Does Real Honey Crystallize? Why This Happens and How to Fix It

Isn’t real honey just the bees knees? The sticky, sweet condiment is perfect to pair with fresh bread or stir into hot tea. This tasty treat is a delicious addition to any breakfast or dinner. However, real honey does crystallize. Discovering tiny white specks or noticing a distinct change in consistency of your honey can be worrisome.

When real honey crystallizes it often lightens in color. The consistency change starts at the bottom and crawls towards the top. The honey may feel hard or taste gritty.

Today we’ll discuss what is happening with your honey. We’ll explain why it’s still good to eat, as well as how to slow down or stop the process of crystallization should you wish.

Why Does Real Honey Crystallize?

The simple reason why honey crystallizes is that honey is loaded with natural sugars. Glucose and fructose are the main ingredients in honey.

Simply put, there is so much sugar in honey that it makes the mixture unstable. It is impossible for the immense amount of sugar in honey to completely dissolve. Therefore, honey separates easily and this is what creates the crystals. Crystallization is a natural process way for honey to preserve its nutrients. It also improves the quality of the honey and enriches the flavor. Crystallization is good!

How Fast Does Real Honey Crystallize?

Real honey tends to crystallize faster than others. The high concentrations of natural sweeteners like glucose and fructose encourage the process of crystallization. Real honey avoids artificial additives and embraces the natural chemistry of honey. These two qualities induce crystallizing. 

Real honey typically still contains some solids. Things like pollen act as a base for crystals to form. This can also cause crystallization to occur more quickly.

If your honey starts crystallizing quite quickly, it is a good sign. It means that the honey is truly natural and of great quality. There are ways to slow the process, which we will discuss. However we should point out that there is no need to stop crystallization from occurring. 

How Does Temperature Affect Crystallization?

Temperature affects crystallization by potentially reducing the speed of the process. The temperature at which you store honey plays a huge role in the speed and occurence of crystallization. To prevent crystallization, cooler temperatures are recommended. Warmer temperatures degrade real honey, destroying natural preservatives and cheapening the flavor.

Generally the recommended temperature range to store honey is between fifty and seventy degrees fahrenheit. This range is room temperature, so storing your honey in a cabinet or pantry will work. This temperature range also helps to preserve the natural ingredients of real honey. However, storing honey at this temperature does encourage crystals to form.

If you do want to slow the crystallization process, storing at temperatures lower than fifty degrees fahrenheit is recommended. Lower temperatures like this greatly reduce the formation of crystals, without compromising the honey’s quality. As well as this, cooler temperatures may help to thicken the consistency of the honey. To keep your honey below 50°F, the fridge is the best place to store it.

When honey is stored in temperatures higher than seventy degrees the process of crystallization is drastically slowed. However we strongly advise against this at this level your honey will begin to degrade. It will lose some of its natural flavor and scent. Once the temperature reaches eighty-one degrees, the honey is at risk of spoiling. Fermentation is also likely at this high of a temperature.

Is Honey Crystallizing a Bad Thing?

We’ve mentioned it a few times but it’s worth saying again: real honey crystallizing is never a bad thing! The appearance may look ‘off’, but flavor and quality is actually improved.

Crystallized honey often tastes better too! The sweet flavor of honey is enriched and the scent is often more aromatic. Crystalilized honey is also easier to spread. The consistency thickens, which reduces drippage and decreases the possibility of a mess.

In fact, crystallized honey tastes so good that you can actually buy it in crystallized form. Creamed honey is formed by controlling the crystallization process. The process is controlled to create tiny crystals which allow a smooth consistency. The result is deliciously sweet, easy to spread creamed honey.

What Can You Do With Crystallized Honey?

The best thing to do with crystallized honey is to eat it. It still tastes amazing! The honey retains its sweet, rich flavor. You can still easily spread it on bread. Crystallized honey will mix nicely into tea or oatmeal. It can also be a substitute for sugar in baking.

Crystallized honey can also be used to make personal care products. This is because it helps to retain moisture. This makes it perfect for use in homemade skincare products. Lip balm and face masks are just two of many potential uses for honey in personal care.

How Do You Stop Honey From Crystallizing?

Though we think it’s great, we know that crystallized honey isn’t for everyone. It can have a crunchy texture and the appearance may be slightly off-putting. The good news if you don’t like crystallized honey is that there a few ways to stop the process.

At this stage it’s worth pointing out that it’s fairly difficult to completely ‘stop’ the process of crystallization. It’s more likely that the process of crystallization will be slowed, rather than stopped. Crystallizing honey is natural, so stopping it is basically defying nature.

The first thing for you to consider is buying an alternative. This is the easiest and least time consuming option. There are plenty of brands that make their honey with additives, or excessive filtering. These additional ingredients make it harder for the honey to crystallize. You can also buy honey-flavored substances, most of which contain little to no real honey and therefore do not crystalize. Whilst these options are completely valid, our main problem with them is that you miss out on the joys of real honey!

To slow the crystallization of real honey, one important step you can take is to monitor storage. An airtight container can do wonders for retaining the original consistency of honey. The use of an airtight container can significantly slow the crystallization process. As mentioned previously, it is also important to store the container in cool temperatures (below 50°F).

How Do You Fix Crystalized Honey?

The good news is that crystalized honey can be fixed. The main way to achieve this is by making use of heat.

The first technique is to simply heat the honey on the stove. Place the honey is into a glass container, making sure to remove any lid from the container. Next, place the container in a pot of water. Heat the pot on a stove over a medium heat. As the water warms, stir the honey occasionally. Continue to stir the honey every couple of minutes until the consistency is smooth. 

Another great way to decrystallize honey is to leave it in a warm area. On a warm summer day, you could place the honey in a windowsill and allow it to sit in the sun. The warmth can help eliminate crystals. As we discussed earlier, be sure not to expose the honey to high termperatures for too long as this can degrade the flavor.

The key to fixing crystalized honey is to apply constant heat. You should avoid using a microwave as they do not apply constant heat and heat very quickly. This will ruin your honey.

Is There a Honey That Won’t Crystalize?

Real honey will crystallize quickly, but the rate of crystallization varies between different types of honey. There are a few kinds that crystallize very slowly. Acacia, tupelo, and sage are a few of these slowly crystallizing honeys.

Some brands of honey filter and introduce additives to the mixture. The process used to mix the honey can affect the speed at which the honey will crystalize. The container used to hold the honey will also play a role. Some brands use plastic bottles, while others use glass. As a rule, honey in plastic containers will crystallize more slowly.