Crystallization of Raw Honey
Crystallization - a Natural Progression
Have you ever noticed your honey looking a little lumpy or firm? Don’t throw it out! Your honey is not bad; it’s just following a natural progression. It’s crystallized honey, and it’s the same product, just a new version! This transformation demonstrates that your honey is raw!
Quality is still the same
When honey crystallizes, it is still as nutritious and sweet as ever! In fact, the crystals prove that your honey is high quality and hasn’t been processed. It means that nutritious pollen hasn’t been filtered out and important enzymes haven’t been damaged by pasteurization. Just Iowa Honey is more likely to crystallize, because we do not pasteurize our honey! Temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit can initiate the crystallization of honey, so how you store your honey is important. During those cold winter months, the honey in your cabinet might begin to crystallize because of the lower temperatures.
But for those folks who like to keep honey liquid, you can fill a bowl with warm water and let your bottle rest until the crystals dissipate. But don’t heat it over 110 degrees on your stove or in your microwave, because you will destroy the beneficial properties of your honey.
Our philosophy: Don’t mess with Mother Nature. The bees worked hard on a perfect product; just use the honey in its natural state.
The Crystallization Culprits
Glucose and fructose; elements that play a key role in crystallization. Honey contains more than 70% sugars and less than 20% water and is naturally an unstable super-saturated sugar solution. When bees fly from flower to flower, they’re collecting nectar. That nectar is made up of two sugars: glucose and fructose. After collection, the bees will drop off the nectar at their hive where it is converted into honey. Each flower nectar has different ratios of glucose and fructose, and the timing of the crystallization of each varietal will reflect those different ratios. And each year is different, all dependent on mother nature, and the flower species available for the bees. The amount of rainfall we receive each year is a determining factor, as well; some plants are more drought tolerant than others.
The other element is pollen. Bees collect both nectar and pollen, and you want your honey to have pollen suspended in the liquid. Pollen is healthy - pollen is touted for reducing inflammation, providing necessary antioxidants, and strengthening the immune system. Pollen also ensures that your honey hasn’t been processed (ultra-filtered). However, with pollen suspended in honey, the little particles provide a base for crystallization to begin.
Some honeys crystallize uniformly while others crystallize partially at the bottom of the jar and form a layer of liquid (fructose) on top. Also, the size of the crystals formed varies from honey to honey; some varietals crystallize rapidly to form fine crystals while others, slowly to form large ones. (This is the reason why some honey varietals crystallize to form a coarse sugary texture, and some varietals crystallize to form a smooth creamy consistency.) The formation of crystals has no bearing on the quality of honey or its taste.
Whether you like to spread your honey crystals over toast or a muffin, use the honey in cooking or baking, or put your honey into your coffee or tea, know that your crystallized honey is undergoing a natural process. When it comes to crystallization, let Mother Nature do her thing, and embrace the changes!
Here is a good article that I found online - might give you additional perspective: Why Does Honey Crystallize?