Why Does Honey Crystallize? Here's What You Can Do to Stop It from Happening
From a slice of toast and a cup of tea to marbled ham and all kinds of baked goods, so many foods taste better with honey. It's sweet, sticky, and wonderfully versatile…unless it's turned into a crystallized mess, that is. Sound familiar? Ahead, learn how to bring back crystallized honey, plus how to prevent it in the future.
Why Does Honey Crystallize?
First, a quick science lesson. Honey is made of two ingredients: sugar and water. The sugar is dissolved in the water, but there's more sugar than the water can hold. Put another way, there's not enough water to keep the sugar dissolved forever. So, the two ingredients will eventually separate. This results in the formation of crystals, according to Traci Weintraub, chef and founder of Gracefully Fed, a Los Angeles-based meal delivery service. These crystals can range in size and texture, depending on the type of honey. It also depends on the sugar-to-water ratio of the product. In general, honeys with more sugar will crystallize quicker because it's more difficult for the water to keep holding it. Likewise, "raw honey crystallizes faster because it contains trace amounts of pollen or beeswax," which have been filtered out from processed honey," explains Weintraub.
It's worth noting that it's common (and normal) for honey to crystallize. In fact, according to Weintraub, any raw honey that sits in your cupboard for some time will likely crystallize. Also, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't mean that the honey is adulterated or poor quality. It's actually a good sign, says Weintraub, as it means your honey is more raw and less processed—since, again, such honey has pollen or beeswax, which increases the rate of crystallization.
How to Fix Crystallized Honey
Crystallized honey is safe to eat. However, if you're not a fan of the texture and look, it's possible to remove the crystals. The simplest method calls for warm water and a bowl. "Simply add your jar of honey to the bowl, then fill [it] with warm water from the tap until it reaches about half the height of the jar," explains Weintraub. Carefully open the jar and stir the honey with a spoon until it reaches your desired consistency. This can take about 45 minutes, depending on the degree of crystallization, but it will produce the smoothest and most consistent texture, says Weintraub. What's more, after the honey has de-crystallized, its texture should be just like its original consistency. The key is to take your time and stir slowly to avoid accidentally getting water in the jar, shares Weintraub. From there, you can use the sweetener as your normally would in your favorite honey recipes.
How to Stop Honey from Crystallizing
The best way to keep honey from crystallizing is to store it at room temperature, notes Weintraub. The most ideal storage place is in a dark cupboard away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing it in the refrigerator, as cooler temperatures will make honey crystallize faster. Finally, keep in mind that all honey will eventually crystallize, as it's a natural side effect of its chemical makeup. To avoid it altogether, enjoy the honey within a few months of buying it, says Weintraub.