Remember when you forgot a honey jar in the pantry and came back to it having little crystals like sugar in it? Then you threw the whole jar away because of the old saying: “If your honey crystallizes, it is not pure honey.” That’s entirely false! Raw, unaltered honey will crystallize sooner or later. All raw honey will and that’s a good thing.

What does crystallization mean? Why does it happen?

Let’s talk about chemistry! Don’t worry, it’s an easy formula. Honey contains glucose and fructose in high doses. Glucose is sugar you get from the food you eat and is a source of energy. Fructose or “fruit sugar” is, as the nickname suggests, a sugar found in fruits, a few vegetables, and in honey  Since honey is super-saturated, a chemical reaction is bound to happen. This leads to some of the sugar detaching themselves. That’s crystallization. We can describe it as a group of sugar seeking some peace and quiet away from the rest of the group. Honey will crystallize in the jar and the honeycomb. It is a natural process and an indicator of untampered honey. Rest assured that crystallization does not affect the taste. It affects only the color, and texture.

Why does some honey crystallize faster than others?

Sometimes, you buy yourself a jar of honey that lasts months without any sign of crystals, while another crystallizes in a short amount of time. Here’s the answer to your riddle: the source the bees foraged to make that honey. The higher the level of natural sugars, the faster the honey will crystallize. This is why honeydews from trees crystallize way slower as their level of natural sugars is lower than flower-based honey. For example, lavender or clover honey crystallize faster than oak honey because they have higher levels of glucose. If the levels of fructose are high, then the honey will take longer to crystallize. You should know that most honey bought from supermarkets is not raw honey. Most of the time, it has been filtered, blended, and pasteurized to dissolve the natural sugar crystals. Some companies sell adulterated honey which means they make it runny and more liquid on purpose to meet consumer perceptions. These processes damage the original honey, and you end up with a product way inferior to raw honey.

What might speed up the crystallization other than sugar levels?

You should be aware that temperature levels affect the speed of crystallization. Keeping your honey somewhere with a temperature lower than 25ºC, you will notice crystals soon after your purchase. You can stock it in refrigerator for example, but don’t be afraid, it will not spoil. Honey will become more solid in that case. Ideally, you should stock your honey in temperatures around 25ºC because it is best able to resist crystallization in these degrees. Beware that 40ºC and more damages the honey.

What does honey crystallization look like?

There is no one answer to this question. Honey crystallizes in different ways. Sometimes you get tiny crystals, other times you get bigger, gritty crystals. If your honey is dark, you get brownish crystals. If your honey is light, you get almost white crystals. Sometimes it’s from the bottom to the top, sometimes it gets divided into a crystallized layer and one that’s still liquid.

Is crystallized honey safe to eat?

It’s perfectly safe to eat crystallized raw honey. Some companies are jumping on the trend wave and selling “white honey” which is a type of honey light in color and crystallized in a controlled environment. In fact, some recipes taste better with crystallized raw honey instead of raw honey in mint condition. Crystallized honey is easier to spread than raw honey. So spread your honey on toast, then add some fruits and enjoy! Or you can have some goat cheese and tomatoes on toast with a drizzle of crystallized honey for a sweet and salty snack. You can also substitute sugar in baking with crystallized honey. Beware that it is sweeter than sugar, so start with ¾ of a cup and adjust to taste. You can use crystallized honey in hot tea. The crystals will dissolve just like sugar in the water. Don’t hesitate to use it like you always do just because it has crystals. It still has the same flavor and the same health benefits as before.

How can I de-crystallize my honey?

We personally do not condone the de-crystallization process. We encourage you to use it like you would any other honey as mentioned above. To avoid crystallization, we would advise you to purchase flower-based raw honey in summer and tree-based raw honey in winter. However, if you insist on de-crystallizing, let us share with you our secrets to get your honey back without any damage to quality or flavor. Firstly, make sure your honey is kept in a glass jar like the ones of L’Atelier du Miel. The next steps will not work well with a plastic jar. We advise you to move them from the plastic container to a glass one. Secondly, place the jar in a bowl and heat some water to a warm but not boiling temperature. Boiling water will damage the honey and we do not want that! Now, after your water is warm, pour it into the bowl until it reaches a little higher than the level of the honey in the jar. Make sure the water does not reach the lid to prevent any leaks. Finally, keep the jar in the water and stir the honey occasionally until the crystals are gone. The amount of time will change according to the amount of crystallization. Another method would be to put your honey jar in the microwave for 30 secs on medium power. Make sure to remove the lid before you stick the jar in the microwave. Also, every 30 secs, take the jar out, stir the honey and put it back in for 30 secs until you’re satisfied with the results. Keep an eye out as not to overheat or boil the honey. Beware of plastic containers because they will wrap and shrink inside the microwave. For all of you food lovers out there, share with us your crystallized honey recipes for a special recipe feature on Instagram! We’d love to see your creations.