Crystallized honey: what to do to recover it?

There are many myths surrounding crystallized honey. We tell you the reality behind crystallization and answer all your questions about it.

Last update: 20 September, 2022

For many, crystallized honey is a sign of alteration or adulteration of the product. However, nothing is further from reality, since the only problem with honey with small sugar crystals is being able to extract it from the container to continue using it.

Some questions that may arise are whether it loses properties or not, and if it is convenient to use it. In this article we will clarify your doubts and we will give you the best advice so that you can recover it.

To understand how decrystallize honey, you must first know how it is composed. In addition, you must not forget that it is a product that must be treated with the delicacy with which the bees make it.

What is bee honey?

Honey is a sweet product produced by bees apis mellifera, from the nectar of flowers and other plant secretions. What makes it a unique food is that the bees harvest, transform, combine, dehydrate, concentrate and store these vegetable substances in their honeycombs.

Honey is usually in liquid form, but it is also found in a solid or semi-solid state, such as crystallized honey. In the latter case, it does not mean deterioration or loss of its sensory or medicinal properties.

When there is crystallized honey, It is a guarantee that the product has not been adulterated by excessive heating. Therefore, it maintains all its natural properties.



What is the chemical composition of honey?

Honeys have a greater or lesser tendency to crystallize, depending on their chemical components. The composition of honey depends on the source of the nectar, beekeeping practices, climate and environmental conditions.

If they are honeys with less water and more solutes, then they crystallize more easily.

Bees produce honey with a high sugar content and a low proportion of water, which favors its crystallization.

carbohydrates

Carbohydrates represent the main component of honey and they are what form the crystals. They are made up of simple sugars, such as fructose and glucose, which make up 80% of all solids.

Some experts state that when honey contains more glucose than fructose, it tends to crystallize more quickly during storage. On the contrary, the more fructose they have, the longer they will remain liquid.

Water

Ripe honey has a water content below 18%. When it is above this amount, it tends to ferment. Water influences its viscosity, color and conditions the sensory qualities of the product.

enzymes

A peculiar characteristic of honey is the presence of enzymes added by bees. These are the ones that transform 3 nectar sugars into an additional 25. That is why they are considered responsible for its complex composition.

Some of these enzymes are invertase, which converts sucrose in nectar into glucose and fructose. Oxidase is responsible for the antibacterial property. Phosphatase breaks down starch and diastase is used as an indicator of adulteration when heating honey.

protein

Honey does not even reach 1% protein. Many of these are represented by enzymes.

As for its amino acids, the largest proportion are free, such as proline, alanine, leucine and isoleucine. They bind to sugars to darken it.

Organic acids

The organic acids in honey contribute to the flavor, aroma and stability of the product. It is characteristic to find gluconic acid, which is obtained by the action of the enzyme oxidase on glucose. Other acids are acetic, butyric, malic, citric, oxalic and tartaric.

Why does honey crystallize?

The answer to the crystallization of honey is its chemical composition, since It is a solution with many sugars dissolved in a small amount of water.. We are talking about approximately 80% sugar in just 18% water.

The rate of crystal formation depends on a few factors. Some of them are the storage time, the type of container and the environmental temperature.

For example, the plastic container lets water escape from the honey and this speeds up crystallization. In addition, storing it at 14 degrees Celsius favors the formation of crystals. Above 25 degrees Celsius it remains liquid.

A sudden movement of the container or the presence of foreign particles in the honey also form crystals. The faster crystallization occurs, the creamier the texture of the honey will be.

Although we are used to using fluid honey, the crystallized can also be measured with a spoon or spread with a knife. However, some techniques are applied to return it to its natural fluid state.



How to recover crystallized honey?

If you want a crystallized honey to be transformed into a liquid state, you can recover it applying 2 techniques that are based on the use of heat.

1. Heat in a bain-marie

In the bathroom of Maria, the food does not receive the heat directly, rather, it does so slowly and through the movement of the water that surrounds the container.

The first thing you should do is put the container containing the crystallized honey in a container of hot water. Stir constantly until the honey dissolves.

You can also transform it to fluid phase by portions, depending on what you are going to use. This is because there is a risk of crystals forming again.

The temperature of the water should be increased gradually, without burning the honey.

Once the fluid phase is recovered, it must be kept under certain storage conditions so that it does not recrystallize. For example, in an environment at no less than 20 degrees Celsius and never in the refrigerator.

2. Microwave heating

The microwave heats faster than the water bath, but You have to be careful because the heat is not transmitted homogeneously. It is advisable to heat the open container of honey, at medium power and for 30 seconds.

If it remains crystallized, repeat the heating for 20 seconds and, if necessary, reduce the time successively. Don’t forget to stir to speed up the process.

The microwave may seem easier to manipulate, but the heat it imparts to honey is not homogeneous.

Recommendations when applying heat to honey

If you have it in a plastic container, it is recommended to transfer it to a glass container sterilized and dry. In this way, moisture loss and new crystallization will be avoided.

Do not exceed 40 degrees Celsius when recovering crystallized honey. Some components, such as enzymes, may be affected.

High temperature denatures enzymes, losing its original structure and functions. In such a way that the first thing you should have is caution and a thermometer at hand. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert your finger as far as you can handle the heat without burning yourself.

The good news is that crystallized honey is not bad and maintains its sweetness, aroma and coloras well as its benefits. If it forms crystals, it is pure honey.

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