Why the Crystallization of Honey is your Friend

crystallize

For some reason, there is a perception that honey that crystallizes has “gone bad” or that it is a sign of contamination. No! It’s actually a sign of high quality honey. Don’t throw your crystallized honey out, unless you like to waste delicious food. Crystallization is honey’s natural way of preserving itself.

Despite its liquid appearance, honey has a low moisture content that deters bacteria and yeast. If you were to look at a bowl of white sugar, you could see thousands of small crystals. When you look at cloudy or thick honey, you can also see sugar crystals. The only difference is that the honey crystals clump together.

All honey will eventually crystallize. Honey is a super-saturated solution of two sugars: glucose and fructose. Since it’s super-saturated, it’s a natural chemical process that some of the sugars eventually come out of solution.  Honey will even crystallize when it’s still in the comb. There are many factors that contribute to crystallization including the type of flower or plant the bees gathered the pollen from to make the honey. Temperature also plays a part. It’s best to store your honey around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder temperatures will increase the rate of crystallization while warmer temperatures will degrade the honey.

If your honey has crystallized, you can make it smooth and golden once again.

  1. Simply heat a pan of water with low heat.
  2. Remove the pan from the stove and place your honey jar inside. Be sure to take the lid off your jar before placing it in the warm water.
  3. Now, all you have to do is let the honey sit until it softens.
  4. Once the honey has come to a liquid state, put the lid back on and shake the jar. You may need to use an oven mitt or wrap the jar in a towel.
  5. It’s just as important to cool your honey slowly as it is to heat it slowly. You’ll want to place the honey back in the warm water, make sure there is enough water to reach the top of the honey line in the jar.
  6. Let the water and the honey cool together. If you can touch the water and it’s the same temperature as the room then your honey is ready.

Or you could leave it crystallized… Crystallized honey is delicious in tea, on yogurt, on a toasted bagel, and on oatmeal. It’s a fabulous spread glaze for cooking chicken or stir-fry.

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. Because Americans tend to be a bit paranoid about cosmetic defects in food, a lot of honey is now filtered to remove pollen.  This does creates a more shelf-stable honey, and it is clearer and brighter in color. Basically, it’s cosmetic surgery to make your honey pretty.The problem with pollen-less honey is you don’t know where it came from, or what kind of plants the bees were feeding on.  Filtering has a shady side effect: it makes it easier for honey to be processed and shipped longer distances (like from China) and means that many different kinds of honey can be blended together without any knowledge to the consumer.

How can you get the best honey? Buy local. And by local, I mean look for honey that is not part of a chain store brand, but something from a beekeeper that is in your state, with a traceable address and name.
A word of caution:
You may be tempted to heat the honey faster or simply put it in the microwave, but high temperatures (over 118 degrees) can remove the vitamins and nutrients naturally found in honey.  Also, heating and cooling too quickly can increase the crystallization process.
http://www.whitelakefarms.com/how-to-save-crystallized-honey.htm