Our latest batch of honey has gone completely solid! I opened the tap on the bucket and nothing came out. Honey has a habit of doing this sometimes, depending on outside temperature, nectar source and the amount of pollen in the honey. Every batch of our honey is different, it just depends where the bees have been getting their nectar. And our honey is completely raw and just filtered through a sieve, it contains pollen and beeswax particles, so it is very unpredictable.
Fortunately, candied or crystalised honey is not "bad", its just solid! And even that is temporary, as soon as you heat it up, the crystals dissolve again and the honey can be poured. Some of my customers LOVE our candied honey and will ask for it specifically, others prefer to wait until we have "runny honey" again.
What causes honey to go candied?
Honey is just a mixture of sugars (glucose and fructose) in water, with some minerals, enzymes, vitamins and amino acids found in the nectar, as well as pollen and beeswax particles. Any mixture of sugars in water will crystalise when the solution is strong enough, when the temperature is low enough or when there are small particles in the mixture to start the crystals growing (i.e. pollen).
Temperature - when honey is below about 10degC it will start to crystalise. Sometimes we put honey int he fridge to hide it from the ants, and it will always go solid. Fortunately with our climate, we can usually keep our honey above 10degC, so this isn't so much of a problem for us.
Sugar ratio - even at higher temperatures, if the honey is high in glucose compared to fructose, it will start to crystalise, and this just depends on the nectar that the bees have been harvesting. At different times of the year when different plants are flowering, we will get a totally different honey from our hives. Some honey is naturally more solid than other honey from the time its extracted, for example Manuka honey is very thick and used to be considered a nuisance because it is so difficult to extract!
Pollen - most commercial honey is heated and pumped through micro-filters to remove all pollen (and any other small particles). This creates a more shelf-stable honey, and it is clearer and brighter in colour. It makes the honey less likely to crystalise, but you've missed out on all the goodness of raw unprocessed honey. Unfortunately all commercial honey tastes the same because they are trying to produce a consistent product, whereas we have a different batch every time, reflecting our unique apisoir (nectar region).
What to do if your honey goes candied?
Try some and see if you like it! Some of my customers love candied honey, so don't just reject honey if its gone solid, you may find that you love it too.
Candied honey is still perfect of baking and stirring into your tea. If you really want runny honey for your toast, you can try gently heating the honey until the sugars dissolve again - either stand the jar in hot water (not too hot!) or my latest technique is to leave it in my car in the sun for a day!
If you MUST have runny honey, buy small amounts at a time of freshly extracted local raw honey. That way it is likely to stay runny until you finish the jar.
Do you love candied honey? Or prefer runny honey? Or just take what you can get?
Don't forget you can order my honey online or buy locally from Pink Poppy (Kingaroy) and Sassy Mama (Nanango).