16 July 2015
Honey can come in a variety of different forms and colours. Each of these states has a different public perception of appearance and the honey that is proved popular is the honey that looks as good as it should; for example, light, liquid honey should have a pale, clear gold shine that looks as pure as it can possibly be.
There are a variety of honey variations from the aforementioned liquid honey, ranging in colour from light to dark to comb, cut comb, naturally crystallised and whipped. All of these variations have certain appearance characteristics that are specific to the particular form the honey takes and care must be taken to keep these characteristics consistent.
What problems can occur with the appearance of honey?
- A change in colour can occur from what is deemed normally for that specific type of honey.
- There could be the presence of additives in the honey that can change its appearance. These additives could be intentional or involuntary but can be supervised to make sure they are not detrimental to the consumer’s opinion of the product.
- Clear honey is supposed to be that, clear. The presence of haze is a key indicator of an issue with its manufacture and can alter the quality of honey.
- Bubbles can appear at any point during the production of honey, from the hive to the jar. Being able to monitor turbidity in the product can keep track of quality and maintain appearance consistency.
- Other ingredients can be added, such as chocolate or vanilla as an example, which can completely change the colour. If these extra ingredients are mixed with the honey, the quantity must be monitored as these can affect overall appearance.
How can we keep an eye on the honey quality?
By using an instrument such as a spectrophotometer, numerical data can be obtained from samples of honey from different batches to make sure that every batch being produced and sold is of the same quality to subsequent batches.
Ideally, for analysing the appearance of honey, regardless of its state, a spectrophotometer that can measure both reflected and transmitted colour of a sample is a must. For samples that are clear or translucent, i.e. you can see through them, the transmitted colour should be measured. For opaque samples or very thick translucent samples that donâ€™t allow much light through, reflected colour should be measured. Having a machine that can accommodate both measurements means quality analysis can be as versatile as the product.
What instrument can be used?
The ColorQuest XE spectrophotometer is capable of measuring the reflected and transmitted colour, haze and turbidity of liquid and solid samples, perfect for a honey application. The ColorQuest XE can give numerical data for a number of different colour indices such as the CIE L*, a*, b* and Hunter L, a, b colour scales and can include yellowness and haze indices. Having a variety of different colour scales able to analyse a sample would give the most accurate range of data possible and allow for a perfect batch standard to be set that other batches can be compared to, keeping consistent quality.
For ease of use, samples should be able to be poured into glass cell, available in varying thickness’s and the cell secured with a transmission cell holder in the transmission compartment. After that, easy to use software can be used to take the measurement and analyse it as needed.
Reflectance measurements are as simple to take as transmitted colour measurements. A glass cell can be used to contain the opaque sample, it can be placed at the reflectance measurement area and the software can be used to read the data and analyse as in depth as is required.
With the varieties of honey available on today’s markets, it can be said that appearance can sway a consumer’s preference of one brand to another. Regardless of the instrument used, keeping a consistently good appearance merely involves a thorough quality control process that can be kept simple and provide un-bee-lievable results!
Content Written by Rachael Stothard