from Jacqui and me to this record of our experiences as new beekeepers in The Marches.

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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Harvest time

Its in the jar, all 48 of them. Thank goodness I was warned of the importance of preparation to avoid terminal stickiness during the bottling process. All went well though I could have done with 3 hands whilst juggling different sieves. The honey in the extractor was divided into two equal tubs. The first was put in jars without further processing apart from filtering. The second batch allowed to start to set/crystalise for a week before it was warmed gently in my home made warming chest for 24 hours at 39c. Then it was put through a muslin filter and bottled. Good honey gradually crystalises and can set very hard which is inconvenient when trying to spread it on rushed morning toast. If it is allowed to set and is then gently warmed back to clear state it will take longer to set a second time and will set more softly. The downside is that heating will start to reduce flavour so we are trying to balance taste with texture.
Honey must never be overheated as the sugars caramelise and flavour is ruined. My warming chest has two 40w bulbs in the bottom. Testing showed that it will reach a safe maximum of 40c with the lid and both bulbs on.
Meanwhile our kitchen resembles a witches covern as cauldrons of chutney, jelly, jam, and marmalade bubble gently and the oven is full of a mongrel assortment of jars and bottles being sterilised ready for filling.
It sounds corny but it is truly satisfying to see the harvest being preserved ready for the coming winter and spring seasons.

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