Oh no! My honey has crystallized or frozen... is it Pure?
All kinds of honey will naturally crystallize over time, though Acacia, Ajwain, and Tulsi honey take an incredibly long time in contrary to Mustard and Sheesham honey that crystallizes really fast. The majority of honey will begin the process of crystallization as soon as they leave the 35°C hive. Honey can also crystallize inside a hive if the bee cluster isn’t on top of it and it drops to 10°C for a while.
How fast honey crystallizes involves a number of factors, and the main one is how much glucose versus fructose was in the nectar that the bees used to make the honey. Honey contains a variety of sugars, including glucose, fructose, sucrose, and maltose. During the process from nectar to honey, the bees’ stomach enzymes break down most of the sucrose into glucose and fructose. Thus 70% of the honey content is made up of glucose and fructose, while around 18% is water. Glucose and fructose are the reason that the honey tastes sweet, but it is glucose that influences crystallization.
Because the water content is so low, honey is considered to be a supersaturated solution of the various sugars (a solution is considered saturated when as much solid as possible has been dissolved in it). Over time, the glucose molecules crystallize or separate out of the solution that the bees have created, forming crystals.
Once this happens, the first crystals act as a seed, creating more crystals and filling the whole container. Tiny molecules of pollen, propolis, and wax can also serve as a building point for crystals to start off. The honey is still perfectly fine to eat – to revert it back to its liquid form, all that’s required is the immersion in warm water for a few minutes.
The last two factors that can influence honey crystallization are temperature where honey is stored and the type of container. When honey drops towards 10°C as mentioned in the first paragraph, it will crystallize much faster. Honey stored between 20°C and 35°C will remain liquid longer, and frozen honey will not crystallize because the process cannot happen while it is frozen.
As far as container types go, air particles pass more quickly through the plastic as it is far more porous than glass. Therefore, honey in a glass jar will take longer to crystallize than in a plastic tub.
Interesting Crystallization Facts:
- Some honey crystallizes with a smoother texture than others. Our Sheesham and Himalayan multi-floral honey crystallize smoothly while our mustard honey will granulate coarsely and quickly.
- Honey often crystallizes from the bottom up. This may be because of the lower temperatures on the bottom of the jar or the crystals drifting to the bottom because they weigh more.
- If your honey has only a few crystals at the bottom and it never spreads upwards, it may be a sign that your honey contains something other than honey.
How To Get Your Crystallized Honey Back Into Liquid Form?
Once the honey is crystallized you must be careful not to overheat it, as this may burn it, degrading enzymes, and alter the flavor of the honey. Putting honey in the microwave is a no-no. To be on the safe side, most honey forums suggest 35-40°C, with the highest limit at 49°C.
1) Dip your container in hot water and let it stand for some time, this may require repeating if not all crystals are dissolved by the time the water cools.
2) Another method is to simply keep the jar out in sunlight for a few hours for long slow warming.
So next time you see the honey that has crystallized, don't worry, just see that the crystallization should be uniform. In fact, crystallized honey spread better. So enjoy a good spread of honey on your toast!