Have you ever discovered your jar of honey looking a little ‘lumpy’, maybe even with little crystals sitting on top? If so, don’t panic - your honey hasn’t gone bad, in fact it’s the opposite. What you have found is crystalised honey, also known as ‘candy’, and it’s a totally natural process that happens to naturally pure, raw honey.
Unfortunately there is a common misconception that crystalised honey has ‘gone bad’ or that it is somehow contaminated. But this isnottrue. Crystallisation happens naturally over time to high-quality, raw honey and actually helps preserve the honey’s nutrients and quality. You may even find that your crystalised honey is easier to spread and richer in flavour.
Nature is in a constant state of change. The seasons come and go, leaves fall, and flowers bloom. This cycle is integral to the health and balance of the natural world - and believe it or not, the naturally raw honey in your cupboard follows this same pattern.
Honey crystals are made from the combination of sugars and pollen found in raw honey which is why they are sometimes called ‘candy’, for their sweetness. These crystals form when honey is kept at cold temperatures - just like ice on a lake, sugars will clump together and rise to the top. This is why you are more likely to spot crystalised honey during the cold winter months.
All honey which is produced from the nectar of flowers will contain the two naturally occurring sugars; glucose and fructose. These sugars form the basis of what becomes honey in a beehive, and what will also go on to crystalise when the temperature drops. Interestingly, the nectar of different flower species all contain different ratios of glucose and fructose. So, which flowers a bee visits will affect the amount and speed at which it’s honey crystalises.
The second contributor to the formation of honey crystals is pollen. As bees travel from flower to flower, they pick up and carry with them the pollen of each visited flower. Such pollen, although not necessary in the production of honey, inevitably ends up back at the hive and a part of the honey mixture. The sugars described above can use available pollen as an anchor of sorts - a starting point from which a crystal can grow. Pollen is of course harmless, and contributes to the unique flavours different varieties of honey poses. More importantly, the presence of pollen is another indication that the honey has been naturally processed, and that the important enzymes have not been destroyed or removed.
Remember, finding crystals in your honey is a great thing. In addition to being a nutritious and sweet treat, the crystals prove that your honey is high quality and has been naturally processed without any of the damaging commercial heat treatment. As discussed in our previous blog:Why Raw Honey Makes All The Difference, all B Brothers Honey products are made with naturally sourced raw honey, cold extracted to preserve the nutritious enzymes that support wellbeing. Unlike other commercial brands which pasteurize their honey at high temperatures, making the product clear and smooth but destroying its natural enzymes - our honey is kept at low temperatures throughout the bottling process. Using this traditional method of extracting our honey, B Brothers Honey products are more likely to crystalise than others, a result we are very proud of.
If you are looking for a ‘smoother’ honey experience, there’s no cause for concern. Firstly, depending on temperature and the particular variety of honey, you may not even notice the crystalisation process. Some honey’s crystallise slowly and with such tiny crystals that most people never notice. Nonetheless, if you have found crystals in your honey and want them gone, there’s an easy solution - simply warm it up.
To remove your honey’s crystals follow these steps:
1. Add your honey to a glass jar / container (not plastic).
2. Fill a saucepan with water that comes to ½ to ⅔ the height of the jar.
3. Place the jar in the saucepan without lids and bring the water to a hot but not boiling temperature.
4. Gently stir the honey regularly to help break up the crystals. Be careful not to splash water into the honey.
5. Carefully remove jar from saucepan when the honey is once again smooth.
Remember, heating your honey to too high a temperature will damage the natural enzymes it contains. For this reason it is recommended to not warm your honey in the microwave.
How often do you consider how the honey in stores is made? You might think that it’s a simple process - Bees go off to collect nectar, they bring it home, and start making delicious honey for a beekeeper to carefully collect, package, and sell to you... Unfortunately this isn’t the full story.