If you regularly consume honey, you might have noticed that sometimes after long periods of storage time, it becomes less liquid and gets a bit crunchy and thick. This is called crystallization. While crystallized honey is still completely safe to consume and tastes fine, you may want to keep your honey liquid so that it dissolves and spreads easier.
There are several ways to keep honey from crystallizing. The most important factor in the crystallization of honey is the temperature at which the honey is stored. The material of the containers that the honey is stored in also has an impact on crystallization, as well as what type of honey it is.
One important thing to note is that honey crystallizing is actually a great sign that you’ve purchased raw, high-quality honey. So if you notice your honey becoming hard and crunchy, know that it is possible to reverse the process and rest assured that you have good, healthy honey on your hands.
Why Does Honey Crystallize?
Honey is a solution of sugar and water, including glucose and fructose. As time passes, the water separates from the sugars, turning the sugars into crystal form as they attach to small bits of pollen and propolis in the honey. This is called crystallizing. Once honey starts crystallizing, it slowly continues until all the sugar in the honey is in crystal form.
How Do You Keep Honey from Crystallizing?
The most important part of keeping honey from crystallizing is storing it at an appropriate temperature. Storing your honey at room temperature is the best way to keep it from crystallizing. Bee colonies keep their hives very warm, so honey is typically stored at high temperatures within hives.
That doesn’t mean that we need to store honey at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is best stored at room temperature. As soon as the temperature drops below around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the honey will crystallize very quickly. So if you’re storing your honey in the refrigerator, that may be why it is crystallizing so quickly.
Another factor in the crystallization of honey is the container that the honey is stored in. Plastic containers, such as your stereotypical honey bear bottles, allow more moisture to enter the honey than glass jars, which speeds the crystallization process.
If you don’t want your honey to crystallize, it’s important to store your honey in glass jars so that moisture cannot sneak into the honey and cause it to crystallize.
Time in Storage
Another important aspect when it comes to honey crystallization is simply how long the honey is being stored. If your honey is sitting in its jar for long periods of time, it is more likely to crystallize.
You can prevent your honey from crystallizing by purchasing honey in smaller amounts that you can use quickly.
What Types of Honey Crystallize Slowest?
Because crystallization occurs when molecules of glucose attach to small bits of pollen and propolis within honey, removing those bits of propolis and pollen can slow crystallization. When honey is filtered, the process removes most of those little bits of solids that glucose might attach to, meaning that filtered honey crystallizes slower than unfiltered honey.
However, filtered honey lacks most of the nutritional benefits of raw honey because the pollen and propolis is removed. While filtered honey crystallizes slower, it may be worth continuing to purchase raw honey for its health benefits and simply storing it more carefully to keep it from crystallizing.
Different Varieties of Honey
Honey that has lower glucose contents crystallize much slower than other honeys. Some varieties of honey that have lower glucose content include acacia and tupelo honey, while honey that comes from clover and alfalfa has much higher glucose content and crystallizes quickly.
If you want to purchase raw honey that will not crystallize as quickly, check the label and read what plants the honey came from. Avoid clover, manuka, and alfalfa honey, and instead opt for acacia and tupelo honey.
How to Store Honey
The best way to store honey is in glass jars at no colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not store raw honey in the fridge, because it is not necessary to keep the honey from going bad and will cause it to crystallize. If you purchase honey stored in plastic bottles, transfer the honey to glass mason jars to prevent moisture from entering the honey.
How to Decrystallize Honey
While crystallized honey is still completely edible and can be really yummy spread on toast, you may be wondering if it’s possible to reverse the process of crystallization in your honey. And it absolutely is!
In order to decrystallize honey, you must first make sure that it is stored in glass jars. Remove the lids of the jars and place them in a saucepan with water that goes about halfway up the sides of the jars. After the jars are in the water, place the pan on the stove and turn the burner on. Let the water slowly come to a simmer, and leave the honey jars in the water until the honey has returned to its liquid state.
Does Honey Go Bad?
Honey does not go bad, meaning that even when it crystallizes, it is still safe to eat. However, if moisture or bacteria get into the honey, it can be a cause for concern. It is also possible for honey to ferment, which is generally harmless but does change the flavor of the honey substantially.
As long as you store your honey appropriately in glass jars and at room temperature, your honey should be good to eat for years to come.
Can You Eat Honey That Has Crystallized?
It is completely safe to eat honey that has crystallized. In fact, crystallized honey is often sold as “creamed honey,” which is like a spreadable cream that you can put on toast or pancakes. If your honey has crystallized and you are worried about eating it, it is easy to decrystallize the honey and have it back in its original form in no time.
What to Do With Crystallized Honey
You can eat crystallized honey much the same as you would uncrystallized honey. It will melt in your tea or on your bagel, and be perfectly yummy on honey and peanut butter sandwiches or pancakes. Essentially, anything that you’d usually do with your honey, you can do with your crystallized honey.