Who we are:
Our family has been keeping bees and selling honey for over 35 years. Until recently, we have kept our product to ourselves - that is to our Saskatchewan, Canada selves, but now we've decided to share our goodness with the rest of the Canada.
Our honey farm is a mile from Good Spirit Lake, located in East Central Saskatchewan, Canada, in an area known as the Parkland. Suitably named, this area hosts an abundance of forest land and numerous lakes. The blue skies and clean air, coupled with few people, makes our area ideal for producing honey. In fact, the per colony production of honey in Saskatchewan, is commonly higher than anywhere else in Canada, with our bees producing an average well in excess of 200 pounds of honey per colony.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is honey? Honey is primarily composed of nearly equal proportions of fructose, glucose, plus other sugars and water. Honey contains over 180 different substances including acids (18), minerals (12), amino acids (18), enzymes (5), bioflavonoids (18), aroma compounds (26), trace elements (17), vitamins (6), and lipids (8).
Is honey better for you than refined sugar? Yes, honey is better for you, the body uses it much differently than it does refined sugars. In fact, honey has many medicinal uses as well as dietary ones. Eating honey has a stabilizing effect on our body's blood sugar levels and does not stimulate as rapid insulin production as sucrose (table sugar), glucose or high fructose corn syrup. Because of this stabilizing effect on blood sugar as well as a lowering of HbA1c levels, honey is the sweetener of choice for diabetics. After ingestion, honey is converted directly into liver glycogen and does not result in the formation of triglycerides (fatty acids) as typically occurs after the consumption of common refined sugars found in the American diet. Honey does not trigger an immediate or excessive insulin release which results from the consumption of most artificial sweeteners, and thus does not promote fat production, storage and subsequent weight gain.
Honey has an antibacterial effect an inhibits the growth of many bacteria strains, including the bacteria responsible for ulcers. Honey has been used in topical dressings to treat infected surgical wounds, burns, and skin grafts. Honey significantly increases antioxidant levels in the blood while improving immune system activity. A tablespoon or more of honey consumed at bedtime promotes natural restorative sleep by preventing metabolic stress due to depleted liver glycogen stores. Without metabolic stress during rest, stress hormones are not released, maximum fat-burning during rest is possible, and natural restoration of body tissues and immune system functions occur naturally. Locally produced honey, when consumed on a regular basis, can prove very effective in reducing seasonal allergies.
Is your honey pasteurized? Our honey is not pasteurized. Saskatchewan honey granulates (crystalizes) within weeks of being extracted and in order to pack the honey from our honey storage drums into the containers you buy it in, we need to heat the honey just enough to re-liquefy it and to pass it through a cloth filter to remove any wax or particle from the honey. Most enzymes found in honey are heat stable, therefore lightly heating the honey for short periods of time does not affect the enzymes naturally found in honey. Pasteurizing honey is primarily done to destroy the crystal structure in the honey and therefore allows it to remain on the shelf in a liquid form that will not granulate. Pasteurizing honey by heating it past 160 degrees for a sustained amount of time, destroys the enzyme content and greatly decreases it's healthful benefits.
Is all honey the same? All honey is not the same. Unfortunately, most honey purchased from the store shelf is not even of Canadian content. The majority of honeys on the store shelf have been purchased in bulk form from producers around the world, often at the cheapest cost to the honey packer, blended and then processed heavily before being packed into containers for resale . The labelling of honey can be very misleading to the consumer as the description "Canada #1 White" is not a statement of origin but rather of color grade only. Saskatchewan honey is a superior honey due to its light color and flavor and is often used to blend with darker honeys in order to improve their overall quality and taste. When you purchase Howland's Honey, you are getting a locally produced honey from a single source farm of superior flavor, color and quality.
What is raw honey? Raw honey is a relatively new term in the honey industry and it has come about as the general public is becoming more aware of the over processing of honey. It has become how the public differentiates between honey that has been highly processed and that which has not. Although there are many varying standards for what "raw" honey is, it implies that the honey has not been processed in any way. Some processing needs to occur in order to remove the honey from the comb and honey needs to be kept warm in order to do this. If honey chills it will granulate and become impossible to separate from the comb. Although many qualify our regular creamed and liquid honey as "raw", those who want their honey even less processed can purchase "raw" honey at our farmer's markets. This honey is packed during our extracting season and has not been heated or filtered in any way. This honey has only been allowed time to settle and then has been packed into containers. During the summer months, we also offer honey comb for purchase at our farmer's markets. Comb honey is still contained within the comb, and no processing has taken place other than the comb removal from the hive.
Why is my honey so hard? Honey will become more or less firm depending on the temperature of the location where it is stored. We do not have an abundance of heated storage for the honey during the winter, and often the honey that you purchase during that time will be harder. Kept on your counter at home, this honey will begin to soften in 1-2 weeks. This question is often posed to us by people purchasing our honey from our Costco locations, and because it is stored in their large Costco warehouses before purchase, the honey does not get a chance to condition to a softer state until brought home.
How do I store my honey? If you are storing your honey for long periods of time, it will stay the freshest stored in a cool, dry place. Honey can be stored at any temperature, but will change consistency when stored at different temperatures. Honey stored in a cold place will granulate more quickly and become firm whereas honey stored in a warm place will become softer, and if liquid, will remain so longer. Honey is one of the few products in the world that will never go bad. Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! However, honey is susceptible to physical and chemical change during storage; it tends to darken and lose it's aroma and flavor or crystalize.
Why are there best before dates then? Honey has an unlimited shelf life but for practical and traceability purposes as well as store requirements, a shelf life of two or more years is often stated.