Cloudy Honey

What is it and how does it happen?

Cloudy Honey – it sounds like it should be a song title, doesn’t it? But it’s a phrase sometimes used by the public to describe honey that has started to naturally crystallize or granulate in the container. Despite what they think, the resulting “cloudy” honey is not “spoiled” or “stale” and is perfectly good to eat for many years. Honey recently found in the Egyptian pyramids was crystallized but was as good to eat as the day it was placed there.

Every type of honey, in it’s natural state and after it is removed from the comb, will eventually take on a semi-solid state known as crystallized or granulated honey and is prized by many honey fans as the only true form of honey. Some honey sources will spontaneously start to crystallize just a few days after being extracted from the comb (canola, aster or goldenrod honey). While other sources (wildflower, clover, blueberry, etc.) start to crystallize within weeks after bottling. Others types remain liquid for weeks, months, and even years. Honey consisting of a greater proportion of glucose to fructose sugar will granulate faster and different flower nectars have different proportions of these sugars.

For example, many beekeepers, having their bee colonies collecting nectar from canola and mustard blossoms, know that during a cool summer the removal of honey from the hives must not be delayed. Honey from these crops tends to crystallize readily, even in the honeycomb, and this honey is then impossible to extract from the comb.

Controlled use of this process of crystallization can be used by honey companies to make a desirable products such as creamed honey, spun honey, whipped honey, churned honey, or honey fondant.

From a technical point of view, this natural phenomenon happens when glucose, one of the three main sugars in honey, spontaneously precipitates out of a supersaturated honey solution. This supersaturated state occurs because there is so much sugar in the honey relative to the water content. The glucose tends to precipitate out of the solution and the original solution changes to a more stable saturated state. The glucose then loses water and takes the form of a crystal. The type of honey (wildflower, clover, etc.), which also includes sugars other than glucose and more than 180 identified substances such as minerals, acids and proteins, also influences the speed and degree of crystallization.

To keep out any “seed” or particulate matter, air bubbles, wax particles, or pollen, many large commercial packers add diatomaceous earth to warm honey. They then pump the “flash-heated” honey through a series of filters to clean the honey. This resulting cleaned honey is then “flash-cooled” and stored in tanks for storage or bottled immediately for sale.

This high degree of filtering to clean the honey is mainly to satisfy the large supermarkets. Supermarket chains know that the honey is going to remain in the stockroom or on the shelves for a long time, maybe years, before its sold. They want the honey to remain constant and liquid until the customer buys the product and don’t want the honey to crystallize, otherwise the customer may think that the store is selling “bad” honey. 

The end result of this treatment is a highly filtered and bland tasting honey, with a long liquid shelf life.

UrbanSweet Honey pledges to present to our customer a unique product that is clean, wholesome, unpasteurized, produced locally and as deliciously close to the honey in the hive as possible. UrbanSweet Honey is strained to the minimum level required by regulation to try and retain as much of the real natural urban goodness of the nectar as possible. 

UrbanSweet Wildflower honey will crystallize. And this is a good thing.

Russell Godwin
UrbanSweet Honey

** Note ** ...... Honey should be stored at room temperature in a glass container with a firm lid. If you wish to return the crystallized honey to a liquid, place the honey container on a jar lid in a pot of water and heat the water slowly to warm. Within a few minutes of the water reaching a warm temperature (not greater than 120F.), the honey will start to return to a liquid form.

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