Crystallization of Honey
Crystallization of Honey
We often hear about concerns regarding crystallized honey. Some customers assume that honey that has become crystallized as an unnatural, adulterated honey or a poor-quality honey. Some even think that crystallized honey is spoiled and should be discarded. Some consumers appreciate the ease of spreading honey in its semi-solid state without the messy drips bur most are familiar with honey that stays liquid for a long period of time and they want honey clear and free of any cloudy substance. Therefore, many honey suppliers are just giving what consumers want, but is that the best honey? Most likely it has been heated or even pasteurized, destroying the beneficial enzymes. If it is clear it might not contain pollen and propolis. The entire food industry, as we all know, is basically driven by the perception of wholesomeness and not by real wholesomeness.
The truth is, crystallization of honey is a natural and uncontrolled process. Containing more than 70% sugars and less than 20% water, honey is naturally an unstable super-saturated sugar solution. Over time, almost all pure raw honey crystallizes. The composition ratio of glucose and fructose in a floral nectar source determines how fast the honey crystallizes. Honey varietals with a low fructose to glucose ratio, such as floral varietals Dandelion, Aster, and Clover honey crystallize swiftly in days and weeks, while honey varietals with a high fructose to glucose ratio such as Tupelo, and Acacia crystallize slowly and stay liquid for a long time.
Some honeys crystallize uniformly while others crystallize partially at the bottom of the jar and form a layer of liquid on top. Also, the size of the crystals formed varies from honey to honey; some varietals crystallize rapidly to form fine crystals while others, slowly to form large ones. This is the reason why some honey varietals crystallize to form a coarse sugary texture, and some varietals crystallize to form a smooth creamy consistency. Even though the formation of crystals has absolutely no bearing on the quality of honey, somehow most people still reject honey that is sugary and coarse in texture. Creamed honey is made by a whipping process and it not the same as crystallized honey however the creaming process is seeded by using a finely crystallized honey.
To return a bottle of crystallized honey to liquid state, simply place it in a sunny location or warm it in a warm water bath for about 15 minutes or as soon as the granules have dissolved. It is not recommended to microwave the honey. Subjecting honey to too much heat would destroy the live enzymes. Store honey at room temperature in air-tight containers, refrigerating it is not recommended as it would accelerate the process of crystallization and harden the honey,
Unfiltered raw honey can contain particles such wax bits, pollen grains and propolis which serve as nuclei for accelerating the growth of crystals. Thus, most supermarkets do not carry such honey as it tends to crystallize even more quickly. Processed honey remains in liquid form on the market shelves for a much longer time as sugar crystals have been dissolved by heating (pasteurization) and any suspended particles are removed by filtration.