Can you see the tiny crystals forming?

Why Does Honey Crystallise?

Last Updated on January 30, 2024 by Ecologica Life

Has your honey crystallised? Are you worried that your honey has gone off? In this article, we will explain why raw honey crystallises and what you can do about it. We will end the article by touching briefly on the benefits of organic honey.

What is Raw Honey?

Credit: Timothy Paule II/Pexels

To avoid confusion, the term ‘raw honey’ refers to honey that comes straight from the hive. The good news is that it’s OK for raw honey to be cloudy; it’s not a bad thing. It means that crystallisation has started.

Filtered honey goes through a process of heating and rapid cooling. The heat prevents crystallisation, but also destroys most of the enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. The filtering process also removes most of the pollen. Note, however, that filtered honey has a longer shelf life.

Filtered vs Unfiltered Honey

Honey producers can make either filtered or unfiltered honey. Unfiltered honey is sometimes called honey or pure honey.

The difference between the two is that pure or raw honey contains all the components of the original bee product. This includes pollen, wax and sometimes pieces of honeycomb. These elements contribute to the rich flavour, texture, and potential health benefits of the honey.

However, raw honey is likely to crystallise more quickly. This usually depends on how you store your honey.

Why Would Honey Crystallise?

  • Two sugars – fructose and glucose – make up most of the super-saturated solution that is honey. Over time, some of the sugars in the overly saturated solution will naturally separate from the solution. Because of the glucose, all raw honey will eventually crystallise.
  • The pollen fragments in raw honey provide an excellent substrate for crystallisation.
  • The low water content of honey both facilitates crystallisation and prevents fermentation.
  • The ratio of glucose to fructose in flower nectar varies. This also affects the rate at which crystallisation occurs.

How to Prevent Honey from Crystallising

Crystallisation in honey is naturally occurring process and therefore inevitable. However, keeping the jar of honey in a warm place can slow down the process. When honey crystallises naturally, it becomes thicker (tiny crystals form) and cloudy. Some crystallisation produces a creamy smoothness, while others produce a grainy, syrupy texture with honey crystals

Can You Eat Crystallised Honey?

Your honey is safe, and you shouldn’t waste it. You can decrystallise honey in hot drinks! If you need liquid honey, place it in a warm water bath of about 40ºC (100ºF) for at least 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can boil the water for a few minutes to dissolve the crystals.

Organic Honey

Finally, to conclude this article, we would like to take a moment to discuss organic honey. This is because at Ecologica.life we believe in choosing consumer options that are better for the planet and our health. Organic honey is one such options.

Beekeepers collect organic honey using organic farming practices. This means that the bees collect nectar from areas where flowers and plants are free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers. Even common pesticides have been shown to be harmful to bumblebees.

Two bumblebees on a purple flower. Collecting pollen to make honey
Colour vision is important for an insect searching for flowers. Credit: Micheal Hodgins

The beehives are typically constructed using natural materials and are far away from non-organic fields to avoid contamination.

A consumer may prefer organic honey for several reasons. Firstly, they may want to avoid indirect exposure to the chemicals used in conventional farming.

Secondly, some consumers believe that organic farming practices result in higher quality, more flavoursome honey.

Thirdly, choosing organic honey can be a way of supporting environmentally friendly farming practices. Organic regulations often include requirements to protect local ecosystems and promote biodiversity.

Finally, because organic honey is often sold in the unfiltered form, it may contain traces of pollen, propolis and beeswax. These components, such as propolis, can have health benefits. Note, however, that not all raw and unfiltered honey is organic. The two terms are not synonymous.

To find out more about organic food, read our guide to organic food.

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