A common misconception is that honey that has crystallised has ‘gone bad’ or that it is a sign of contamination. This is false. The fact is that all honey will crystallise given the right conditions. Honey is a super-saturated solution of two sugars: glucose and fructose. Since honey is super-saturated, it’s a natural chemical process that some of the sugars eventually come out of solution. Honey can even crystallise when it’s still in the comb.

Three factors make honey more likely to crystallise:

Temperature – Honey will crystallise in the hive if the temperature goes below 10ºC, and honey will crystallise if it is stored in a cold cupboard or fridge. To return honey back into a smooth liquid it should be placed into a bowl of warm water where it can slowly warm up. Heating too quickly or at a high temperature will ruin the delicate composition of honey.

Glucose & Fructose Ratio – Honey is a super-saturated solution of two sugars: glucose and fructose. The proportions of these two sugars are characteristic of the plants the bees fed on to make their honey. It is the glucose that crystallises, so some types of honey are more resistant to crystallisation because they have low glucose.

Pollen – Pollen in honey is normal and is a highly beneficial component. Honey with pollen in it is great honey, but crystallisation happens faster when there are small particles available to build on. Raw honey has lots of pollen within it and this acts as a ‘fingerprint’ to its origin – English honey will contain pollen particular to English flora. Mass-produced honey has its pollen removed by micro-filtering, which conceals its origin and enables producers to blend together many different kinds of honey from many different parts of the world.