Why is some honey runny, and some honey solid?

At Mountain Valley Honey, a common question we get asked is “why is some honey in liquid form, and others more solid?” In this month’s blog post, owner and master beekeeper, Murray Elwood will give you the answer.

Crystallization (or setting) is a natural process for almost all raw honeys. It shows the honey hasn’t been over-filtered or processed, as crystallization occurs when honey contains minute particles of pollen and wax.

Our raw Kāmahi Honey showing different stages of crystallization, a natural process that shows the honey has not been over-processed.

Why does honey crystalize?

Crystallization occurs in raw honey due to it naturally containing high levels of glucose (anywhere from 25 to 40%). Glucose is less soluble in water than Fructose, and so it more easily separates from water to form tiny crystals in the honey.

The presence of tiny particles of pollen, wax and propolis can encourage crystallization as they serve as points that the crystals can attach to and grow from. As more crystals appear, these each serve as a surface to grow more crystals, making the honey crystalize even faster.

What affects the speed of crystalization?

As discussed, high levels of glucose and particles in the honey can speed up the crystalization process, but honey is also reflective of the region it is harvested, and it’s settling process depends on the honey’s source of nectar and the flora the bees have foraged.

“Every batch we harvest each year is different from the last, no two batches are the same."

Our Native Bush Honey can vary in settling times from season to season depending on the nectar sources that were available to the bees at the time.”

At Mountain Valley Honey, we choose not to cream our honeys.

“We let them settle naturally in ambient conditions. Apart from Honeydew, all the honeys in our range will settle over time” says Murray.

Some varieties, such as Manuka Honey, tend to granulate at a quicker pace than others like our Autumn Gold. Cooler temperatures also speed up the setting process.

Does all honey crystalize?

Some honey is processed to avoid crystallization by filtering out the tiny particles of the pollen and other beneficial particles in the honey that could encourage crystallization.

Here at Mountain Valley Honey, we choose not to filter out these things, because they are packed with nutrition and goodness.

“Sometimes the honey we have in liquid is simply because the stock has been in demand, been recently packed and it has not had time to settle,” he says.

Our Beech Honeydew Honey which doesn't set and will stay runny due to it not coming from a floral source and containing the levels of pollen most raw honeys have.

How to Decrystalize Honey?

Firstly, make sure to avoid putting your honey in cold temperature as this is likely to speed up crystallisation. Try to find a warm location to store the honey, but make sure to avoid direct sunlight as this can reduce the beneficial properties of the honey

To return crystallized honey to its clear liquid state, you can place the jar of honey in a warm water bath and gently stir it to make it less solidified.

Conclusion

If you are worried about your honey crystallising, don't be. It means you are likely to have genuine raw honey that hasn't had all the goodness removed. It is perfectly good to eat, will taste great, and there is goodness in every teaspoon.

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