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.

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30 Comments

Rogann D. February 4, 2019
Fermenting in RAW honey will last without processing. Fruits have high moisture content, may require refrigeration after fermenting process is complete. Roots, like garlic and ginger last months, years? And are excellent for digestion, good bacteria the body needs. Do your research.
 
James J. August 13, 2018
I realize that this is an old lost, but I was very interested in all of the advice that I found here...however I did have a question I would like to ask...I only ask because this did not come up during the discussion. Could you not use dehydrated raspberries. They would shrink during the dehydration but retain original shape. Then place the rasberries in the honey and vacuum pack the jar. This would draw any remaining moisture out of the jar and would fill the rasberries with honey which should restore original size and shape. Am I correct in this assumption?. Would that work?
 
Ki January 3, 2019
i replied once but it did not post. ..(?) .. .. From an herbalist/medicine making perspective, the topics on honey have nothing to do with canning. ... and to directly answer your question -- yes. .. fully or semi dehydrate the raspberries, put them into a jar, pour honey over them, seal the lid. (personally i don't use vacuum seal tecnique and i've never had a problem, but you could .. that's it. .. .... what's important is to avoid introducing any or "much" water content. (water will decrease shelf life, causing it to ferment, .. which might not be so bad either if it was for personal use). but from my experience fresh(partially dried) herbs/fruit will have a much shorter shelf life than using dried ingredients (which would basically last forever .. and deepen in flavor and medicinal quality with age) (yes honey does crystalize over time - with age/and or temp - i notice it through the winter. .. honey is a shapeshifter... and that is a good sign that the honey is still alive. (was not pasteurized) ... (honey is actually a sorely misunderstood substance in modern times. ..the ancients were way ahead of us)
 
Ki January 3, 2019
ps: if you introduce water content (ie partially dried raspberries) then yes it will decrease shelf life but it should still last a very long time. ... if they weren't dried at all i don't know how long they would last but possibly quite a number of months. Maybe years.
 
Ki January 3, 2019
pss: i don't believe it would restore the original size of the raspberries. (water content of raw wildflower honey is typically 17-20% and so i don't believe the raspberries would draw any water from the honey into themselves, ? .. possibly. .. the honey is more likely over time to draw the properties of the raspberries into itself) (honey is a "solvent" .. just like water, alcohol, vinegar, ..etc are solvents) (used in medicine making to draw the properties of the herbs/etc into itself). .. ... normally with herbal infused honey - aka 'medicinal honey' .. dried herbs are used ... infused for a period of 4-6 weeks .. and then the dried herb matter -- called the "mark" is pressed out. ... you can gently heat the honey ..stay below 90F .. ideally. .. to encourage a stronger union or marriage /infusion. ... yes you can use your dehydrator for that. ... my tip ... try Roses (from organic gardens not treated with chemicals) (not from florist shops as those have been treated). .... the list is endless of what you can do. ....... ... you can also look up "Electuarys" if you are interested.
 
BoulderGalinTokyo January 23, 2018
Thank you everyone. Nice "FOOD52 for Thought".
 
hunter August 17, 2017
Also the claims of botulism in honey were founded after the Chinese started selling corn syrup infused honey to consumers in the US, botulism spores are not present in raw honey, but in store bought honey (especially chinese) the infused corn syrup will contain botulism.

The first case of botulism suspected to be caused by honey happened in the late 1970's, the Chinese started exporting honey infused with HFCS in the early 1970's. If botulism was an issue with HONEY instead of HFCS it would have appeared long before 1978. Indians on the subcontinent have been giving raw honey to infants for HUNDREDS of years, with no real documented harmful effects. The germans and gaelics would do the same throughout history. So the more you know..
 
hunter August 17, 2017
Honey is actually full of bacteriostatic and bacteriocidal compounds produced by flowers to preserve the pollen for the journey to it's partner plant. Bee Honey is in fact HIGHLY preservative for more reasons than just sugar and water content. Ancients would preserve their food in honey vats without canning procedures and they lived to tell the tale to generations after them. The ancients also would entomb the dead in honey in order to preserve the flesh for long journeys home or to far away lands.

Dr. S. Mladenov performed experiments with honey's preservative effects in a labs setting. The control was a sugar solution of glucose and sucrose in a similar water content solution. Items preserved were chicken eggs, seeds, liver and kidney tissue. The eggs were preserved for 2 years with no microbial growth, the liver and kidneys were preserved for 4 years with no microbial growth. All of the controls using sugar solution failed within days. The seeds after 1 year had a higher germination rate and more vigor than the control as well. Honey is a PROVEN preservation technique, within reason. Adding pounds of ground hamburger to a jar of honey probably won't bode well, however taking into consideration its limitations- fruit, seeds, meats and eggs CAN be preserved in honey safely.

Bees are a wonder of nature, their entire existence does nothing to detract or destroy from nature in any way. All of their food is accumulated while performing a service to plants, and doesn't detract from the plant nor the process of pollination (quite the opposite.) Honey, propolis, pollen, and beeswax all have documented health benefits imparted by the plants and the bees themselves. Even bee venom has proven to CURE and treat diseases like MS, Arthritis, Lupus, and other immunological disorders or inflammations in a large amount of cases when taken therapeutically in bee Venom therapy techniques.

-Honey is not just sugar
-Honey is a preservation technique
-Bees are amazing creatures


Sources: http://honeypedia.info/the-preservative-effect-of-honey
 
ChefOno May 25, 2013

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.

 
ChezHenry May 21, 2013
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!
 
ChezHenry May 20, 2013
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.
 
Antonio S. January 22, 2018
I found this thread on a google search of the topic. I have little to no experience in canning or preserving and i find the concern chaz has as extremely helpful. It may have stopped mw from potentially trying something dangerous. Food safety is extremely important and spreading that concern is needed. Thanks everybody!
 
bigpan May 20, 2013
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.
 
Greenstuff May 20, 2013
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.
 
Hilarybee May 20, 2013
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.
 
healthierkitchen May 20, 2013
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
 
petitbleu May 20, 2013
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.
 
Midge May 20, 2013
I'm curious too petitblue. Would love to hear what you find out.
 
ChezHenry May 20, 2013
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.
 
petitbleu May 20, 2013
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.
 
ChefOno May 20, 2013

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!

 
Greenstuff May 19, 2013
And by "try first," I didn't mean to play fast and loose with safety measures. That's just where my research would start.
 
Greenstuff May 19, 2013
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.
 
bigpan May 19, 2013
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.


 
ChezHenry May 20, 2013
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
 
ChezHenry May 20, 2013
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
 

Voted the Best Reply!

ChezHenry May 19, 2013
Honey by itself may preserve for a very long time, but the minute you add something to it, it can ferment and yes spoil. The product you have was most definitely canned in a hot water bath. I implore everyone who posts here to be careful regarding food safety and canning, and refer to the Ball guides to canning for proper safety measures. You should not put up items in Honey without following proper methods.
 
petitbleu May 19, 2013
Thanks, ChezHenry. This was my first reaction, having done a lot of canning (with fruit and vegetables). I've never made anything apart from a freezer jam or quick conserve that didn't need to be at least water bath canned. However, I asked the question because this product seems not to have been canned in any form. As we all know, ripe raspberries are extremely fragile. Just picking them off the bush can cause them to fall apart. But in this preserve, the raspberries are pristine--absolutely and completely intact and beautiful. I just can't imagine that it was water bath canned--there's no way the fruit would have survived.
I agree with you, though, that logically honey can and will ferment if any sort of yeast is introduced (and wild yeasts are all over fresh fruits). This is essentially how mead is made but not something you'd want in a preserve. I just really want to solve the mystery of how these folks (it's an Italian company) managed to keep the raspberries so pristine and the preserve safe to eat. Perhaps they did put it in a water bath. It just seems unlikely considering the state of the fruit.
 
bigpan May 19, 2013
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).
 
ChezHenry May 19, 2013
This is incorrect, and potentially dangerous. You still MUST follow canning protocols to prevent dangers.
 
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