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Why Does Honey Crystallize?

crystallized honey

Have you ever tossed old honey that has become chunky and crystallized? If you have, you are not alone! Many people mistake this change in texture and appearance as a sign that the honey has gone bad. But did you know that honey can’t go bad? In fact, it is considered the only food that will never spoil. Researchers have even found honey that dates back to the ancient Egyptians- and it was still as delicious as ever!

The grainy honey that you see in the jar has not gone bad. It is simply going through the natural process of crystallization. Crystallization indicates that your honey is unprocessed, raw and real. It also preserves the flavor and quality of the honey, so many people believe that honey in this form is even tastier.

Let’s unearth the reasons for this natural phenomenon. Then, we’ll find out how to prevent your honey from crystallizing if chunky honey isn’t your style.

The Science Behind Honey Crystallization

The reason why raw honey crystallizes has everything to do with its composition. Honey is primarily made up of sugars and water. The two main sugars, glucose and fructose, make up about 70% of honey. The high percentage of sugar in honey makes the water highly saturated with sugar, and this is where crystallization begins. Glucose is less soluble than fructose and will start to separate from the water over time. This creates small crystals that will spread throughout the honey as more and more glucose separates from water.

Ready for another fascinating fact about crystallization in honey?

Unfiltered honey will show more crystallization more quickly because there is residual pollen and other particles that will encourage crystals to form. Some honey will take much longer to crystallize because of the type of nectar used by the honey bees. In the honey-making process, bees move from flower to flower collecting nectar. Nectar with higher glucose levels will form crystals more quickly, while nectar with higher fructose levels will form crystals more slowly.

How to Prevent Honey from Crystallizing

Raw, unfiltered honey will naturally crystallize and there isn’t much you can do to prevent it. Some people prefer honey in the crystallized form as it is easier to spread and use in cooking. For those who prefer the liquid version, here are a few tips for preventing your honey from crystallizing.

Honey stored at lower temperatures will form crystals more quickly. Be sure to store your honey at room temperature rather than outdoors or in a cold pantry. Another storage tip that can help ward of the crystallization process is to store your honey in a glass jar. Other containers, including plastic, are more porous and allow more moisture, which will encourage crystals to form.

Finally, you can choose varieties of honey that have lower glucose content such as tupelo honey. Honey with less glucose will naturally take longer to form crystals.

If your honey has already crystallized, you can restore it to its liquid state very easily. Place the jar in hot water and stir to distribute the heat evenly. Just be sure not to burn the honey or get it too hot. Too much heat can destroy enzymes and other vital ingredients that give honey its delicious and nutritious properties.

Crystallization is Natural

If you find yourself with a jar of crystallized honey, don’t throw it away! Honey is still good even if crystals have begun to form. It is natural for honey to form crystals. You could even say that finding crystals is a good sign. It means that your honey is raw, unfiltered and of a high quality.

Hopefully, we’ve answered your questions about why honey forms crystals. To learn more about honey, check out some of our other articles.

How Do Bees Make Honey?

What is Honey and How is It Made?  

9 Unexpected Uses for Honey

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