One of the most exciting parts about being a beekeeper is eating the honey. So it can be disappointing, after all your hard work, if your honey turns cloudy or crystallizes once you’ve extracted it.
But don’t worry! Cloudy honey doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong – it’s completely natural and is easy to fix. It’s happened to me numerous times before, so I thought I’d create a post on why it occurs and how to solve the problem – so you can get that delicious, runny honey flowing once more.
If you’re not interested in how and why it happens and simply want to fix the issue, then here’s what to do:
Place the jar in a bowl of warm water and stir until the crystals have dissolved. This will clear the cloudy honey in no time and restore the runny texture.
If you’d like to know a bit more about the crystallization process, then keep reading.
Why Does Honey Crystallize?
To explain why honey turns cloudy, it’s necessary to go over how bees make it in the first place. Bees produce honey from nectar, which they collect from flowering plants near their hive. Nectar is made up of three sugars – sucrose, glucose and fructose.
Once the bees reach the hive, the nectar is then passed mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee to reduce the moisture content. Bees also use their wings and flight muscles to further reduce the water content until it’s between 14% and 18%. During this time, the bees also add an enzyme called invertase that breaks down the sucrose into glucose and fructose.
Once the moisture content is low enough, the honey is considered ripe and placed inside a honeycomb cell. When the cell is full, it is capped by the bees using a non-porous wax cap. When all the cells on both sides of the frame are capped, you can extract the honey.
Unlike nectar, which contains three types of sugars, the honey you remove from the hive will contain just two – fructose and glucose. It is the glucose, along with other factors, which causes the honey to crystallize after you’ve extracted it.
Why Does Honey Turn Cloudy After Extraction?
The naturally occurring glucose in honey is what causes the honey to crystallize. The glucose bonds with the water in the honey to form crystals. Over time, more crystals form and create a solid layer. This gives honey that cloudy appearance.
Honey will crystallize at different rates depending on the composition of sugars from which it is made. For example, yellow box honey (from Eucalyptus) will crystallize slowly over a period of a few years, whereas canola and white honey clovers will crystallize very quickly (and may even do so while still in the comb).
Temperature is another factor that causes the honey to turn cloudy. I store my honey downstairs in a cool, dry place and over time it does crystallize. However, the honey I store in my pantry upstairs, where it is generally warmer, takes a lot longer to turn cloudy.
How To Fix Crystallized Honey
It’s very easy to restore your cloudy honey to liquid form. All you have to do is sit the jar in a saucepan or bowl of warm to hot water and stir it until the crystals have dissolved.
Here is how I fixed a jar of honey that had crystallized. It didn’t have that runny consistency, and it looked less glossy. After putting it in a bowl with warm water, I moved it around so all the honey stuck to the sides would also melt.
After 10 to 15 minutes, most of the crystals melted. You can still see some of the granules on the side, but overall it went back to that golden color and runny texture.
Is Crystallized Honey Safe To Eat?
The candying or crystallization of honey is a natural process – just because it may have occurred in your honey does not mean there is anything wrong with it. It is perfectly safe, and you can most certainly still eat it!
Cloudy honey doesn’t affect the taste or the nutritional value. In fact, some people prefer crystallized honey because it doesn’t drip at all, making it easier to scoop out of a jar and spread on a piece of toast or bread.
In my house, if we have a jar of cloudy honey, we often use it by adding a teaspoon to a cup of tea – a healthier alternative to sugar. It dissolves easily and gives the tea a delicious sweetness.
Why Is The Honey In The Supermarket Never Cloudy?
Cloudy honey is a sign that your honey is completely natural because it has not gone through the commercial process that prevents crystallization and keeps the honey from maintaining the runny form you see on supermarket shelves.
Prior to being packaged and sent to stores, honey is usually heated and put through a filter. This process is called pasteurization. The heating dissolves any of the crystals already formed, while the filtration removes any of the particles. That’s why you never see crystallized honey in the supermarket.
Honey that has become crystallized is perfectly fine to eat and has not lost any of its nutritional value or delicious taste.
In fact, when honey crystallizes, it proves it is a natural raw product that has not been subject to any of the typical commercial heating or filtering processes.
To change your honey back into a liquid state requires very little effort – simply add the jar to a bowl of warm water, and the crystals will dissolve, leaving you with runny honey once more.