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Crystallization of honey is a natural phenomenon where it turns from liquid to granulation or semi-solid state due to natural reasons.
So, what comes to your mind when you see a crystallized or semi-solid honey? There is a good chance that you might dismiss it as fake or adulterated honey.
This is due to the popular myth that “pure honey doesn’t crystallize“, but the reality is far from it.
Contrary to the popular myth, the crystallization of honey is a natural phenomenon. Natural honey extracted from the comb tends to crystallize sooner or later.
Here is some other essential source of information on “how to check the purity of honey” and “how we can identify fake or adulterated honey. It is a must for every honey consumer to know the reality of real and fake honey.
The crystallization of honey takes place when “dextrose” present in natural honey spontaneously precipitates out from the supersaturated honey solution.
The dextrose loses water (becoming glucose monohydrate) and takes the form of a crystal. The crystals for a type of lattice.
Pure honey contains natural sugars like fructose and glucose. Therefore, the ratio of fructose and glucose is the primary factor of honey crystallization.
Fructose content in Honey: The amount of fructose in honey may vary from 30% to 40% depending on the nectar source that bees collect from the flowers.
Content of glucose in Honey: Similarly, the glucose amount in honey varies between 25% to 40% depending upon the source of nectar from which the bees collect it.
Glucose has a low solubility rate when compared to fructose which has a high solubility rate in honey.
Therefore, honey that has more glucose value than fructose tends to crystallize faster. On the other side, honey that has more fructose content may crystallize slowly.
The speed of crystallization depends on the source of the flower from which honey bees collect nectar.
For example, if honey bees collect nectar majorly from Mustard flowers, the honey is likely to crystallize faster, whereas Acacia and Jamun flower honey take several months or longer to turn into crystallize state.
Crystallization is a process by which natural honey preserves itself, and will not rot for ages.
In fact, honey found in Egyptian pyramids was suitable for human consumption even after 3000 long years.
And yes, that honey was in the crystallization form!
The biggest irony in India is even the educated class of consumers live with this myth. They perceive crystallized honey as fake and adulterated, in spite of clear instructions on the honey label.
This myth has done so much damage that, the availability of natural honey in the marker has become scarce.
People selling genuine honey feel discouraged while the people selling synthetic honey and denatured honey is flourishing.
Most commercial brands avoid packing natural honey.
They either “denature” honey through high heat, ultrafiltration or by adding anti-granulating chemicals.
Or, they simply pack synthetic honey, like HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) or rice syrup, which doesn’t crystallize at all.
Honey crystallizes when the temperature dips down to 10°C or below. The reason is that genuine local brands never apply any harsh treatment like heavy heating or ultrafiltration to pure raw honey.
Therefore, all the properties of pure honey, natural sugar like fructose, glucose, pollen and other nutrients remain intact, leading to honey crystallization when the temperature dips.
We always use commercially available honey that doesn’t crystallize even under freezing temperatures throughout the year. In brief, this makes us believe that pure honey never crystallizes.
Therefore, this misconception has become so strong that we use honey from big brands, not knowing it is pure or adulterated and reject genuine pure honey in crystallized or liquid form.
On the contrary, locally available pure raw honey gets crystallized when the temperature dips to or below 10°C (50 °F).
According to the recent data, India exports more than 90% of Mustard honey produced.
The beekeepers who extract this highly beneficial honey, find it hard to sell it to the consumers, because of the prevailing myth about crystallization.
Therefore, the only choice left for them is to sell this honey to the exporter at a low price.
However, in developed countries like America and Europe, they don’t have this kind of myth. They sell crystallized honey by labelling it as ‘set’ honey and that too at a respectable price.
A high concentration of basic monosaccharides called dextrose and levulose is present in honey. It constitutes more than 70% of honey.
When honey is present in the clean waxy comb, it is liquid as honey bees maintain around 35-40 degrees temperature. After extraction of the honey from the comb, the dextrose which is less soluble tries to separate from the solution and form an anhydrous crystal, which is pale or white in colour.
As each flower has a different ratio of dextrose and levulose in its nectar. If the quantity of dextrose is more, honey is likely to crystallize much faster. If it is less, then the crystallization process may take several months or longer.
Another major factor is the presence of dust, pollen and wax particles in honey. They act as nuclei of crystallization and therefore, help crystallize honey faster.
Temperature also plays an important role, as the cooler temperature speeds up the crystallization process. That is why every label of honey around the world reads: “Do not refrigerate honey”. This is because refrigeration hastens the process of crystallization.
It also reads, ” If honey is crystallized, keep in warm water or sunlight”, because the honey comes back to liquid form when it reaches 40-degree centigrade.
Another factor is the period of immobility. Normally, if you are using honey daily, it will not crystallize, because daily movement prevents crystals from setting down. But there is a very high chance of faster crystallization if kept unmoved.
If the process of crystallization is faster, then there will be many tiny crystals resulting in a smooth texture.
If the process is lower, then the crystals will be larger and fewer resulting in a grainy texture.
In fact, any kind of crystallized honey can be easily converted into liquid honey by immersing it in hot water or by keeping it under sunlight.
However, care should be taken not to heat beyond 45 degrees, otherwise honey will start losing its nutritional value.
Blaming that crystallized honey is mixed with sugar, molasses and other adulterants.
We think that it is spoiled and reject it.
Mostly we say no to it due to our lack of knowledge about factors leading to crystallization.
We accept the honey that doesn’t crystallize and think it is pure.
We always prefer one type of honey in liquid form throughout the year.
These are false beliefs that arise from total ignorance about the crystallization of honey. And lack of knowledge about the changes in pure honey due to the fall in temperature and other factors.
In fact, crystallized honey is a sign of genuine natural honey with no adulteration.
Crystallization of honey is a natural phenomenon. Time taken for crystallisation vary for different varieties of honey. The myth against crystallisation has encouraged synthetic honey (which does not crystallise).
So next time you come across the crystallized honey, never perceive it as fake or adulterated, instead educate people about it.
We believe that people will start getting genuine honey once they come out of this evil myth.