When Honey Goes Cloudy: Crystallization of Honey



Honey getting cloudy (a.k.a crystallization) over time creates a false belief and impression that there is something false in it and that honey is fraudulent or poor quality. The reasons for the crystallization of honey are primarily a natural process in which liquid honey solidifies upwards starting from the bottom of the jar over time, and natural honey, especially flower honey, crystallizes over time and depending on storage conditions.

The feeling left in the mouth is that the natural sugar structures in the honey turn crystalline over time. Flowering pollen structure, which is a source of process, occurs quickly or slowly depending on the natural sugar structures in honey, the ambient temperature, and the storage conditions. Natural flower honey may crystallize over time. Storing honey in the refrigerator or in the cold is particularly speed up this process. Unnatural false honey, in other words, sugar syrups (cheated) or overheated honey do not freeze or crystallize. Yet, honey consumers generally do not like this crystallization.



For this reason, honey-producing companies want to delay this process with heat treatment applications and make their product visually beautiful. This reduces the quality of honey and increases the carcinogenic substance we call HMF in honey. In order to delay freezing, it is best to keep the honey at room temperature and store it in places such as a kitchen cabinet or pantry. Another issue to be considered is that honey should not get direct sunlight and should be kept away from the heat sources.

If your honey crystallizes, place it in hot water (about 45 degrees) by placing the container (glass jar or can) in it, and it turns into liquid again and dissolves. Or if you heat it slightly and pass it through the hand blender, you will get very beautiful and healthy cream honey. Care should be taken not to boil or burn the honey and to expose it to heat for a long time, otherwise, the HMF value will increase, the enzymes and amino acids that are very useful in it may lose their value. Finally, your honey will crystallize early or late due to its natural nature. Don’t see this as something negative or bad. This is a condition in the nature of honey.

Why Does Honey Crystallize or Freeze?


The reason that honey crystallizes or in other words freezes is the high sugar content in it. Of course, honey, especially flower honey freezes over time depending on storage conditions. An important issue about honey is whether the crystallization of honey sold as filter honey after a while is a problem or not. This situation is sometimes misinterpreted as some sugar syrup was added to honey. However, this belief is the opposite of the truth.



Because honey added with sugar syrup can remain without crystallization for a very long time, and pure and natural honey can be crystallized in a short period of time in a few months, even if it varies according to the type of flowers from which honey is obtained. This is definitely a natural phenomenon and it is not a problem preventing the consumption of honey. Unnatural false honey, i.e. sugar syrups (cheat) or some overheated honey do not crystallize. However, it should not be forgotten that the honey may also not crystallize due to its nature.

Honey can be consumed in its crystallized form, or it can be dissolved in a boiler-like heating process (heating the honey in a container filled with water that will not burn) and then consumed. Crystallization in honey is by no means an indication of fake honey. There is no health problem in consuming crystallized honey. The main reasons for the crystallization are the type of flowers used in the formation of honey, the air bubbles contained in the honey, the amount of pollen and other particles, the humidity and temperature of the place where the honey is stored, and the type of packaging containers. The crystallization of honey is a natural phenomenon and is defined as the crystallization of glucose molecules as honey becomes saturated in terms of glucose.



The optimum temperature for crystallization is around 14 ° C. Crystallization slows down below 10 ° C and above 26.5 ° C. In order to delay freezing, it is best to keep the honey at room temperature and store it in places such as a kitchen cabinet or pantry. Another issue to be considered is that honey does not get direct sunlight and is kept away from the heat sources. There is no health problem in consuming crystallized honey. In Europe, America, and Canada, the consumption of honey as “cream honey” is very common by crystallizing it under controlled conditions. The consumer prefers this product, which has a creamy consistency and less fluid, more spreadable properties, to liquid honey.

It is impossible to understand whether honey is natural from its taste, color, smell, and fluidity. It can be understood that honey is real or fake in laboratories where only all analyses can be made and technical equipment is sufficient. The crystallization of honey does not indicate that it is fake. The most common sugars found naturally in honey are glucose and fructose. If the rate of glucose is high in the nectar of the plant, honey will crystallize over time. If the amount of fructose in the honey is high, the honey can be stored without crystallizing for a longer time. The crystallization of honey is related to the composition of the honey (glucose and water), the presence of particles (pollen, etc.) and the storage temperature. The optimum temperature for crystallization to occur is 14 ° C.

Can Crystallized Honey Be Consumed?


Honey is a high concentration of sugar solution. It contains more than 70% sugar and less than 20% water. Two basic sugars in honey are fructose and glucose. Escuredo et al. (2014) stated that faster crystallization in honey will be associated with lower F (fructose) / G (glucose) ratio and lower water rate. During the crystallization, glucose first begins to crystallize. Fructose has a higher solubility and stays in solution longer. Crystallization in honey is defined as the crystallization of glucose molecules, as a result of which the honey becomes saturated in terms of glucose.



This situation is sometimes interpreted as sugar syrup added to honey. The situation is the opposite of the truth. Because honey added with sugar syrup does not crystallize for a very long time, pure and natural honey can crystallize in a few months, especially if it is stored in the winter (around 14 C). Regarding this, Yao et al. (2003) stated that temperature is a critical factor for honey crystallization; While high temperature prevents honey from crystallizing, low temperature encourages honey to crystallize. Crystallized honey is not spoiled honey and preserves the flavor and quality characteristics of liquid honey.

The presentation of raw honey as it is taken from the hive is the most natural form of honey consumption. It is not pasteurized and filtered to remove pollen. Pasteurization, i.e. heating to high temperatures, results in a decrease in the valuable components of natural phenolic and flavonoid structure with natural enzymes, vitamins and antioxidant properties in honey. Filtration, which is done to get rid of the pollen, decreases the naturally occurring pollen in honey. The filtration process mentioned here is not the cleaning of visible substances and coarse particles in honey, honeycomb particles, bee particles, etc. It is the removal of the invisible pollen in the honey from the honey in order to prevent the crystallization of the honey. In other words, it is the removal of nutrients that gives honey its healing properties.



Pasteurization in foods is normally done to kill microorganisms, but this process is done in honey to prevent crystallization, not to provide microbial safety. The heating process ensures that the honey remains crystal clear and transparent without being crystallized for a long time. Pasteurizing and filtering honey is not actually a very necessary process. There is no need to prevent honey from crystallizing. The crystallization of honey is a completely natural phenomenon and there is no harm in consuming honey in crystal form. The only reason firms pasteurize and filter the honey is to ensure that the honey on the shelf remains transparent and viscous like glass during the sale. Because the consumers do not buy the crystallized honey as they think it has added sugar, and the markets return the crystallized honey to the companies that package it.

Is Crystallized Honey Harmful to Health?


Contrary to popular belief, true honey sometimes crystallizes. This doesn’t mean it’s broken. It can be consumed as it crystallizes; it does not lose its nutritional value. It is possible to bring the honey to its consistency before crystallization: It is sufficient to heat it in the double boiler (in a container filled with water at a temperature not exceeding 45 ° C, without direct contact with water), to dissolve the crystallized honey. Fake honey does not crystallize; because there are no natural extracts in it. Crystallization does not prevent the consumption of honey. Honey can be consumed in its crystallized form or it can be consumed by dissolving crystals by double boiler heating.



An important issue about honey is whether the crystallization of filter honey after some time is a problem. This situation is sometimes misinterpreted. People think that crystallization indicates that honey is filled with additives. However, this belief is very wrong. Because honey added with sugar syrup can remain without crystallization for a really long time. Pure and natural honey, depending on the type of flowers from which honey is obtained, can crystallize fast, especially in winter and if kept in cold.

This is definitely a natural phenomenon and it is not a problem preventing the consumption of honey. Honey can be consumed in its crystallized form or it can be dissolved and consumed in this way by heating it in a container filled with hot water of 40 – 45 ° C. Crystallization in honey is by no means an indication of additives in honey. There is no health problem in consuming crystallized honey. The crystallization of honey is a natural phenomenon that can occur depending on the vegetable source from which honey is obtained, and the storage temperature. However, most consumers think of crystallized honey as fraudulent honey due to ignorance. This mistake causes problems in the marketing of filtered honey, especially in the world. The truth is that many natural and high-quality honey can begin to crystallize very quickly, even immediately after the filtering phase.

Crystallization of Organic Honey


The crystallization of organic honey is a natural phenomenon. This crystallization can be defined as the crystallization of glucose molecules after the organic honey becomes saturated in terms of glucose content. Crystallization is sometimes misunderstood as something negative. The situation is not like that. Because honey added with sugar syrup does not crystallize. However, pure, natural, organic honey can crystallize in a short period of time, especially in the winter months and if it is stored under a temperature of 14 degrees.



The crystallization of organic honey is not an obstacle to honey consumption. Organic honey is also known to be consumed in its crystallized form. The bain-marie method, that is, in a container filled with water at a temperature not exceeding about 45 degrees, can be used to dissolve crystallized honey by heating it with no direct contact with water and it can be consumed after. However, the continuous heating process should not be applied, this process should be done on honey two or three times at most.

Organic honey, as the name suggests, is a completely natural product. Its features may vary according to the season, the region where the honey is obtained, the type of the bee and the flowers. Because of its fluidity, flavor, aroma, and consistency will vary, it is not possible to talk about standard honey, all of which have the same properties. Disrupting the structure of organic honey with the addition of sugar and various processes endangers human health. The consistency and fluidity of the honey vary according to the type of the bee working in the hive, the flowers from which the honey is obtained, and the conditions of the region where the honey is produced.

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Savaş Ateş

I like eating honey a lot. We have a huge interest in bees and how they make honey. I have visited honey farms. I have talked to a lot of honey sellers. I read a lot of books about them. I want to share my knowledge with you.

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