There is a misconception among the common consumers that granulated honey is an adulterated honey, having common sugar. This is not correct. In fact, granulation is a natural process of crystallization of the glucose content in honey. Honey is a supersaturated solution of glucose, fructose, sucrose and other sugars. Among these sugars, glucose is the most liable to granulate or crystallize under conditions of low temperature and high moisture content and spontaneously precipitates out of the supersaturated honey solution. The glucose loses water (becoming glucose monohydrate) and takes the form of a crystal (a solid body with a precise and orderly structure). The crystals form a lattice which immobilizes other components of honey in a suspension thus creating the semi-solid state. The water that was previously associated with the glucose becomes available for other purposes, thus increasing the moisture content in some parts of the container of honey. Because of the increased moisture, the honey becomes more susceptible to fermentation. Granulated or crystallized honey can be reliquified by keeping the container in hot water.
So why does Honey crystallize?
Honey crystallizes because it is a supersaturated solution. This supersaturated state occurs because there is so much sugar in honey (more than 70%) relative to the water content (often less than 20%). Glucose tends to precipitate out of solution and the solution changes to the more stable saturated state.
Tips to use Honey
1. Granulated honey can be made liquid and liquid honey can be made still thinner by slight warming.
2. Honey can be made thick by cooling and can be made to granulate by adding a little finely granulated grains of honey while stirring. This artificial crystallization can be used to create a product known as creamed honey. This is also known as creamed honey, spun honey, whipped honey, churned honey or honey fondant. Having the texture of butter, finely granulated honey makes an exceptional spread. Worldwide, in fact, creamed honey is consumed more often than liquid honey. Spontaneous crystallization results in a coarse and grainy product. Controlled crystallization results in a product with a smooth, spreadable consistency.
3. Honey is sticky but dissolves in cold and hot water.
4. Honey should not be left open to atmosphere or else it absorbs moisture due to its hygroscopic nature.
5. Honey is sweeter than cane sugar, and to obtain the degree of sweetness, honey can replace the sugar. Generally, honey may be substituted for an equal amount of sugar in recipes for bread, puddings, fillings, salads muffins, sauces, etc.
1. Crystal control in processed liquid honey. Journal of Food Science.
2. On Food and Cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York.
3. Honey The most Nutritious Food - Central Bee Research and Training Insttitute, Pune.