Honey is usually liquid. But in some conditions, it crystallizes. The crystallization of honey occurs when the glucose in it becomes particles and the honey loses its fluency. Crystallization is a harmless change that can be encountered at every stage from production to consumption in many pure and high-quality honey types. Crystallization is not an indication that honey is spoiled or false. Honey can be consumed as it crystallizes, it does not lose its nutritional value.
The crystallization of honey is affected by the rate of water, glucose, and fructose in honey, honey’s storage temperature, fluctuation of this storage temperature, and the number of solid particles such as the pollen contained in honey. The most important of these is the glucose/water ratio. As the glucose ratio increases, the tendency to crystallize increases. Honey with a glucose/water ratio of less than 1.7 does not get crystallized but if this ratio is higher than 2.1, honey will be crystallized in a short time.
Ambient temperature also affects crystallization. Crystallization is generally observed at moderate temperatures such as 10-21 ° C. Temperatures below 10 ° C are ideal to protect from crystallization. At higher temperatures, crystallization is inhibited at 21-27 ° C. Crystallization does not occur at temperatures above 27 ° C, but honey may deteriorate by fermentation and lose its properties. To protect honey from crystallization, it is recommended that stored honey be stored at 18-24 ° C, while untreated honey should be stored at 10 ° C or less.
Consumers can keep the honey container in warm water, the temperature of which does not exceed 38 C, to liquefy the crystallized honey, if desired. Sunflower, clover, melon, dandelion, cotton honey crystallize very quickly, while acacia, mustard, rhododendron, and glandular honey crystallize late. Sage honey can remain for years without crystallization.
The Crystallization Process of Honey
Crystallized honey is defined as “honey in cream and fondant consistency, by being subjected to any of the crystallization methods or without any treatment to crystallize the honey.” As can be seen, the crystallization of honey is not a deterioration, but it is a natural phenomenon that can occur according to the vegetable source from which honey is obtained. However, most consumers think of crystallized honey as fraudulent honey due to ignorance. This mistake causes problems in the marketing of honey in the world. The truth is that many natural and high-quality honey can begin to crystallize very quickly, even immediately after the strain phase.
The water’s glucose and fructose ratios, the storage temperature of the honey, the fluctuation of the storage temperature and the number of solid particles such as pollen in the honey are effective for the crystallization of honey. While the fructose rate of honey decreases, the increase in glucose rate supports crystallization. However, recent studies focus more on the glucose/water ratio in determining the crystallization tendency of honey. Accordingly, it is reported that honey with a glucose/water ratio of less than 1.7 does not crystallize, whereas honey with a ratio higher than 2.1 crystallizes in a short time.
To recapitulate, especially in terms of informing consumers, the crystallization of honey is a completely natural phenomenon and does not affect the quality of honey. In some countries, honey that has been crystallized and even crystallized by special methods is consumed with pleasure, while in some countries it is a great mistake to look at such honey with suspicion and it is the greatest injustice to natural and quality honey.
Although some methods are suggested to prevent the crystallization of honey, most of them are either illegal or not practical. The simplest method to apply is to keep the honey at 5 C for 5 weeks and then to store it at 14 C. Consumers can keep the honey pot in warm water, the temperature of which does not exceed 38 ° C, to make the honey dissolved.
The Composition of Honey That Causes Crystallization
The composition of honey varies according to the plant species in the region where the honey is produced and the time of production. However, on average, 80% of honey consists of different sugars and 17% consists of water. The remaining 3% consists of substances that make honey valuable, especially enzymes. The average values of the substances that make up the composition of the honey are given below.
- Water 17.20%
- Sugars 79.59%
- Fructose (Fruit Sugar) 38.19%
- Glucose (Grape Sugar) 31.28%
- Sucrose (Tea Sugar) 1.31%
- Maltose (Disaccharides) 7.31%
- High Sugars 1.50%
- Acids 0.57%
- Protein 0.26%
- Ash 0.17%
- Trace Elements 2.21%
- Flavor and Flavor Ingredients
- Sugar Alcohols
Information on the Substances That Make up the Composition of Honey
The amount of water in honey differs depending on the maturation of the honey. Normally ripe honey contains around 17% water. The high rate of water in honey causes the honey to deteriorate more easily. Therefore, honey should be obtained from honeycombs, which are completely or at least half glazed.
Honey contains about 15 different types of sugar, depending on its source and the activities of the enzymes secreted by the glands of bees that turn honey into honey. However, the vast majority of sugars are fructose (levulose) and glucose (dextrose). The total sugar ratio in honey is around 80%.
Honey contains valuable mineral substances such as iron, copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, aluminum, chrome, nickel and cobalt. Secretion honey is richer in mineral substances. Because of this feature, they are also used for therapeutic purposes and they are preferred by some consumers because they are not crystallized.
Depending on the source of honey, amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are found in very low levels in honey. 17 different amino acids were detected in honey.
Acids are substances that give honey a distinctive smell and ensure that the honey is acidic. The pH value of honey varies between 3.4 and 6.1 under different conditions, on average, it is 3.9.
There are different enzymes in honey, some of which come from plants and some from bee glands. Enzymes are the most valuable ingredients of honey. The amount of enzymes in natural and unheated honey is quite high, and such honey is of high quality and very valuable. As the honey is heated, there will be losses in the enzyme value.
Honey contains B, C, E, and K vitamins depending on the source and the amount and type of pollen in it.
How to Dissolve Crystallized Honey?
There are many different applications for the solution of the crystallized honey. It is best done by keeping the honey in boilers at a temperature of 40-45 degrees for 2-3 days. It may not be possible to achieve this under home conditions. Unfortunately, although I recommend consuming crystallized honey, unfortunately, the consumption of it is not very widely accepted.
Therefore, it is recommended to leave the jar at a temperature of 45 degrees for a while to dissolve the honey that crystallizes at home. It may be possible to keep the honey jar in warm water left in the teapot after breakfast or even to heat the honey directly without letting the honey boil over a little low heat. The important thing to note here is not to let the honey boil. In other words, the honey should not be exposed to more than 45 degrees of heat, the kettle should be closed after heating, if necessary, it should be kept in a little warmer water, and it should never be allowed to get into contact water.
Although we keep the honey at room temperature so that the honey does not freeze, crystallization, that is, freezing occurs because the live pollen contained in the honey protects itself. It is recommended to store the honey, for example, on the heater core. Honey stored in a warm environment does not freeze easily. Nevertheless, it is recommended to consume it in this way if it freezes. If it is desired to be heated, it is necessary to keep the honey in 45 degrees water for a while to dissolve it.
Why Does Honey Whiten?
It is the color of nectar in nature that gives the color of honey. In other words, whatever color nectar the bees bring from nature, honey becomes that color. The color of the most produced honey in the world is on average, from brown to yellow, reddish.
- Oak honey, for example, is black.
- Chestnut honey has a reddish-black color. It may also have a black color.
- Sunflower honey is yellow. But if there is some chestnut honey in it, it becomes crimson honey.
- Canola honey is white in color. It crystallizes a few days after harvest.
- The highland honey is light yellow. There may be different variants as an exception.
- Geven honey is slightly reddish.
- Pine honey is yellow.
So, each honey has a different color. Even the color of the honey produced in almost the same region but in two different bees may be different. Even the color of honey produced in two hives side by side may be different. The colors of the pollen collected by the bees can be different as they are taken from very different plants. This is quite natural.
If we look at honeycomb honey, unfortunately, I say unwillingly that most honeycomb honey sold in the markets (be careful, I say most) are produced by supplementing bees with additives. If some nectar comes from nature, the color of this honey might be a little reddish, brownish. However, it is generally white in color. Because the color of the sugar is white. For this reason, honeycomb honey is generally white.
During the sale of honeycomb honey, information about which region the honey is produced by which beekeeper should be included, and it should be written that whether the honey is produced by giving supplementing food to bees (glucose, corn syrup, sugar, etc.). This is, of course, my opinion. This is the right thing. Unfortunately, the world has not reached this maturity yet.
Not All Honey That Crystallizes Is Real Honey
It is stated that the only way to restore the crystallized honey is to melt the honey in a double boiler, provided that it does not exceed 45 degrees. Honey, which has been used as a natural medicine throughout history and has been added to beauty prescriptions to make face masks since ancient times, is one of the foods with the longest shelf life. Honey can be stored for hundreds of years without deterioration unless exposed to various external influences such as moisture and sunlight.
The glucose and fructose ratio of honey changes according to the flower collected by the bees. Honey, which can be kept intact for centuries, crystallizes within a few months to protect itself. Saying that the crystallization of honey is a natural phenomenon and that the honey can crystallize in a year to protect itself, the experts underlined that the honey, which can be restored by melting the double boiler method, should not be boiled.
Genuine flower honey crystallizes quickly. However, fake honey sold under the name of honey by adding glucose syrup and essential oil will not crystallize. Honey protects itself in order to remain intact for thousands of years and therefore crystallizes. Crystallized honey does not lose anything from its nutritional properties and flavor. The use of crystallized honey is especially common in European countries.
The only method to restore the honey is to melt it in a double boiler. But honey should be heated slowly and very carefully, without boiling. If honey boils suddenly by exposure to high temperature, it loses its aroma, enzymes, and nutritional value. If heating is absolutely necessary, the temperature should be checked with a thermometer so that the temperature of the honey does not exceed 45 degrees. It is not right to keep the honey you are heating hot for a long time. Therefore, it is necessary to quickly cool the honey before putting it back into jars.
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