Thursday, August 7, 2014

Honey Judging on August 11th

The next meeting of the Crossroads Beekeepers will be Monday, August 11th, at the U of I Extension Center, 1209 N. Wenthe, Effingham.

Please enter the west doors and go downstairs….listen for the buzzing of the beekeepers!

This will be an exciting meeting with our annual  Honey Competition!  Dan Wright, beekeeper from Kansas IL and Apiary Inspector for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, will again serve as our judge.

If you have honey that you would like to enter in the competition, please bring it in a clear (preferably glass) 1 pound jar that is NOT labeled.  Be sure an fill jars to the top with minimal air space and avoid any froth or foam at the top.  Judging will consider the following areas: appearance & suitability of containers, uniformity & accurate volume of honey, freedom from crystals, freedom from impurities including froth, uniformity of honey in container, color, brightness, flavor & aroma, and density  (water content).

Registration of entries will begin at approximately 6pm with club meeting and judging starting at 6:30pm.  As we learned in the past, judging takes time, so please try to register your honey closer to 6pm rather than waiting until 6:30pm.

During the judging we will have Question and Answer time, opportunities to network with other beekeepers, refreshments & take time to celebrate our clubs 4th Birthday!!!

Following the official judging of the honey, EVERYONE will have the opportunity to conduct their own judging and tasting of the honey!!!  Bring you Sweet Tooth!!!

REFRESHMENTS!!!  Please bring your favorite treats to share during the meeting, as this meeting is a fun time of celebrating the joy of beekeeping!

Below is information from the  Internet that you may find helpful in explaining honey judging.

1.    Density or Moisture Content   :  All honey contains moisture or water; honey is really a variety of sugars dissolved in water.  Excess moisture increases the growth of yeast cells that naturally occur in honey and can result in fermentation which will spoil the honey and make it unfit for human consumption.
Judges often use a cut-off pont of 18.6% and disqualify entries with additional moisture.  This level (18.6%) is based on considerable research and honeys with moisture levels over that amount are much more likely to ferment than honeys with lower water levels.  Some judges will also assign more points to honey of very low moisture contents but that practice varies considerably.  Containers of honey with moisture levels over 18.6% do appear very watery (fluid) to the naked eye and the beekeeper can have the honey tested with a refractometer in most states at the land-grant or state university and the state Department of Agriculture.
2.    Absence of Granulation or Crystallization :  All honey will eventually solidify (granulate or crystallize) even though the process may take from several months to many, many years.  Crystallization is the term usually used to describe liquid honey which has been solidified under controlled conditions, and granulation describes liquid honey that has solidified under natural or uncontrolled conditions.  Neither crystallization nor granulation are good attributes for liquid honey prepared for judging or for sale.  The presence of crystals or granules can usually be detected in the honey if they occur in more than a very small amount, and they give an uneven or gritty appearance to the honey.  This can result in two problems.  The first is a minor cosmetic problem and many consumers assume that crystallized or granulated honey is spoiled and they will either not purchase it or discard it if the granulation process becomes apparent after the honey is placed in the home.  A more serious problem is that the formation of granules/crystals in liquid honey will increase the moisture content of the remaining liquid portion of the product which can lead to fermentation.  Judges will subtract points for honey that is granulated or crystallized.
3.    Cleanliness   :  A look at Figure 1 shows that this category accounts for 30% of the total points assigned by the judges for liquid honey.  Cleanliness including lint, dirt, wax, and foam are among the most easily controlled factors by the beekeeper and carry a high penalty if Adirty@ honey is entered into competition.  The terms are self-explanatory with the possible exception of foam, which refers to air bubbles trapped in the honey.  There really is no excuse for dirty honey.
4.    Flavor   :  Flavor is a very subjective characteristic and the use of flavor as a factor in judging honey is usually limited to checking for fermentation and overheating.  Fermentation will give a sour taste to the honey and overheating will give the honey a caramelized (burnt sugar) taste.  The flavors associated with different honey sources should not be a factor in honey judging, unless the floral source produces a honey with a very disagreeable flavor.
5.    Color and Brightness   :  Most consumers prefer honey with a clear color and some brightness.  The judges will consider these characteristics but it should be noted that color does not mean that a light color honey will receive more points than a dark color honey.  Liquid honey is usually grouped into color categories by the superintendents or the judges of the honey show prior to judging. The factors of clear color and brightness in honey are partially a result of cleaning or filtering the honey and slightly heating it prior to competition.  The process may consist of pouring the heated honey (never heat honey over 140oF for any period of time) through a filter of some sort to remove impurities.  This process not only improves the cosmetic appearance of the honey but it also decreases the possibility that granulation and fermentation will occur.
6.    Container Appearance   :  The actual requirements for container type should be specified in the entry requirements for the honey judging.  Be sure to comply with those rules and don=t enter the wrong size container or a container made of an unacceptable material.  The judges will pay special attention to the cleanliness and lack of wear to the container and its lid. This attention to container and lid cleanliness includes the inside of the lid.
7.    Uniformity of Entries in Class   :  Most judging contests will require that multiple numbers of honey containers be entered for a category (usually three jars of extracted honey).  This requirement helps to ensure that the entrant really produced the honey and did not just buy a jar, and it also demonstrates that the entrant can package more than just one jar of high quality honey.
Entering honey into judging competitions can be an educational and valuable experience for the beekeeper.  Good judging based on an objective criteria can be used to evaluate packaged liquid honey and also suggest areas for improvement.  Always ask for completed evaluation forms from the judges for your entries and consider their comments.  Honey judging can help the beekeeper improve his/her product, improve the honey's future marketability, and even give some bragging rights.
Prepared by: J.T. Ambrose, Extension Apiculturist - September 1997 See also Beekeeping Note #16a Preparing Liquid Honey for Competition & Sale.