If you’re wondering about honey crystallization then start here. Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution made up of water and a mix of sugars—mostly glucose and fructose. Over time, the sugar begins to “precipitate out” of the solution, which means the water separates from the glucose, causing the sugar to take crystal form. When honey crystallizes, new crystals will continue to build upon older crystals until all of the glucose in the honey has crystallized. You can’t fully prevent raw honey from crystallizing, but you can take steps to slow down the process. And if you really don’t like the texture of crystallized honey, you can choose honey varietals that take a lot longer to crystallize.
How You Store Your Honey Affects Crystallization
All raw honey will crystallize over time, though the type of honey, method of storing, and temperature all affect how quickly it will crystallize. Crystallization happens much faster at lower temperatures. Even in a beehive, honey can begin to crystallize if the temperature drops too low. When the temperature of the honey dips below 50°F, the crystallization process will accelerate. Don’t store honey in a chilly basement or unheated mudroom. To slow crystallization naturally, store your honey at room temperature or warmer (the warmer the better). Store honey in glass jars instead of plastic. Plastic is more porous than glass. Moisture encourages crystallization and glass will do a better job of keeping moisture out of your honey (as long as the lid is on tight).
Why Does Some Honey Crystallize and Other Honey Doesn’t?
Unfiltered honey may crystallize faster than filtered honey because crystals will begin to form on pollen or beeswax or any other small particles within the unfiltered honey solution, which will encourage other crystals to form.
Some types of honey crystallize much slower than others. The type of nectar the bees used to make the honey influences how fast the honey will crystallize. Honey with a higher level of glucose than fructose will crystallize much faster. The flower nectar used to make the honey will influence the balance of glucose to fructose in the honey that the bees produce. Clover honey, lavender honey, and dandelion honey are all much higher in glucose, so they will crystallize faster than other varietals. Acacia, sage, and tupelo honey are all higher in fructose than glucose so they will crystallize much more slowly than others. If you really don’t like crystallized honey, you should consider buying one of those varieties. But over time, even tupelo honey, which is revered for how long it takes to crystallize, will eventually turn to crystals (particularly if you store it in an unheated location).
Can You Eat Crystallized Honey?
Yes! Some people prefer their honey crystallized. It is much easier to spread on toast. In fact, creamed honey does not contain cream and it is not whipped like butter. It is crystallized. Creamed honey (also called spun honey) is made by controlling the crystallization process so that the crystals that form are of a much smaller size. The small crystals give creamed honey a smooth, velvety texture.