Saturday, October 10, 2015

What are the bubbles when I microwave my honey? (Also: glass jars, bees, the fair, donkeys, and horses)

It doesn't foam.  I want to be clear on that point.  If honey foams that means you let it spoil and letting honey, something so anti-spoiling that it can be used as a disinfectant, spoil is one of those things that you never want to sink to the level of doing.  (I have thus far avoided it.  Yay, me.  Unfortunately the same can not be said of certain other such things.)

It bubbles.  It's not a boil.  There's no rolling or anything, just big fucking bubbles.

Now those who know honey say not to microwave it because that kind of heat breaks down the awesome.  I'll take their word on the "breaks down the awesome" and can verify that it gets really fucking hot, but I am not a honey aficionado, and generally when I want to change a jar of solid into usable liquid honey I want to do it in a hurry.  Which is to say: I'm willing to accept the awesome being broken down to get my honey.

But I do wonder, what are those bubbles?  Are they simply trapped gasses being released, as happens to water when heated below a boil, or am I wrong about saying it's not a boil?  Am I converting some of my honey to gas?  That would be a waste of honey.  My microwave doesn't need to be sweetened.

Am I boiling off the water in my honey?  I know that overheating results in the honey browning (caramelizing) does that process release gas?  Usually I don't heat to browning, but today I browned the whole fracking jar of it because ... laziness and neglect mostly.

But the bubbles are pre-browning.

So, these bubbles, whence do they come?


For those willing to break down the awesome, I do in fact recommend microwaving as a way to restore honey.  If it doesn't need to be restored much, then you don't need to heat it enough to reach the "Oh my God, that's hot!" temperatures.  If it's a brick, heat it to those temperatures and then let it sit (or handle with care and mix with something cool; I have since childhood combined honey and ketchup when eating chicken nuggets.)

This does require forethought.  Generally the honey I have an opportunity to buy comes in plastic containers that will melt if microwaved.  (Not into a puddle or anything, but it doesn't make you feel safe about your food when it's in a fairly deformed container that may or may not have reached things, you know not what, into the thing you want to ingest.)  As such, upon purchase I need to transfer the honey to glass jars.

Glass jars are good.  They have many uses.

Down stairs at the work bench no one has used in my memory there are the lids to glass jars affixed to a ceiling rack so that you can have overhead storage.  Need such and such nails?  Unscrew the jar, take it down, get the nails you need, then put the jar back up.  The fact the jars are clear makes them ideal.

In my room and at my kitchen window are plants (offshoots of the two main spider plants, one recently and tragically departed) in glass jars.  Provided I remember to keep water in the jars they remain happy.

Glass jars: good things.


On a sadder honey related note, I went to the Fryeburg fair with my sister (I may share some pictures at some point.  Jensen was there some of the time too) and when we were in a honey section I learned that one of the hives at the farm has died.

Now there is only one surviving hive.  I haven't visited the hives in a while, but they were nice bees.  I've been around them all my life, only got stung once.  I still don't understand why that one time happened since they're very laid back.

I got one of the bees caught in my hair once.  My hair was a tangled mess (depression tends toward poor grooming practices) and getting it out was incredibly difficult.  We did get it out (I needed help), it did not sting.  Trapped in a strange place with giant things (peoples fingers) coming dangerously and aggravatingly close, I wouldn't have blamed it for stinging (though I would have been pissed off, just more at the universe than at it) but it stayed calm and we were able to extract it and let it fly back home.  (The people who helped me get it out of my hair were not near the hive.)

On the subject of the fair, there were no standard donkeys.  Dwarf donkeys yes, but not standard ones.  (Nor mammoth ones.  I've never seen a mammoth donkey in person.)  I want a donkey.  When I'm rich, a donkey or more is on my list of things to get.

Pedestrians like me need donkeys.  A pack animal would be so helpful.  Unfortunately pedestrians like me live in places where there's nowhere to pasture a donkey.

Also, the fair was the first time in years that I've touched a horse.  They're a part of me.  Donkeys I grew to love, horses I grew up with, every summer, since before my earliest memory.  How the hell have I let it be so long since I met a horse face to face?  It's a hole in me that's been there so long I forgot it existed.  They're on the "when I'm rich" list too.  (Along with someone whose job is too keep them all fed, healthy, and happy even when I'm negligent.)

But this is a post about honey.  So the fair talk ends now.  I feel bad about the hive.  What do you even do?  Can you hold a memorial service for an entire fucking colony?  If you do, what would it even look like?  Who is the god of bees?  Not bee keepers, the bee keeper isn't dead, bees.  Should I pour a libation to their god and ask that they be well cared for in the afterlife?


  1. I have no answers for you. :(

    (I am a fan of glass, too. I used to carry a glass bottle for my water instead of a plastic one, but after breaking a couple of them I stopped.)

  2. There are gods of bees and yet I can't think of any right now. Certainly Odin is associated with them via mead, and so are lots of folks in Norse and Germanic myth and folklore.

  3. There's stuff about bees here, in Lammas section:

  4. Random thoughts:

    I expect the bubbles are water vapour.

    If you have a bit of time, letting the honey jar sit in a bunch of warm water can soften it up.

    If you microwave one of those pastic bears full of honey you end up with freaky modern art bear sculptures.