Has this ever happened to you?
You reach for your honey jar and notice that there are “things” forming in it! It is thick and cloudy and your honey isn’t as fluid as it once was. What happened to your honey? Your honey has crystallized. But you may be asking, “Why does honey crystallize?” and, “Is it still safe to eat or should you throw it out?”
Before I answer this, consider this fact first – honey has been found stored in caves for over a 1000 years and still good to eat. In fact, honey doesn’t go bad even though it has not been refrigerated. It is the only single food I can think of that doesn’t need refrigeration and has no expiration date! But, the older the honey gets the weaker the flavor depending on the kind of honey it is. It may even darken a bit, but it still can be eaten. Here’s why.
Honey is a sugar solution that kills bacteria and fungi by drawing water from their cells. So these cells are pretty much killed by dehydration. So honey’s environment is very inhospitable to bacterial growth, and that’s why it can last for a very long time. That’s one of the amazing benefits of honey.
So what causes honey to crystallize or thicken and turn cloudy? Honey granulates or crystallizes because the natural sugars have separated.
These crystals cause your honey to have texture or grittiness. Some people don’t mind this texture, while others don’t like it too much. I personally love crystallized honey. Either way, it will still taste the same. So, if honey crystallizes, is it still good to eat? The answer is yes, definitely!
Some types of honey have a tendency to granulate more than others, but if you’re concerned about it, simply heat your honey to reliquify it.
Just put your jar in a pan of warm water to reliquify it again. Or, you can be a bit creative and put your honey in a warm location, such as on your porch deck if your weather is warm.
Just a word of caution here. Be careful not to heat your water above 100 – 150 degrees F. Higher temperatures will certainly affect the taste and also the excellent qualities of the honey, especially the antibacterial properties.
Sometimes honey is granulated on purpose so that whipped, or spun, honey can be produced. Talk about a treat! I simply love whipped honey – it is soooo good. It has a creamy texture and, in my opinion, tastes like whipped cream, or honey mixed with butter. It is easier to spread than regular liquid honey – a plus if you want to spread your honey on warm toast or crusty, homemade muffins. Most of the honey from Canada is sold as spun honey.
The optimum temperature for honey to crystallize is between 55 and 57 degrees F. If you store your honey below or above this range, it will help to prevent granulation. If you want to avoid having your honey turn to crystals, you can store it in the freezer as temperatures below 32 degrees prevent granulation from occurring. Also, pre-frozen honey tends to not granulate, even if left to sit in your cupboard at normal temperatures.
So, now you can explain why honey crystallizes. And if honey crystallizes, is it still good to eat? Yes, crystallized honey is not inferior honey – the texture is just different. You can simply heat granulated honey to get it liquid again (but not too much heat); or, if you prefer, you can eat it just like it is. The choice is yours! 🙂