It can be rather disconcerting to crack open your jar of honey, only to see it has solidified into a thick mass with a grainy - even chewy - texture.
It’s, no doubt, a far cry from the translucent, runny honey we’re used to seeing on supermarket shelves, packaged in squeezy or cute bear-shaped bottles.
But this graininess, called crystallisation, is still absolutely delicious, completely normal, and proof that your honey is natural and raw. Here, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about crystallised honey, including why it happens and how you can re-liquefy it at home.
The honey crystallisation process
First, a quick science fact: over 70% of honey is made up of fructose and glucose. Water makes up less than 20%, and the remaining percentage is composed of proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Since there is far more glucose and fructose than the water can dissolve, honey is in a constant flux of states, also known as an unstable super-saturated solution.
When the glucose molecules separate from water, they form a crystal. That one crystal serves as a base for more crystals to grow, and that’s how you end up with a flourishing crystal colony in your jar.
Crystals also grow over any natural particles found in honey, like pollen. And with the presence of pollen being a great way to determine that your honey is raw, unadulterated and 100% natural, we think that crystallised honey should be cause for celebration!
That being said, not all honeys are the same - honey with a higher fructose to glucose ratio, like acacia, crystallises slowly, while honey with high glucose to fructose ratio, like lavender, crystallises relatively quickly.
While those are all the natural factors that affect your honey’s crystallisation process, the way you store it can also make a difference: for example, storing your jar in a warmer area helps prevent crystallisation, while a colder area will increase the rate of crystal formation.
While crystallisation is an easy way to confirm your honey’s authenticity and rawness (fake honey never crystallises), we completely understand that sometimes, you might just want the joy of runny honey.
Never fear, because it is entirely possible to re-liquefy any granulated honey you may find in your pantry.
Simply place your open jar of crystallised honey in a bowl of warm water - as it sits in its warm bath, the heat will gently melt the crystals. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, giving it an occasional stir, and it will be restored to its gooey viscous state.
If you're in a rush, scoop your desired amount out of the jar, place it in a small dish, and put that dish in some warm water - voila, runny honey in mere minutes!
Alternatively, you could embrace the granules in your honey, and use it to add an extra zing to:
Baked goods: Toast, bagels, and english muffins all benefit from the crunchy texture of crystallised honey! Just spread it on like jam: many grainy-honey lovers rave about the unbeatable combination of toast and granulated honey, and a huge plus point has to be the fact that your honey can’t run off your bread like the liquid version does.
Beverages: Honey is a great addition to coffee, tea, or any warm beverage you can think of. Flavour aside, it’s a fantastic nutrient boost, and whether grainy or runny, dissolves beautifully in your mug.
Marinades and glazes: Grainy honey is a breeze to measure and spread onto all sorts of food, including meat, tofu, and roast vegetables. We’d suggest pairing a bold buckwheat honey with some garlic to create a delicious glaze that combines earthy flavours with a slight crunchy texture!
At the end of the day, whether you embrace the crystals or re-liquefy your honey, clumps doesn’t mean your honey has gone bad. In fact, it’s proof your honey is pure, not overly processed, and still contains all the nutrients and benefits of raw honey.
Bon appetit, and shop our range of raw, 100% natural honey here!