For some region, there is a common misconception that honey that crystallizes has “gone bad” or that it is a sign of impurity. No! It’s actually a sign of high-quality honey. Don’t throw your crystallized honey out, unless you like to waste delicious food.
The crystallization process is natural and spontaneous. Pure honey has a natural tendency to crystallize over time with no effect on the honey other than color and texture. Some kinds of honey crystallize uniformly, some will be partially crystallized and form two layers, with the crystallized layer on the bottom of the jar and a liquid on top. The crystals also vary some form small fine crystals and some large gritty ones. The more rapid honey crystallizes, the finer the texture will be. The crystallized honey tends to set a paler color than when in liquid.
Basically, three things make honey more likely to crystallize
- The ratio of Fructose and Glucose in Honey
Why does Honey Crystallize?
Honey is a highly concentrated sugar solution. It contains more than 70% sugars and about 20% water. This means that the water in honey contains more sugar than it should naturally hold. The overabundance of sugar makes honey unstable. Thus, it is natural for honey to crystallize since it is an over-saturated sugar solution.
The two principal sugars in honey are fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (grape sugar). The content of fructose and glucose in honey varies from one type of honey to the other. Generally, the fructose ranges from 30- 44% and glucose from 25- 40%. The balance of these two major sugars causes the crystallization of honey, and the relative percentage of each determines whether it crystallizes rapidly or slowly. What crystallizes is the glucose, due to its lower solubility. Fructose is more soluble in water than glucose and will remain fluid.
When glucose crystallizes, it separates from the water and takes the form of tiny crystals. As the crystallization progresses and more glucose crystallizes, those crystals spread throughout the honey. The solution changes to a stable saturated form, and ultimately the honey becomes thick or crystallized.
Сооlеr tеmреrаturе (bеlоw 10°С) аrе іdеаl fоr сrуѕtаllіzаtіоn dеlау, whеrеаѕ tеmреrаturе frоm 10°С tо 21°С fаvоr thе рrосеѕѕ. Ніghеr tеmреrаturеѕ (21°С – 27°С) dеlау сrуѕtаllіzаtіоn lіkе thе lоwеr оnеѕ, but соuld аffесt nеgаtіvеlу ѕоmе оf thе vаluаblе hоnеу соmроnеntѕ. Ѕtіll hіghеr tеmреrаturеѕ ѕuссеѕѕfullу рrеvеnt сrуѕtаllіzаtіоn, but ѕроіl hоnеу аt lоng-tеrm ѕtоrаgе.
Honey with pollen in it is great honey, but crystallization happens faster when there are small particles available to build on. Fresh, raw honey has a lot of those in the form of pollen grains.