I keep getting asked the same question about honey. "If it's raw, why isn't it solid?" A lot of health shows and videos show raw honey in a solid crystallized state. Some websites will also post pictures of liquid honey next to crystallized honey and say the liquid honey is fake. This is not accurate.
Yes, raw honey can be liquid. In fact all raw honey starts out in a liquid form. The bees keep the hive around 95° F, which keeps the honey in a liquid supersaturated state. It consists of mostly fructose and glucose, with water, sucrose, maltose, trisaccharides, vitamins, and minerals filling in the remaining. Depending on the particular honey composition of fructose to glucose, they honey may crystallize quickly, very slowly, or not at all. If there is a larger ratio of glucose, it tends to want to revert from a dissolved solution and crystallize more quickly. This ratio all depends on the type of nectar the bees have collected.
Raw honey has pollen, propolis, tiny natural crystals, and bits of wax in it that create "seed" surface for crystallization to occur. Processed, ultra-filtered and heated honey does not contain these seeds for the crystallization process to start. Ultra-filtered honey that does not contain pollen cannot even be sold as honey per the FDA as honey has to have pollen present to be genuine. Unfortunately these fake honeys get into the food supply. A lot of times it is imported and adulterated with high fructose corn syrup, or even water. All the health benefits of natural raw honey have been taken out, and only sugar remains.
When we process honey it is kept at room temperature and never heated. Heating honey past 104° destroys beneficial enzymes and can change the aroma and color. If your honey crystallizes and you don't like the texture (some people prefer it crystallized), you can gently heat it to 95° - 104° in a water bath to re-liquify it. It should stay liquid for a month or so, but will eventually return to a crystallized state.
You can freeze extra honey to keep it liquid. This thickens the honey so much that the molecules cannot move very fast to form crystals. But if you want to keep it in its liquid state, don't put your honey in the refrigerator, as this will encourage it to crystallize faster. Just keep it at room temperature for daily use. I personally like my honey in its liquid form, but everyone has their individual preferences. I am going to try my hand and making creamed honey and keep it raw. Creamed honey has a controlled extra-fine crystallization process that makes the honey smooth as butter. The usual method includes heating the honey beyond the range of 104° F and then introducing specific sized sugar seed crystals, then cooling it. As it cools, the crystals match size from one to the other making uniformly sized crystals throughout the whole container. I found a creamed honey recipe that doesn't require heat and will maintain the integrity of the enzymes in the honey. I will let you know how it turns out and will have it on my web store for sale if it goes well!
So in the end, know your source for raw honey. All of our honey is sold in the liquid state as it sells pretty quickly. Any small beekeeper will most likely be selling raw honey. They need your support to keep the bee population healthy and happy as it takes quite a bit of time and money to maintain honeybee hives. Always read the label and avoid the processed variety of "honey".
You should be eating three tablespoons of honey a day for optimal health. If you take it at night before bed it also helps you get a great nights sleep! Your liver converts honey directly into glycogen, which fuels your brain during sleep. I'll have more on this and many other health benefits in my next post. Until then, keep supporting the bees, our lives depend on them.
With aloha, Linda