Why Honey Candies (Crystallises)

I go and buy some lovely honey, it’s runny when I take it home and then after a while it starts to go hard, whats that all about?

Does my Honey have sugar in it?
How do I de-crystallise it? – Microwave?!

These questions, all legitimate, have been asked of me many times over the last 8 years.
So I thought it was time to put the answers on my blog.

Honey is nectar collected from a flower which consists of 85% water and 15% sugars mainly Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, and Maltose.

The bees then change this, so, by the end of the process honey consists of 85% sugars and 15% water and the water molecules are dispersed in a way that means honey never goes off.

So why does Honey crystallise?

Honey is very concentrated and while in the hive the temperature is between 35c to 40c, this means…

A. The speed of crystallisation depends on temperature, how filtered the honey is (eg. if pollen and other items in the honey that help to trigger crystallisation are still present) and of course the nectar type (what plant it has come from) plays a part to the speed of crystallisation
More glucose, quicker crystallisation.

B. Honey is concentrated sugar, when it is not heated beyond the temperature in the hive, it starts to cool which allows the molecules to gather into clusters which is called nucleation.
This is a very natural process.

C. In some parts of the world bees are feed with sugar syrup and the product of this is then extracted and sold as honey. In Australia bees are only feed sugar syrup when there is absolutely no other choice and the bees are at risk of death of starvation. The honey substance that they make out of this is only for them to feed on. So if its a pure Australian honey there is no sugar added.

How do you return your crystallised honey into soft honey?

Hot water bath
Placing the bottle of honey in a hot water bath and mixing it well with a fork will slowly warm the honey, returning it to a runnier state.

Heating vent
Another way of warming the honey is over a heating vent, and within an hour or two it will nicely warm the honey and de-crystallise it.

You could also keep your honey in a warm place in the kitchen to help slow the crystallisation. e.g. the pantry, cupboard, windowsill.

Try to avoid the microwave it heats in pockets thus over heating the honey and damaging it.

Enjoy your honey and remember crystallised honey is still great, just a different consistency!