Honey crystallization the formation and growth of sugar crystals in a container of honey. Crystallization could be a natural action and not an indication of adulteration or spoilage. Because of its physical properties, honey at the start tends towards natural crystallization, as it is a supersaturated sugar solution. Honey is especially comprised of 2 sugars: fructose and glucose.
The starting point of crystallization depends on numerous factors. The main reasons involve the fructose/glucose ratio (F/G) and therefore the glucose/water ratio (G/W). A high F/G and a low G/W usually have a slow crystallization method. Once the amount of glucose increases, it becomes insoluble within the water, and crystallization can happen.
Another common reason for crystallization involves the storage temperature that contributes considerably to the formation of crystals. Ideally, honey should be kept in either a cool location (lower than 4°C) so as to reduce the mobility of sugar molecules or at a high temperature (greater than 25°C) in order to make sure the crystals liquefy and the degree of the super saturation of glucose decreases.
There are several more external factors influencing the tendency of a honey to crystallize. The treatment of honey throughout process and bottling plays a very important role for the crystallization behavior of the finished product. Even the packaging type and material affects the long-term stability of honey with respect to crystallization. Plastic bottles boost the process of crystallization more than glass.
Lastly, crystallization can also depend on how honey is processed. Raw honey with zero preservatives is a desired product, as today’s consumers are becoming more aware of how their food is made and what may be added. But, when honey is sold raw, it can still have small, honey-typical particles that are present in the liquid, such as plant components, pollen, yeasts, sugar crystals, and beeswax. While these are all safe and edible, they provide starters to the crystallization process.
Unfortunately, crystallization is not a desired outcome. When honey crystallizes, it stops the ability for technological processing and increases the turbidity of the product. Even though crystallized honey is safe, a cloudy-looking jar of honey is more difficult to sell to consumers. Furthermore, a separation into a crystalline and a liquid phase reduces the microbial stability of the honey due to the elevated moisture content in the upper layer.
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