Crystallization is a natural phenomenon in which the liquid form of honey is converted to a solid or semi-solid state. Many assume that crystallized honey is adulterated or of poor quality. This is a myth. In fact the crystallization process is a natural process. Crystallization does not affect the quality of honey, it only changes its texture and color, giving the illusion of its deterioration. Crystallized honey retains the same quality and nutrients as its liquid form.
But why does honey crystallize? Honey, depending on its natural origin and chemical composition, crystallizes quickly, slowly or not at all.
Thyme honey crystallizes in a period of 8 to 18 months after harvest, depending on its pure character. The factors that determine the rate of crystallization are the glucose content of the honey, the humidity (water content), the presence of microparticles in the honey (pollen, wax residues) and the storage temperature.
In general, the more glucose and less moisture a honey contains, the faster it will crystallize. Also, unfiltered honey will crystallize faster, as the particles it contains act as crystallization nuclei.
|Crystallization rate of Greek pure honey categories.|
|Honey Category||Crystallization time in months *|
|Pine honey||After 24 months|
|Fir||Does not crystallize|
|Chestnut||12 – 18|
|Thyme||8 – 18|
|* The crystallization time is valid for pure honeys that have not undergone any heat or other treatment and are kept at room temperature.|
How to restore honey to its original state:
The crystallized honey can be liquefied and returned to its original state. Because heating can affect some of the characteristics of honey, it should be done as gently as possible. The best way is to use a bain-marie , putting a pot of water containing the jar of honey into a larger pot also filled with water. As the water in the large pot simmers, the water in the small one heats and liquefies the honey. When using a pot, we must be very careful not to heat the water up too much, nor should the bottom of the pot come into contact with high heat. In general, the water in which the honey is placed should have a temperature of around 55°C, but not exceed 60 °C. Honey can also be liquefied by putting it on the radiator in winter , but it should not be exposed to direct sun light as it destroys various components of the honey.
In summary, it is worth noting that crystallization is not a sign of adulteration or low quality, but a characteristic of a pure and natural product.