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Name: Carol
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: NY
Country: N/A
Date: February 2007


How fast will honey crystallize, are there different kinds and different speeds for the crystallization process?

Carol -

All honey will naturally crystallize. The speed of the crystallization will depend on the nectar source, the temperature, and the availability of "seed" crystals - the starting point for the growth of a crystal. After honey is crystallized it can be reliquified by warning it... but do it gently so as not to destroy the enzymes that make it healthful or chase off the volatiles that make it smell and taste good.

Some people mistakenly think that crystallized honey has "gone bad." Wrong. In fact if honey crystallizes it is a good sign. To discourage crystallization some big companies heat it to 180 degrees and pass it through a very fine filter. This changes the nature of the honey and removes the seed crystals. It will not crystallize... at least not for a long time. This also destroys the enzymes and removes the volatiles and pollen particles that enhance the taste and smell. However, it is still sweet. Most people that only want sweet will use white granulated sugar. It is sweet and costs less.

The nectar source will also affect the speed at which honey crystallizes. I suspect that in your area you will find that fall sources of nectar will crystallize quicker than spring sources.

Temperature has a big effect. The bees keep honey from crystallizing by keeping it warm. The brood in the hive is kept about 93 degrees and they honey stays liquid at that temperature. (It will reliquify at only slightly above that temperature.) Honey can also be frozen to stop crystallization. (Sounds funny, but true.) Honey crystallized best at 40 to 45 degrees. That is close to the temperature in your refrigerator. Don't store your honey there unless you want to encourage crystallization.

American consumers think honey should be liquid. In most other parts of the world honey is sold in the crystallized form. It is often called "creamed" honey. Generally honey that is creamed is treated to grow fine granules making it smooth to the tongue. The honey that granulates in your refrigerator will tend to form larger granules and feel chunky. It is still just a healthful, but feels different.

Honey was the main source of sweetness until we learned to process sugar from sugar cane and beets. Yet, honey is a different sugar. It is largely fructose instead of the sucrose present in cane and beet sugar. By its nature, it is more easily digested, but is also easier to keep in a liquid state. Well treated honey (not the chain store variety) also contains minutes amounts of pollen and propolis. These healthful ingredients are not present in processed sugar.

The honey bee has been on the earth for millions of years longer than man. They must be eating right!

Larry Krengel

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