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Fruits preserved in honey

We bought a jar of raspberries preserved in honey on a recent trip to New York. They're absolutely beautiful, and although we haven't opened the jar yet, it promises to be fabulously delicious. The only ingredients are honey and raspberries, and the raspberries are whole and look as if they haven't been heated at all. Is it safe to preserve fruits in honey? If so, would you just cover the fruit in honey? My intuition is telling me that it can't be that easy, but I haven't been able to find any information on this subject in my usual sources.

asked by petitbleu over 1 year ago
21 answers 6906 views
Bigpan
added over 1 year ago

Honey is the one food that never spoils. Ever.
Providing the fruit in the jar was clean and without any foreign bacteria, all should be fine (although super sweet).

Default-small
added over 1 year ago

This is incorrect, and potentially dangerous. You still MUST follow canning protocols to prevent dangers.

Bigpan
added over 1 year ago

As I said, if bacteria free. Here is a quote from the honey website. (perhaps they and I are incorrect ?)

Quote:

Because of its extremely low moisture content, honey will keep indefinitely. In fact, still edible honey has been found in the burial chambers of Pharaohs in the Pyramids of Egypt!

The secret of honey's preservative power is that it contains less moisture than yeasts and bacteria do. It literally sucks the moisture out of bacteria, killing it in the process. A few types of bacteria have a casing around them that protects their moisture from honey, but they can only survive in honey. To multiply and thrive they must break through the protective casing, and that requires a higher moisture level than honey provides.

It's important to protect honey's low moisture levels to keep it from spoiling. Since it's so dry, honey acts as a moisture magnet. It will absorb humidity from the air, and can become moist enough to ferment in humid conditions. For this reason it's important to keep your honey in tightly sealed containers.

End quote.

Do your own research and decide yourself.


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added over 1 year ago

Wow. I'm shocked and amazed at these types of posts, by persons with little knowledge or background on food safety making statements on issues that could severely affect someones health. This isn't personal bigpan, its peoples health you are dealing with!
It isnt honey that is being questioned, but by the way can in fact create issues, it is THE ADDITION OF FRUIT! AS IN RASPBERRIES THAT IS THE ISSUE. Do yourself a favor and read up on canning. I implore evryone here not to make irresponsible comments about food safety, as I have in other posts. The saying "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" is particularly apt here, as you are potentially putting Food52 members, their loved ones and others at risk if they follow advice on food safety from an uninformed source.
So yes, you are 100% incorrect in this instance, and your lifting of text from a google search actually details why. "It is important to keep Honey's low moisture levels to keep it from spoiling."!!! Raspberries are close to 90% water, and it is their introduction to the Honey that creates the moisture conducive to bacteria growth! I have had a lifetime of canning experience, am a graduate of the French Culinary, and hold a Food Handlers Certificate from NYC, and have read and studied these topics significantly. And none of that makes me an expert on the subject, you should always err on the side of safety, and when canning or preserving always use a tested recipe, not "Decide for yourself", or worse here, disseminate dangerous, erroneous and potentially life thretening advice

Default-small
added over 1 year ago

Wow. I'm shocked and amazed at these types of posts, by persons with little knowledge or background on food safety making statements on issues that could severely affect someones health. This isn't personal bigpan, its peoples health you are dealing with!
It isnt honey that is being questioned, but by the way can in fact create issues, it is THE ADDITION OF FRUIT! AS IN RASPBERRIES THAT IS THE ISSUE. Do yourself a favor and read up on canning. I implore evryone here not to make irresponsible comments about food safety, as I have in other posts. The saying "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" is particularly apt here, as you are potentially putting Food52 members, their loved ones and others at risk if they follow advice on food safety from an uninformed source.
So yes, you are 100% incorrect in this instance, and your lifting of text from a google search actually details why. "It is important to keep Honey's low moisture levels to keep it from spoiling."!!! Raspberries are close to 90% water, and it is their introduction to the Honey that creates the moisture conducive to bacteria growth! I have had a lifetime of canning experience, am a graduate of the French Culinary, and hold a Food Handlers Certificate from NYC, and have read and studied these topics significantly. And none of that makes me an expert on the subject, you should always err on the side of safety, and when canning or preserving always use a tested recipe, not "Decide for yourself", or worse here, disseminate dangerous, erroneous and potentially life thretening advice

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 1 year ago

I don't think it's the honey that's the problem, bigpan, it's the berries. I'm guess that if the berries were cold-packed and the honey and berries were water-processed, the berries might look pretty good, even like they hadn't been heated at all. At least that's what I'd try first.

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 1 year ago

And by "try first," I didn't mean to play fast and loose with safety measures. That's just where my research would start.

Waffle3
added over 1 year ago


It's a myth that honey is unspoilable and that it's some sort of super food. Nutritionally it's not much different from table sugar and, as it comes from the hive, it often carries botulism spores (the reason you don't feed it to infants) and sugar-fermenting yeasts. If you've ever kept a bottle for a long time you will likely have noticed that soon begins to darken in color and takes on an off flavor (as it can do when cooked).

That said, honey is relatively stable and doesn't require refrigeration for safety. But the minute you combine it with something that raises its moisture content or pH, trouble can ensue. Raspberries are acidic relative to honey but they're about 90% water which would raise the water activity level in short order. Remember the first rule of food preservation -- always use a tested recipe!

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added over 1 year ago

Thanks everyone! No need to get worked up--I'm not the type to hastily try new preserving procedures. Greenstuff, I think I may try water bath canning some raspberries in honey and see what happens. It sounds like a good lead anyway. More than anything, I just wanted to solve the mystery of these beautiful raspberries. I definitely plan to look further into the matter.

Default-small
added over 1 year ago

Petitblue-The reason I do get worked up over these types of posts is that the answers here are not just for your benefit, nor the benefit of all of the members of Food52. Do a Google search on the subject, and now you will be directed to this thread! Billions of people can read this, and look to this site as a potential source of expert information and opinion. That's why its critical that food safety science be left to the scientist, and not speculation or home grown research. Remember all, your posts on any issues where there are critical health and safety issues, should be conservative and limited to scientific fact.
As for your question about raspberries retaining their shape, I recently made a Raspberry Jam from the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook that called for a portion of the raspberries to be cooked down with the sugar, and when at the proper jelling stage, removed from the heat, with whole fresh raspberries gently folded in. These raspberries kept their shape beautifully, and of course, for food safety, were canned in a hot water bath.

Summer_2010_1048
added over 1 year ago

I'm curious too petitblue. Would love to hear what you find out.

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added over 1 year ago

I'll have to try the Blue Chair raspberry jam recipe--sounds incredible. I do appreciate your vigilance, ChezHenry. You're right--when it comes to canning, better safe than sorry.

Dsc_0048b
added over 1 year ago

Chez Henry, in light of the Rhubarb Cordial wildcard winner today, I'm curious whether the fact that it's in vodka changes everything? thx

Hilary_sp1
added over 1 year ago

ChezHenry, there are a lot of us who can & jam on Food52. I understand your caution, but many of us are knowledgeable on the topic. I'm interested to see if Mrs.Wheelbarrow chimes in here.
I personally think that the raspberries in honey were cold packed, honey poured on top, and then probably flash pasteurized. I work in a shared kitchen that has a small-scale glass bottle/jar pasteurizer. It seems likely to me that a product like that would receive similar treatment.

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 1 year ago

I've long noticed that Hotline questions related to food safety are Hotbutton as well as Hotline. That's why, when the editors recently asked what we'd like for regular features, I said we could use one on food safety.

On a separate note, don't we need an indent (or something) to show when people are replying to early posts? I just tried to review the whole thread and got stuck in the honeycomb of answers.

Bigpan
added over 1 year ago

I did not add the raspberries. In this case rather than argue, lets say a cook knows more than scientists in this case. Focus the anger at the company that is making and marketing the product - they are the ones potentially putting lives at stake, food safety wise.

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added over 1 year ago

I'm sure that the product purchased was canned properly, I was responding to the statement that "all would be fine" simply because it was in honey. My concern, not anger, is that someone may read it, take their 2 quarts of honey, and put something up without proper canning protocol. The original question was "how could these raspberries look so great if they were canned?". The answer is that of course they can look great, canning doesnt have to disintegrate the fruit, it can actually be a gentle process. The product was imported, sold in a store in nyc, so I would dig in and put them in my yogurt tomorrow for breakfast. They are not safe because they are in honey, theyre most likely safe because they were scientifically processed.

Default-small
added over 1 year ago

Alcohol is much different than honey. While honey may be an inhospitable environment for bacteria growth, alcohol is toxic to bacteria, its like poison to them. That being said, I dont know how to properly handle an infused alcohol. I can tell you that today, scientific proof exists that fruits (like peaches in brandy) should in fact be canned and processed in a hot water bath. The scientists have in fact found botulism in such items, where air pockets in the fruits create an environment for bacteria to grow, even if the fruit is siubmerged in alcohol. As for infusions where the fruit is removed, I dont know!

Waffle3
added over 1 year ago


While alcohol is indeed toxic to microorganisms, as with all toxins (and honey -- see post above), the key is concentration*. For example, wine yeast flourishes at lower levels (witness the alcohol content of a bottle of wine). It takes around 20% alcohol in solution before most microbes will be dead. You can see this effect at work in fortified wine (wine preserved with added alcohol).

* Other factors enter into the equation including time, temperature, aW and pH.