Do you find it annoying when your beautiful, liquid, golden honey turns thick and white and becomes difficult to pour from the bottle? I do. I know many, like my grandfather, prefer their honey to be the consistency of peanut butter and that crystallization is a natural process in which the flavor and other healthful properties do not change. However, like most of my family and honey customers, I still prefer my honey easy flowing, clear and golden.
So how do you restore your crystallized honey to its liquid state without wrecking it? By understanding the temperature that will cause the taste and healthful properties of honey to change for the worst, you can safely and confidently dissolve the crystals and once more enjoy pouring your honey instead of spreading it with a knife. You can even help your honey avoid or delay crystallization by storing it properly. Let me show you how.
Crystallization occurs in three to eight months after harvest given available nectar sources in our area and is not a sign of spoilage nor does it change the taste or healthful properties of honey. It simply changes the texture and color. We are entirely sold out of our 2013 honey that was harvested in late summer, but I am already starting to see some crystallization in my own private stock. Honey that does not crystallize in time is NOT normal unless it is tupelo, acacia, sage or black locust honey and we don’t have any of these blossoms where my bees forage for nectar.
So, for those who prefer their honey in the original golden, liquid state, you can certainly have it by following the suggestions below:
- First, don’t wait until it turns completely white (like the jar on the left shown above) if you want to dissolve the crystals. Don’t be discouraged if you happen to find a stored jar that looks like this. You can certainly dissolve it if it but it just takes longer.
- Second, don’t overheat the honey during the melting process. Shoot for a melting temperature that does not exceed 104-105 degF. Depending on how large the jar is this can take hours but the pay-off is worth it. If you can keep the honey between 96 and 104 degF, you will protect the taste that Whitfield’s Simply Raw Honey is known for. Just as important, you will NOT denature the healthful enzymes (proteins that serve as a catalyst in certain reactions) that makes our raw honey so special. The enzymes most identified in honey are invertase, diastase, glucose oxidase, catalase and acid phosphatase. J. W. White, JR. AND Landis W. Doner write that the “changes that enzymes bring about throughout nature are essential to life.” White and Doner also report that heat can deteriorate honey’s antibacterial properties to an even greater extent. Lastly, worse than over heating is using a microwave to liquefy honey. What a microwave does to your food is well documented. If you still have one in your house, please don’t use it on your honey!
- Help your honey avoid crystallization for as long as possible by either eating the honey before it crystallizes or storing it properly. Crystallization is accelerated between 52 and 64 degF. Never store in the refrigerator unless you plan to freeze it and consume it soon after thawing it. The best temperature to store your honey is between 70 and 80 degF.
So in summary, know you can wreck your honey by overheating it. When dissolving the crystals in Whitfield’s Simply Raw Honey, keep the temperature below 104-105 degF and don’t wait until it becomes a white crystallized block of honey unless you want it that way. Eating it before crystallization also works :)! Never microwave honey and store your honey between 70 and 80 degF to extend the time the honey stays in liquid form.
To follow are some reference links that dig deeper into this topic. Hope this helps you enjoy your honey till we harvest again in 2014.
BEEKEEPING IN THE UNITED STATES AGRICULTURE HANDBOOK NUMBER 335 Revised October 1980 Pages 82 – 91 http://www.beesource.com/resources/usda/honey-composition-and-properties/
Crystallization of Honey, Khalil Hamdan Apeldoorn, the Netherlands http://www.montcobeekeepers.org/Documents/Honey_Crystallization.pdf