Why does honey crystallize?

All honey will eventually crystallize and turn into a solid. Here we explain why honey crystallizes, how to use it, and how to turn it back to liquid honey if you prefer it that way.

When honey is first harvested from frames of honeycomb, it is a golden sticky liquid. During the summer, the honey stays liquid because it is hot outside and it is kept warm by the bees in the hive. In cooler weather and over the winter, even honey in the beehive will crystallize.

Honey crystallizes because it contains more natural sugars from flowers than a liquid can hold - it is a supersaturated solution. Cooler temperatures and grains of pollen in pure, raw honey trigger the sugars to start forming crystals. At first, the honey will seem thicker than usual and perhaps a bit grainy. As the crystals spread through the liquid honey, the whole jar will become a solid. The ratios of different sugars vary from honey to honey and influences the speed that honey crystallizes and its texture. Some honeys like linden (from Basswood trees) or acacia (from Black locust trees) will crystallize very slowly while others like golden rod honey or canola honey will crystallize very quickly. Certain honey will crystallize with a very smooth crystal whereas others may have grainier or sharper crystals.

Our honey is unpasteurized, which has the benefit of keeping the natural enzymes, minerals, and pollen in the honey. The only reason that many brands found in the grocery store are pasteurized is to slow the process of crystallization so that honey can be sold in a plastic squeeze bear. This is one reason why we use glass jars - if your honey crystallizes but you prefer it as a liquid, you can gently heat it in the glass jar in a pot of water on the stove. Once it solidifies, it is still perfect for spreading on toast or stirring into tea (and many other uses).

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