Honey is a natural product produced by honeybees and consists of a very concentrated solution of a complex mixture of sugars, in which fructose and glucose are the main ingredients. These sugary secretions of plants or other insects are gathered by the bees through regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. They are stored in wax structures called honeycombs. In short, it is the natural sweet substance produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers.
Honey is commonly consumed in its unprocessed state i.e. in the liquid, crystallized state or directly from the comb. In these forms it is taken as medicine, eaten as food or incorporated as an ingredient in various food recipes. Honey adds great flavor to various food recipes too. There was a considerable demand for the honey and its products. However, the demand for honey and its products has only increased over the period of time. If the processed honey and other products are packed properly, they can be exported too.
Honey is the only food that lasts up to a thousand of years. However, the water content present in honey is a deciding factor of its shelf life. Raw honey is said to have 20% of water content. Honey is hygroscopic in nature and therefore absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. If the moisture content present in honey increases to more than 20%, its chances of fermentation or spoilage are higher. This is when the importance of vacuum evaporation comes into the picture. Vacuum Evaporation plays a major role in deciding the quality and the keeping ability.
Liquification of Honey
This is the process of melting crystallized honey. The melting room is heated at 45 degree Celsius, and provided with sloping racks on which the honey drums are placed. In this situation the melting proceeds in two stages. In the first stage, the semi-liquid honey warmed in the pre-melting room is left to flow into a double-jacketed tank placed beneath it. Secondly, the further heating of honey by circulating hot water between the two walls of the tank, while honey is mixed by the agitator with which the tank is equipped.
Preheating & Initial Straining
The raw honey is to be heated first at 40-45°C for 30 min. This requires constant stirring to make homogeneous honey, stirring at rate of 50 rpm. It is then filtered through 80-100 mesh (40-50 micron). This is done so as to separate solid wax particles, honey processing plant, pollen grains and other foreign materials. The pressure should not exceed 1.5 kg/cm2 during filtration, in order to avoid the chances of air being mixed with honey.
This is done to carry out the rejection of enzymes and elimination of yeast cells from the honey. It eliminates microorganisms whilst retaining nutritional factors in the honey.
Yeast Cells Inactivation Process
The temperature of honey in the processing coil is maintained at 65 degree Celsius maximum. All the yeast cells present in the honey will be killed at this temperature. It will then pass in the cooling tank.
Honey is then heated to the required temperature for a specific period and then passed into a falling film evaporator. This vacuum is simultaneously applied to boil the water in honey at a lower temperature, so that moisture separated can be collected separately. This procedure also helps in destroying yeasts.
Cooling & Packing
The temperature of honey should be maintained between 60 -65°C for 20 or 15 min respectively. The honey is then taken into a cooling tank or settling tank to maintain at 25° 30°C. Goma Engineering has an exclusive range of cup filling machines and cup sealing machines that aid in the process of efficient honey packing.
Also, Nowadays the concept of homogenization is growing by the day. This increases the demand of excellent high pressure homogenizers, which aid in commercial production to improve the consistency and smoothness of the product.