Honey Extraction and Processing

Learn how to extract, process, and store honey with step-by-step instructions.

| December 2015

  • Extracting honey is sticky business. The frame shown here will need something washable to lean upon, and you need somewhere to put the emptied frame.
    Illustration by Elena Bulay
  • A potato masher does a good job of breaking up the comb.
    Illustration by Elena Bulay
  • It will take about 16 hours to strain the honey from the comb at room temperature. Figure that a 4-gallon bucket will hold 50 to 53 pounds of honey. Figure you will get 2 1/2 to 3 pounds from each frame. (Honey weights 12 pounds per gallon.)
    Illustration by Elena Bulay
  • Strain a second time through butter muslin to get clear honey.
    Illustration by Elena Bulay
  • Let the honey sit in the bucket for a day or so to reduce the amount of air bubbles in it. Then fill clean canning jars with the clear honey.
    Illustration by Elena Bulay
  • In โ€œThe Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How,โ€ Andrea Chesman shows you how to bridge the gap between field and table, covering everything from curing meats and making sausage to canning fruits and vegetables, milling flour, working with sourdough, baking no-knead breads, making braises and stews that can be adapted to different cuts of meat, rendering lard and tallow, pickling, making butter and cheese, making yogurt, blanching vegetables for the freezer, making jams and jellies, drying produce, and much more.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How (Storey Publishing, 2015) by Andrea Chesman is a simple-to-follow handbook to get curious foodies on their way to becoming self-reliant cooks and expand the horizons of experienced homesteaders. The following excerpt is from Chapter 5, “Homemade Sweeteners.”

Buy this book from the GRIT store: The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How.

If you keep bees, you have already made some basic decisions that affect what will come into the kitchen. If you planned to extract the honey, you set up the hive with wired foundations that are strong enough to withstand the mechanics of the extractor. Then you either bought a honey extractor or built one from the many plans available in beekeeping books and online. But if you planned to bring comb honey into your kitchen, you started with either an open hive or a thin, non-wired foundation. You can drain and filter comb honey (a slow process), or you can enjoy eating it by the spoonful or spread on toast or crackers.

You can even cut it into small chunks and use it as a garnish. Chances are, you want both comb honey and some filtered liquid honey to bake with, serve with tea, and so on. There are a couple of ways you can extract honey from a small amount of comb in the kitchen. But be warned! Honey attracts ants, flies, and other insects, so try to keep everything very, very, clean.



How to Extract Honey

A low-tech way to extract honey is the “squish and drain” method (or the “squish and spin” alternative). To go slightly higher tech, install a honey gate — a spout with an on/off lever — in a plastic bucket (it will require drilling a hole); you can dispense the filtered honey from this bucket into canning jars for storage, which will make the process much easier and neater.

Equipment

• Long-bladed knife



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