Why does my honey crystallize?

Honey crystallizes - get over it!

"Why does my honey look so crumbly? Oh no! What are these flakes that float around at the bottom of the jar? And this crust on the top of the jar?

And right here we say: STOP! Don't throw the honey in the trash. There is nothing wrong with it! Properly stored honey can stay good for decades - even centuries. Archaeologists have found honey in ancient Egyptian tombs - and it was still good! How can that be? The sugar content of honey and the low pH make it impossible for organisms that spoil food to survive in honey. In addition, of course, there is a bit of bee magic, but that's a topic for another post ;-)

Back to your crumbly honey. Don't worry, it's just starting to crystallize. This is a natural process that almost every honey goes through. Hold on to your beekeeping veil, we're about to become scientific!

Crystallized honey, liquid honey and cream honey from PureBee

What is crystallization?

Honey is a highly concentrated sugar solution. The two main types of sugar in honey are fructose and glucose. The ratio of these two types of sugar is one of the factors that determine how quickly a honey crystallizes. The higher the glucose content, the faster the crystallization starts. Conversely, honey with more fructose crystallizes much more slowly.

What actually turns into crystals is the glucose in honey. (Fructose is more water-soluble than glucose, so it remains viscous, so it is more liquid.) Glucose separates from the water in honey due to its lower solubility, binds to a microscopic pollen grain or an air bubble and is then in the form of crystals. Since the crystals are denser than the remaining honey in the jar, they collect on the bottom. As more and more glucose crystallizes, the honey changes from an unstable saturated solution to a stable saturated form, which makes the honey thick and granular.

Are you still with me? Great! Let’s continue researching.

Almost every honey crystallizes, but not every crystallization looks the same. Some honeys crystallize evenly while others only partially crystallize, resulting in a solid layer on the bottom with a liquid layer on the top. The size of the crystals also varies from honey to honey. Some form fine crystals that give a nice, smooth and creamy spread. Other honeys develop large, jagged crystals that result in a thick, grainy texture. The faster a honey crystallizes, the finer the texture.

Maybe you have already tried our delicious original cream honey? Guess - CRYSTALLIZED. That's right, we deliberately make these honeys crystallize quickly in a controlled environment so that they develop into a smooth, creamy, and sweet honey that you just can't get enough of!

You want to know why this honey is white?

When honey granulates, it loses its golden yellow or amber color and acquires a light, almost frosty color. This is because the crystals are basically dehydrated glucose particles and they are naturally pure white.

What affects crystallization?

Most types of honey crystallize after being removed from the honeycomb, however honey containing less than 30 percent glucose - such as acacia honey - can largely resist crystallization. (Note, however, that honey is a natural product, so it cannot be 100% ruled out that crystallization will still occur)

In addition to the chemical composition of honey, temperature is another main factor that influences crystallization. It is best to keep the honey in a closed container at a room temperature between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius. Honey can also be kept in the refrigerator if necessary, but crystallizes faster and becomes denser. If you keep honey in the freezer, it will be preserved and will not granulate because the temperature is too cold for crystal formation.

A note on storing cream honey: keep it at room temperature if you like it soft and creamy, and in the fridge if you want it to be a little thicker. However, warm temperatures promote the separation of cream honey. So if you want to keep it as creamy as possible, it's best to store it cool or eat it quickly.

Centrifuged honey tends to crystallize faster than honeycomb honey. The extraction and filling process brings tiny bubbles into the honey, on which crystals can form more easily. Honey like ours, which is natural and not extensively machine-filtered and processed, also contains particles of pollen, beeswax and propolis (basically all the good and healthy ingredients). Crystals prefer these particles. So crystallization is an indication that the honey you bought is of high quality.

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Why people don't like crystallized honey

So why do some people freak out when a few crystals form in honey? The short answer is because we were conditioned to think that way. People in other parts of the world don't even blink about crystallized honey. In Germany, many people are used to supermarket honey, which is usually a mass-produced pasteurized mixture of low-quality and / or heavily filtered honey. This honey does not crystallize. Why? The honey is processed industrially to a great extent, which filters out all the pollen contained in it. And as we have just learned, it is the pollen to which the glucose adheres during the crystallization process. (Not every honey in the supermarket is "inferior" these days. There are some high-quality honeys on the shelves, but you have to read carefully)

How do you make the honey liquid again?

If you notice that your honey is starting to crystallize and you just can't stand it, you can do some of the following:

The best method is to fill a bowl with hot (not boiling) water and leave the jar of honey in it until the crystals have dissolved. Turn the glass over occasionally to ensure that the heat is evenly distributed. It is important that the honey is not heated above 38 degrees Celsius to preserve the enzymes and vitamins it contains. So be very careful, because high temperatures can not only destroy the nutrients but also change the color and taste of the honey.

You can also use crystallized honey for baking.

My tip: just use your crystallized honey to sweeten freshly brewed coffee or tea. Or spread it on warm, freshly baked cookies or golden brown toast, where the crystallized honey melts in seconds and gives a wonderfully delicious sweet taste.