Have you ever opened a jar of honey only to find that the texture is completely different from what you expected to see?
This is known as honey crystallization, and it changes honey from a smooth liquid to a chunkier, almost crunchy substance. Don’t worry! Crystallized honey is generally nothing to worry about, and you might even find that you like it.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Why does honey crystallize?” keep reading to find out how!
What Is Honey Crystallization?
Crystallized honey is honey that has taken on a texture reminiscent of salt scrub and is also known as “set honey.”
Tiny bits of honey will harden, so it seems to contain less liquid. It can be crunchy to eat but generally doesn’t have a change in flavor and feels similar to having sugar mixed into the honey.
Crystallized honey also takes on a more cloudy appearance. This is more common in raw or less processed honey than in commercially produced honey. If you have purchased locally-made honey, it’s likely that you’ve observed some honey crystallization before.
Honey crystallization isn’t permanent, and it can even be reversed.
Why Does Honey Crystallize and How?
Honey crystallizes as a result of the glucose in it, and honey with a higher glucose content is more likely to crystallize more quickly.
Honey is mostly made up of water, sucrose, and glucose, so honey crystallization is very common.
The presence of tiny bits of pollen in less processed honey provides something solid for the glucose to bond to. Honey with more processing is less likely to crystallize because most, if not all, of the pollen or other contaminants, have been removed.
This generally starts to happen in lower temperatures, even inside a hive in colder climates.
Sometimes honey will have a very low moisture content, which leaves less liquid for the glucose to remain dissolved in and can lead to crystallization.
Is Crystallized Honey Safe?
Yes! There is nothing wrong with crystallized honey. It’s still delicious and completely safe to eat.
Some people even enjoy the crunchy texture of crystallized honey; in that case, it can be used as normal.
Occasionally, crystallized honey can begin to ferment if left to sit long enough. This happens because honey can absorb excess moisture from the air, which ferments in the presence of sugar.
Always check the appearance and smell to make sure nothing has spoiled before you enjoy, and you’re good to go! It’s pretty easy to tell if honey is rancid. As long as you don’t get a whiff of something funky or spot bubbles that weren’t there before when you open the jar, your honey is safe.
In fact, honey is a rare product that never really goes bad as long as it has the right moisture content. Honey has been found that was made thousands of years ago and is still safe to eat.
What to Do with Crystallized Honey
If the crystallization doesn’t bother you, you can use it just like any other honey.
Some people will intentionally let honey crystallize a little bit because they enjoy it. A great way to try this is with a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Spread peanut butter on a piece of bread and top it with honey. Let it sit until the honey crystallizes, then top it with a second piece of bread and enjoy.
If the whole jar has crystallized, you can use it as normal, and it’s often easier to spread because it has a thicker consistency. If you prefer smooth and liquid honey, there are simple ways to get it back to that state.
How to De-Crystallize Honey
Since the main factor in honey crystallization is temperature, simply heating the honey will bring it back to liquid.
Mix it directly into hot tea or run the entire jar under hot water to re-dissolve the glucose crystals.
Just make sure to be gentle and patient. Don’t drop the jar into boiling water, as overheating the honey can remove a lot of the flavor and nutritional benefits.
You should also avoid other forms of overheating your honey, such as microwaving it, so it doesn’t get scorched. Too much moisture loss will further change the flavor and texture and can even lead to faster crystallization.
Preventing Honey Crystallization
Honey crystallization usually happens around 50 degrees F or lower, so keeping an eye on the temperature makes a big difference.
The way honey is stored is a big contributor, so storing it in a warmer place can keep it from crystallizing. If you start to notice your honey is getting cloudy, try moving it to a spot that doesn’t get as cold.
Make sure you’re keeping your honey in a tightly sealed container. Absorbing and losing moisture from the air can compromise the texture if it isn’t in an airtight jar.
You can also prevent crystallization by “creaming” honey. This intentionally changes it to a thicker texture through a different process that can help prevent it from crystallizing. It becomes truly creamy and opaque and is a popular honey product because it’s delicious and extra spreadable.
Honey is a natural product, and keeping it in perfect liquid condition isn’t always possible. As long as it hasn’t spoiled, it’s okay if you aren’t able to keep all of your honey from crystallizing.
Delicious Liquid Gold
Crystallized honey is common, and it’s not something you need to worry about. If it bothers you, there are a few ways you can easily prevent or change it back to a completely liquid consistency.
Honey is truly amazing whether it’s crystallized or not, and you might even enjoy the change in texture. Next time, after ensuring it isn’t spoiled first, give it a try before going straight for the warm water.
This miraculous product comes only from honey bees; you won’t believe all the other incredible facts about them!