The process of crystallisation is natural and actually a good thing! Honey that is pure will have a tendency to crystallise.
Some honey such as canola honey will crystallise even as early as while as it is still in the hive, while jarrah honey will be slow to crystallise or you may not notice it crystallise at all.
While it may detract from the visual appearance of the honey, the crystallisation of honey (also known as ‘candied honey’) can actually preserve the flavour and quality of your honey.
Many consumers of honey actually prefer honey in its crystallised form as it can be easier to spread on bread or toast.
Beekeepers can actually control crystallisation to produce what is known as creamed honey, which proves to be quite a popular way of enjoying honey.
The science of honey crystallisation
Why does honey crystallise? Honey contains over 70% sugars and no more than 20% water. Essentially, this means that the water in honey holds more sugar than what it should hold naturally.
This over-concentration of sugar makes the honey unstable, therefore it is only natural for honey to undergo crystallisation due to being an over-saturated sugar solution.
Within honey, the two main sugars are glucose and fructose. What actually crystallises is the glucose due to its lower solubility as opposed to fructose which will remain fluid in the solution.
As the glucose separates from the water it forms crystals. These crystals spread throughout the solution and ultimately it is the ratio of these sugars (fructose to glucose) that determine whether the honey crystallises slowly or rapidly.
Once the glucose has crystallised the honey changes to a stable saturated form and the honey becomes thick.
What to do if honey crystallises?
You can either enjoy it as it is or if you would like to restore the honey to its original condition, there are a couple of things you can do.
Firstly, if you live in a relatively warm climate you can try leaving your honey container outside for a day or so.
You’ll want to leave your honey in the shade though, so as to avoid overheating it and killing off the active properties and/or eroding the flavour of your honey.
From there just bring your honey back inside once it has been returned to its original condition, and before the ants get to it (yes, this is how you get ants!)
If that hasn’t worked, or your daytime temps don’t allow for that method, you can achieve the same result in your kitchen.
Simply stand your honey container in a container large enough to accommodate it plus ample room for water.
Using either a kettle or hot water tap, fill the larger container with warm (not hot) water until about half or more of the honey container is submerged.
Be careful not to use hot water, as the nutritional value of honey begins to diminish once honey is heated above 40C. Using warm water may take some time for the crystals to melt, but give it time or reapply more warm water until the desired result is achieved.
If your honey crystallises, don’t stress. Enjoy it as it is, or simply warm it to restore its original viscosity and appearance.