Crystallized honey is an occupational hazard of any beekeeper. I say this a little tongue in cheek: getting stung is definitely not a good thing! Or losing your hives from a cold winter or bout of mites…
My first big honey purchase from another beekeeper was for 25 gallons of goldenrod honey. I was so excited to meet a beekeeper on the Eastern Shore of Delaware that was willing to work with and sell to another beekeeper. Connecting with other beekeepers was no easy task.
I picked up the buckets and, after bringing them home, bottled hundreds of jars of honey. I was not at all aware that goldenrod honey is the most likely to crystallize. In almost no time at all, all of the jars had solidified.
My gut reaction was to use the crystallized goldenrod honey on my heels, elbows, knees– and to give myself a facial. My skin never looked better, and even though it was some sticky mess. From that point forward, when our honey turned to crystal, we changed the label and sold it at our Original Body Scrub.
Lesson 1: Raw Honey Crystallizes.
A beekeeper friend was recently asked to take a full return of crystallized honey from one of his accounts. I felt terrible for him, knowing how much work goes into extracting and bottling pure, raw honey by hand. Honey doesn’t go bad, it just may not look “perfect” once it starts to solidify.
The good news is: when honey crystallizes, it is a sign that the honey is raw and unpasteurized, and full of pollen. Mostly all real, raw honey crystallizes. That’s the way of nature.
Lesson 2: Why does honey crystallize?
Real, raw hоnеу from the hive іѕ a solution made up of monosaccharides, glucose and fructose and water. The water level should always be lower than 20% and ideally at 18%.
This low concentration of water in the solution means that honey is super-saturated with sugars: there are more sugar molecules than the water should be able to dissolve. Because the solution is super-saturated, there is a natural chemical reaction that takes place over time where the sugars separate and return to their original crystalline state.
The amount of glucose or fructose prevalent in the nectar of the flowers that the bees pollinated helps to determine how fast it crystalizes. Honey higher in glucose crystallizes very fast. Honey that is high in fructose will crystalize much slower, because the solution is more stable.
Another factor that impacts crystallized honey is temperature. If you put honey in the refrigerator it will crystalize overnight, regardless of how much fructose or glucose it contains. For this reason, don’t refrigerate your honey. Keep it in the dark, like in a pantry or cabinet.
Particulates like beeswax bits and pollen that naturally occur in raw and unfiltered honey work like a magnet to the crystallization process. The more particulates, the more opportunities for crystallization. If you prefer crystalized honey, but don’t have the patience to let your new jar solidify, you can add a spoonful of crystals to the liquid honey to kick over the process.
Lesson 3: What to do with raw crystallized honey?
Use it in your beauty routine. Have a blemish? Dab a little honey on it and help it along in the healing process.
Gently apply crystallized honey all over your face and rest a few minutes in a nice warm tub. Gently rinse off with a wash cloth. Honey is a humectant, which means it pulls in water-this helps with balancing out dry, irritated skin. At our Honey House we use it as a mixer in our masks. Our team and our customers love it. It’s a terrific exfoliant, a wonderful moisturizer, and it’s nature’s cleanser.
Put it in your tea or coffee, it melts to its original form in no time, with just a quick stir. Or, use it in cooking by baking with honey. Use it in your oatmeal as you are heating it up, or spread it over hot toast or muffins.
Eat it right off the spoon with chunky peanut butter.
If honey has crystallized to the point where it’s difficult to remove from the jar, simply place it in a pan of hot water and let it re-liquify. Just don’t microwave or boil your honey (you’ll cook it and ruin the batch that way).
Embrace your crystallized honey. It’s the result of a process that happens in nature.
How Do I Liquify Crystallized Honey?
Reconstituting crystallized honey is very simple:
- Boil enough water in a small pan to cover about half of your crystallized honey jar
- Remove the pan from heat
- Remove the lid on the jar of crystallized honey
- Place open jar of crystallized honey into the boiled (hot) water and allow to sit
- Gently stir honey taking special care not to get water into the jar
Honey does not go “bad” as many foods do; it remains wholesome after decades.
Eva Crane, “A Book of Honey”