch of honey we harvested creamed naturally into a really finely textured grain and was delicious. Honey will always tend to crystallise over time unless kept warm. Usually the crystals are coarse and don't have that silky mouth texture. By seeding the fresh honey with the fine crystallised honey and mixing well you can initiate the process. Fresh honey will duplicate whatever crystals are first encountered. If they are really fine crystals it is called creamed honey.

The creaming process is pretty simple. Each of the two stainless steel buckets were about three quarters full and half a jar of starter material was added. The starter material is just creamed honey from the previous batch which had been set aside.

Each bucket was taken down to the workshop and mounted on the drill press. A Squirrel mixer is used to mix the the starter material gently with the freshly harvested honey. Some people aerate the honey but this eventually escapes leaving a prominent gap in the bottled jar and a thin scummed surface. Neither attractive or true creamed honey.

Our squirrel mixer was the smallest model available and made of plastic. The larger models are made of metal. It stirs the honey in a way that doesn't incorporate air and pulls the honey from the bottom and top of the bucket, pushing it out through the sides. Thirty minutes is plenty of time to ensure a thorough mixing. We use a pedestal drill press on a very slow setting but a good hand drill will work as well.

The squirrel mixer

A plastic lid is mounted between the mixer and the drill press to keep out any fallout

The drill press will be unattended during the 30 minutes of mixing. Just so there are no accidents some blocks of wood are clamped around the bucket.

There was one final filter through a finer stainless sieve. Just to remove any stings or other debris. The honey was then bottled in one kilogram honey jars we had accumulated from before we had our own hive. The jars are then stored in the cheese fridge. The ideal temperature for crystallising honey is 14 C. Our cheese fridge fluctuates between 9 and 14. It takes about two weeks for the crystals to form. Its easy to see when this is completed as the honey will have clouded. Once complete the honey will stay that way unless it is heated but once it cools it returns to the same state of crystallisation.
Final filtering

Nineteen and a half kilograms into the cheese fridge
While waiting for the stirring to complete all the capping's were melted in water and poured into moulds. This will need to be done a second time to remove all the contaminants and then set aside to use as cheese coating.
The melted capping's cooling
As a Christmas treat we roasted some raw blanched peanuts in the oven at 200 C until they were nicely brown and as soon as we took them out poured and stirred in a salt and water mix. Only a table spoon of water is required and a teaspoon or two of salt. The heat evaporates the water and the salt adheres to the nuts. No oils involved.
Freshly roasted and salted peanuts

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