There are many myths surrounding the reasons for the crystallisation of honey, so let's take a few moments to dispel them!
What is Crystallisation?
Crystallisation is a natural process and is sometimes referred to as 'granulation'. It occurs when honey turns from a liquid into a more semi-solid, granulated state.
Is crystallisation indicative of a poor quality honey?
NO! On the contrary, crystallisation indicates a pure, unadulterated honey.
Does Crystallisation mean that the honey has 'gone off'?
NO! One of the most amazing facts about honey is that it lasts for ever! It was found in Egyptian tombs, some 3000 years old and was still found to be edible!
Why does crystallisation occur?
All honey contains two types of sugars: glucose and fructose. Crystallisation occurs at various rates dependent on the ratio between these two sugars; the lower the fructose to glucose ratio means that the honey will crystallise more quickly, sometimes within days or weeks of harvesting. The higher the fructose to glucose ratio the longer the honey will take to crystallise, notably in the case of Acacia honey which has a high fructose ratio and takes up to 2 years before crystallisation takes place.
Why do different honeys have different fructose to glucose ratios?
The ratio between the two sugars will be dependent on the source of nectar that the bees have collected. Different nectar sources contain different elements of the two sugars. So it is basically determined by the variety of plants the bees have been foraging from.
Can crystallised honey be returned to its original state?
Absolutely! Gently heat the honey, ideally by placing the opened jar in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes. NEVER put honey in the microwave, ever, as this will kill all the goodness in the honey and reduce it to merely a sweet syrup.
Does it help to keep honey in the fridge?
NO! this is not necessary and will accelerate the crystallisation process. Keep honey at room temperature.