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Why Real Honey Crystallises and Why Is It Good?

Why Real Honey Crystallises and Why Is It Good?

  • Team Kvell

Honey is a highly concentrated solution of sugar. It contains more than 70% sugar and less than 20% water. This indicates that the water in the honey contains more sugar than it should naturally contain. The excess of sugar makes honey unstable. It is only normal for honey to crystallise as it is an over-saturated sugar solution.

As glucose crystallises, it separates from water and forms tiny crystals. If the crystallisation progresses and more glucose crystallises, the crystals scatter in the honey. The solution switches to a solid saturated form, and at the end of the day the honey becomes dense or crystallised.

Some honeys crystallise evenly; some may be partly crystallised and form two layers, with a crystallised layer at the bottom of the container and a solvent at the centre. Honeys also differ in the size of the crystals that are formed. Some of them form fine crystals and others big, gritty ones. The quicker the honey crystallises, the better the texture would be. Crystallised honey appears to set a lighter/paler colour than liquid. This is due to the fact that glucose sugar appears to separate in the form of dehydrating crystals and that the glucose crystals are naturally pure white. Dark honeys maintain a brownish colour.

How fast will honey crystallise?

Similar forms of honey crystallise at different speeds. Any honey crystallises within a few weeks of comb extraction, while others remain liquid for months or years. The following variables affect the rate of crystallisation:

(i) the origins of nectar gathered by bees (sugar content of honey),

(ii) the processes by which honey is extracted (processed) and

(iii) the temperature to be preserved.

The higher the glucose and the lower the honey content of the water, the easier the crystallisation.  Honey with less glucose compared to water, on the other hand, is a less saturated glucose solution and sluggish to crystallise. Honey with an increased water content also crystallises unevenly (not as a homogeneous mass) and splits into crystallised and liquid pieces.

So your crystallised honey is a good thing. It means that the honey is preservative free, still chock full of nutrients that weren't heated away, and is natural as nature intended it to be!