The Crystallization of Raw Honey
“Help! my honey has turned into sugar!” We receive customer messages of this nature from time to time. A sincere concern, and sometimes bewilderment, over a natural characteristic of raw honey. While we address the issue in our FAQ, I’ve wanted to more proactively delve into the subject for some time.
From the hive, the various types of Greek honey that we carry have different consistencies. While all are relatively thick, some begin their journey thicker than others. And over time, they all increasingly thicken and develop a more crystallized texture. This natural change in consistency does not impact the flavor or quality of the honey in any way.
Okay, but why does crystallization happen in the first place?
Scientifically speaking, it is a function of the dissolved sugars in the honey converting to an undissolved state. And the rate at which that process occurs is determined primarily by the ratio of fructose to glucose. Honey with a higher fructose ratio will crystallize more slowly. Conversely, honey with a higher glucose ratio will crystallize faster.
Another factor that affects crystallization is the amount of pollen in the honey. Unfiltered honey will crystalize sooner than honey filtered of its pollen content. There are many reasons why honey should never be filtered, and that will be a separate blog post, but needless to say, we never filter our honey!
Storage temperature also plays a role in the rate of crystallization. Warmer storage temperatures will help prolong the fluid state of the honey. However, it is best to avoid prolonged exposure to warm temperatures, which can degrade the quality of the honey. We store our honey in a relatively cool warehouse.
The various types of Greek honey we carry will crystallize at different rates. The Ikaria Anama honey crystallizes within weeks of harvest. The process happens so fast that it is a race to get it into the jars before it becomes solid. The other types of floral honey that we carry, thyme and orange blossom, crystallize within six to twelve months of harvest. And our tree honey, pine, fir, and oak, are very slow to crystallize, often taking years.
Some customers prefer the thicker spreadable characteristics of honey that has begun to solidify as it is easier to use with bread or cheese and can be less messy.
But for those who prefer it to be pourable, a simple water bath will help return it to a more fluid state. Simply place the jar in a container of warm water and occasionally stir, replacing the water as needed if it becomes cool. Be careful to prevent any water from splashing into the jar.
In summary, high-quality raw honey that has not been processed will eventually crystalize. It is an entirely natural process that confirms the authenticity of the honey and in no way affects its quality or flavor.
At Klio, we are committed to delivering the world’s best honey from the pristine mountains of Greece to your table in its most natural form. Completely unprocessed, never heated, and never filtered.