Why Does Honey Crystallize & How To Stop It From Happening

Why Does Honey Crystallize & How To Stop It From Happening

Executive Summary

  • Raw honey is not dehydrated through heat-processing, but by the bees themselves. Allowing nature to run its course ensures Manuka honey will retain its beneficial compounds.
  • To prevent hardening, store your honey in a dry location at room temperature. To soften crystallized honey, submerge the jar in a warm water bath. 


Has your honey become too hard to scoop, or has it taken on a crystallized appearance? The good news is that there’s no reason to worry; when your honey is in its raw form, it’s normal for it to harden over time. 

When it comes to raw unpasteurized honey, it’s not uncommon for it to harden over time, especially when stored at cooler temperatures or if you live in a cooler part of the world. 

Here’s what you need to know about why honey crystallizes and what you can do about it. 


Why Does Honey Harden?

Unlike pasteurized (heat-treated) honey, raw honey will naturally crystallize (or harden) over time. 

Sometimes the change in texture is due to improper storage, but many times, it’s just the result of raw honey’s tendency to crystallize over time. While crystallization can visually be off-putting, you can rest assured the honey itself is still safe to consume.

When honey crystallizes, it won’t affect the taste or longevity of its potency; it simply causes that raw honey to take on a different consistency. 


What Is Raw Honey? 

To understand crystallization better, it can help to know more about raw honey and how it differs from processed honey.


Raw Honey

Our raw Manuka honey is never extracted from the hives before the bees have finished naturally dehydrating it. To know if the honey is adequately dried, beekeepers refer to individual honey storage cells. 

Each cell should be capped with white wax (almost like a lid for each compartment of honey). No honey should be visible; if it is, it’s still being dehydrated. 

To ensure each batch of our Manuka honey retains its unique, rich flavor and beneficial properties, we’ve spent a long time refining our harvesting process. We ensure each honeycomb is capped before harvesting; this ensures the honey is at a low moisture level, allowing us to avoid high-heat processing. 

We then pass the honey through two coarse filters. This filtration process removes any undesired debris (such as remnants of wax) while allowing the powerful properties of the honey to remain intact (which we validate through our third-party testing). 

Once packaged, each Manuka product is sent to a third-party testing site to confirm its levels of beneficial compounds like MGO, Leptosperin, and others indicated used by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to ensure authenticity. 

Finally, our Manuka products get a special QR code that offers unique traceability. This code will tell you what hive the honey came from, the beekeeper responsible for caring for the hive, and the potency information for each and every batch. 

By scanning this code, you will also find:

  • Confirmation of authenticity 
  • The batch number of the product
  • Third-party batch test results for MGO and Leptosperin
  • The harvest region


    Pasteurized Honey

    Pasteurized and processed honey products are often dehydrated through high heat to obtain a uniform color, consistency, and texture. 

    Unlike raw honey, which is often gently warmed to no more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, pasteurized honey is typically flash-heated and rapidly cooled. 

    Honey is heat-sensitive; when it gets above a certain temperature, its natural chemical composition of sugar and fructose can be disrupted, and some of its beneficial compounds can diminish. 

    Not only are the chemicals within the honey changed, but so are its appearance and texture. Most processed honey will have a similar color — a translucent, syrupy bright gold lighter than raw honey. 

    On the other hand, raw Manuka honey is rich like caramel, with an irresistibly indulgent, thick, buttery, creamy texture. The lack of high-heat processing allows Manuka to retain its texture, flavor, and wellness benefits.


    Why Isn’t All Honey Pasteurized? 

    As we’ve mentioned, pasteurization compromises Manuka honey's superpowers, and we prefer to keep that very special trait. 

    At Manukora, we understand that while our honey offers a delectable bite and sensory experience, many people are seeking the wellness benefits of raw Manuka honey, which is why we never pasteurize our honey. 

    We feel there’s no need to intervene in the natural honey-making process that produces such potent, unique nectar. The bees take care of the dehydration for us, which takes a bit longer, but we would never rush perfection. 


    Why Dehydrate Honey?

    You can’t have honey that isn’t dehydrated in one way or another. Your honey can quickly spoil if it isn’t dehydrated by either the bees or manually through high-heat processing. 

    An industrial dehydrator takes a fraction of the time it takes for the bees to dehydrate the honey, which is why many commercial honey companies choose to harvest their honey early and dehydrate it themselves, but all honey is ultimately dehydrated. 


    Can You Stop Honey From Hardening?

    Crystallized honey can feel impossible to get out of the container, and chances are you’d like to indulge in your healthy snack at your convenience, not the convenience of the honey. 

    Keeping your honey soft and creamy is much easier than you’d think; it’s all about how you store it.


    How Do I Store Raw Honey? 

    Store-bought pasteurized honey can really be stored anywhere, and it will generally maintain its uniform color and consistency, which is one of the main reasons commercial manufacturers pasteurize it in the first place. 

    Raw honey, however, benefits from thoughtful storage. Raw honey can crystallize or even become less viscous with moderate temperature changes, so storing it at the correct temperature is key. 

    We suggest storing your raw honey at room temperature, in a dry place, out of direct sunlight — Manuka honey is best stored at approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). 


    How Do I Soften Crystallized Honey? 

    Softening crystallized honey is fairly easy, but you must be careful not to use too much heat as it can affect your honey negatively. 

    Put a bowl of water in the microwave for under a minute (long enough to get it warm to the touch but not too hot). Place your honey jar in the warm bath. 

    Remove the lid, but make sure the water doesn’t get into the honey. Once the honey is exposed to moisture, it can spoil because of the bacteria that naturally proliferate in that moisture.

    Check on the honey in about five to 10 minutes. If it’s still too tough to stir or get out of the container, you can reheat the water and repeat the steps above (though 10 minutes is usually enough to get the honey in even a full Manukora jar smooth again). 


    Wrapping Things Up 

    Raw honey will naturally harden if stored for prolonged periods at a temperature cooler than room temperature — while its appearance may seem a little out of the ordinary, crystallized honey is completely fine to eat, both as-is and when warmed back to its creamy consistency. 

    Fun fact: Creamed honey is a type of honey that has been guided into a micro-crystallized state, and it makes for a delectable topping on toast! You can check out our article on creamed honey here for everything you need to know.



    Final Report Summary - TOPHONEY (Enhancing the quality attributes of processed honey and avoiding its crystallisation by the application of a non-thermal treatment process) | FP7 | CORDIS

    Phenolic Compounds in Honey and Their Associated Health Benefits: A Review | PMC

    Benefits of Manuka Honey | Cleveland Clinic

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