Author Topic: Crystallized Honey  (Read 3651 times)

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Offline riverbee

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Crystallized Honey
« on: September 17, 2014, 10:03:38 pm »
i received this email from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm on the topic of crystallized honey that is harvested  in their 'Back to the basics'.  i thought it was a great article and wanted to post here for those who don't subscribe to their emails and also to help others and add additional tips from everyone who wants to chime in on how to deal with crystallized honey you have already harvested:

Brushy Mountain Bee Farm Back to the Basics Crystallized Honey

"Back to the Basics
After storing your honey for several months it now appears cloudy. Do not be alarmed, your honey has crystallized. Crystallization is not an indication of your honey worsening or deteriorating. Crystallized honey is not harmful or expired. Crystallization is the natural process of honey when it leaves the hive. Honey can even crystallize in the hive if your colony is unable to sustain hive temperature in honey super.

You will find that some honeys will crystallize faster than others. Honey is a highly concentrated sugar solution with more than 70% sugar and less than 20% water. Fructose and glucose are the two primary sugars found in honey. Glucose will crystallize faster due to its low water solubility. The ratio of these two sugars will determine how quickly your honey will crystallize. This is why some honeys will last months or years without crystallizing while others will crystallize within weeks of extraction.

Other factors which affect how quickly honey crystallizes include:

    Temperature. Storage temperature has a huge influence on the crystallization process. Storage temperatures between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal temperatures for crystallization. Temperatures below 50 degrees will slow down the crystallization process as the honey becomes thicker. Honey will resist crystallization at higher temperatures above 70 degrees. Crystals will dissolve when temperatures exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Particles. During extraction particles of debris are caught by the honey. Pieces of beeswax or pollen grains will act as a base for the glucose crystals. Unfiltered honey contains a higher number of particles; therefore, it will crystalize faster than finely filtered honey. Also consider the particles in air and be sure to allow your honey to settle before bottling to allow air bubbles to be released.

Honey can be returned to its lucid form if it becomes crystallized. Gently warm the honey by placing the bottle into a water bath or, depending on size of container, a sunny window. Do not heat honey beyond 104 degrees or it will destroy enzymes, begin to caramelize the sugars and alter the flavor. Heat the water bath slowly and bring the temperature of honey up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating must be done with care if the honey is to retain its nutritional value. If you have left your honey in pails, use a melt belt to bring the honey temperature up to a safe range or use a honey bottler & liquefier as a double boiler.

Some honey enthusiasts enjoy honey in its crystalized state. It is easier to use in cooking and will spread better on toast. See what your customers prefer. "

here is how i store honey and deal with crystallization. i have honey that will be produced and sell past fall months and carry over through winter months through the next season, so long term storage of the honey becomes a small issue for me. when i extract, the honey flows through a double stainless steel seive, and through a tight nylon material into a five gallon pail. the process of an extractor can and does create foam on the top of the honey once settled.  if i have the time, i let the 5 gallon pails sit long enough 24 hours or more to let everything settle to the top, pop the lid and skim everything off the top. foam, debris, beeswax, whatever there is, this helps to clarify it. when i don't have the time, which is normal, the 5 gallon pails are stored in my garage and allowed to freeze when fall and winter months come.  when i need to use that bucket, i take it in the house, pop the lid and i scrape everything off the top of the frozen/crystallized honey with a big spoon, this is not honey and again, will help to clarify the honey even when filtered one more time, and i do filter one more time.  i use a pail heater to bring it to a temp to be able to pour it and strain it once again into another 5 gallon bucket with a pour spout on it, a honey gate.  this bucket sits overnight, and once again i pop the lid and scoop off any foam that remains at the top of the bucket. this bucket is kept in the warmest room in my house during winter months.

mostly during winter months, if the honey starts to crystallize in the bucket i again place the pail heater on if need be to gently warm it to be able to pour easily from.  if i have poured honey into jars that start to crystallize, i place them into a kettle and add hot water with the lid on until the crystals are gone. (not boiling).  if i have many jars with crystallization, i put the jars in a 5 gallon pail, fill to the shoulders and put the pail heater on just long enough until the honey is no longer crystallized.  i rarely use this method.  i don't like to pour honey and let it sit.  i like to pour it as needed.  some of my customers don't care that the honey is crystallized, some do. 

for comb honey i freeze in the package in ziploc bags what can't be sold right away. when a customer wants the comb honey, i tell them to let the comb honey come to room temp in the ziploc, moisture collects in the ziploc, not on the face of the comb or the top of the lid container.  it rarely crystallizes this way. 

as the article indicated, some honeys crystallize quicker than others, and no matter what you do, there will some crystals in the bottom of the jar.  i know many do not have the hive numbers to produce in 5 gallon pails or now like perry IN BARRELS.....  :D
share what you do or don't do for others who may have questions about crystallization.
i keep wild things in a box..........™
if you obey the rules, you miss all the fun.....katherine hepburn
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