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Honey Crystallization

Honey Crystallization Honey does not go “bad” as many foods do; it remains wholesome after decades.    –Eva Crane, “A Book of Honey” What Is Crystallized Honey? Honey sometimes takes on a semi-solid state known as crystallized or granulated honey. This natural phenomenon happens when glucose, one of three main sugars in honey, 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). 1 The crystals form a lattice which immobilizes other components of honey in a suspension thus creating the semi-solid state. 2 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. While crystallization is usually undesirable in liquid honey, controlled crystallization can be used to make a desirable product. Crystallization can be deliberately induced, and with control, can be used to create a product known as cremed honey. This is also known as creamed honey, spun honey, whipped honey, churned honey or honey fondant. Spontaneous crystallization results in a coarse and grainy product. Controlled crystallization results in a product with a smooth, spreadable consistency. 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. The monohydrate form of glucose can serve as seeds or nuclei which are the essential starting points for the formation of crystals. Other small particles, or even air bubbles, can also serve as seeds for the initiation of crystallization. How Do The Sugars In Honey Influence Its Tendency To Crystallize? Honey is composed primarily of sugars, the main ones being glucose and fructose (in nearly equal proportions) as well as maltose and sucrose. 3 Because the sugar concentration is so high, the sugars precipitate out and serve as nuclei for crystals. When honey is heated, the sugar crystals re-dissolve to a liquid state. How Is Crystallization Used To Make Cremed Honey? Having the texture of butter, finely granulated honey makes an exceptional spread. Worldwide, in fact, cremed honey is consumed more often than liquid honey. 4 To produce fine crystals, many seeds or nuclei of solids must be present in the honey. The Dyce process is often used to make cremed honey. The method involves adding starter nuclei to honey after it has been heated twice [to 120°F (49°C) and 150°F (66°C)] and then strained. Chilled, dried and finely ground honey–serving as the starter seed–is mixed into the cooling, liquid honey. The product is firm in three days, and in six days it has a creamy, spreadable consistency. How Does Crystallization Affect Honey Quality? In terms of consumer appeal, granulated honey is generally regarded as unacceptable. When granulation is incomplete, the crystalline layer is overlaid by a layer of liquid with a water content higher than that of the original honey. This creates a favorable environment for the growth of yeast and may lead to fermentation. 1 How Does Storage Affect Crystallization? At room temperature, crystallization begins within weeks or months (but rarely days). The crystallization process can be avoided with proper storage, with emphasis on proper storage temperature. For long-term storage, the use of air-tight, moisture-resistant stainless steel drums is recommended. Cool temperatures [below 50°F (10°C)] are ideal for preventing crystallization. Moderate temperatures [50-70°F (10-21°C)] generally encourage crystallization. Warm temperatures [70-81°F (21-27°C)] discourage crystallization but degrade the honey. Very warm temperatures [over 81°F (27°C)] prevent crystallization but encourage spoilage by fermentation as well as degrading the honey. Processed honey should be stored between 64-75°F (18-24°C). Unprocessed honey should be stored at or below 50°F (10°C). Alternatively, one study has shown that honey can be preserved in a liquid state if it is stored at 32°F (0°C) for at least five weeks, followed by storage at 57°F (14°C). References 1. Assil, H.I. et al. 1991. Crystal control in processed liquid honey. Journal of Food Science 56(4):1034. 2. McGee, H. 1984."On Food and Cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen." Macmillan Publishing Company, New York. 3. Crane, E. 1980. “A Book of Honey,” Charles Scribner’s Sons. 4. Graham, J.M., ed. 1992. “The Hive and the Honey Bee,” Dadant & Sons, Inc., Illinois. 5. Townsend, G.F. Processing and storing liquid honey. Chpt. 9 in “Honey.” Source:


APITHERAPY Apitherapy is a type of alternative therapy that uses products that come directly from honeybees. It’s used to treat illnesses and their symptoms as well as pain from acute and chronic injuries. Illnesses that apitherapy may treat include: multiple sclerosis arthritis infections shingles Injuries that apitherapy can treat include: wounds pain burns tendonitis During apitherapy treatment, honeybee products may be: applied topically taken orally injected directly into the blood Apitherapy has been used for thousands of years. It can be traced back to ancient Egypt and China. The Greeks and Romans used bee products for medicinal purposes as well, where bee venom was used to treat joint pain from arthritis.   Bee venom, honey, and other products Apitherapy can include the usage of all products created naturally from honeybees. This includes: Bee venom. Female worker bees produce bee venom. It can be delivered directly from a bee sting. The bee sting may be administered to the skin through a stainless steel micro mesh. This allows the venom to enter the skin, but prevents the stinger from being attached to the skin, which would kill the bee. Honey. Bees produce this sweet substance. It can also be harvested. Pollen. This is the male reproductive material bees collect from plants. It contains a large number of vitamins and nutrients. Royal jelly. The queen bee feeds on this enzyme-enriched food. It contains a large number of beneficial vitamins. Propolis. This is a combination of beeswax, tree resins, honey, and enzymes made by bees to protect the hive from external threats, like bacteria or viruses. It contains strong antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties as a result. Beeswax. Honeybees create beeswax to build their hive and store both honey and pollen. It’s commonly used in cosmetic products. Finding products that are as pure and, in some cases, fresh as possible can help get you the best results possible from apitherapy. Taking a vitamin that only contains a small portion of royal jelly, for example, wouldn’t be as effective as taking one with a larger dose of the honeybee product. It’s also worth noting that local honey can be most beneficial to help you fight allergies.     Benefits and uses of apitherapy Apitherapy can be used to treat a number of different conditions: Ease arthritis pain Bee venom therapy (BVT) has been used since ancient Greece to help relieve pain from rheumatoid arthritis. This is due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. ResearchTrusted Source has found that BVT can lead to a decrease in swelling, pain, and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. One study even found that it can reduce the need for traditional medications to be used, and that it simultaneously reduced the risk of relapse. Heal wounds Honey has long been used topically to treat wounds — including both open cuts and burns — thanks to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties. Today’s research backs this up. A 2008 reviewTrusted Source found that medical dressings containing honey were effective at helping heal wounds while lowering the risk of infection. Helps with allergies Local wildflower honey, as it turns out, can help treat allergies in several ways. Honey can soothe a sore throat caused by allergies and act as a natural cough suppressant. Local wildflower honey may also protect people from allergies. This is because local wildflower honey can also contain trace amounts of flower pollen, a known allergen. Consuming local honey could slowly introduce this allergen to the body, potentially building up an immunity to it. Treat immune and neurologic conditions BVT can be used as a complementary treatment for diseases tied to both the immune system and the neurologic system, including: Parkinson’s disease multiple sclerosis Alzheimer’s disease lupus While bee venom shouldn’t be the first or only method of treatment for these conditions, research found evidenceTrusted Source that bee venom was able to boost the immune system and reduce some symptoms of these conditions in the body — partially thanks to bee venom’s anti-inflammatory effects. It’s important to note that this research also indicates that bee venom can be a double-edged sword. Bee venom can cause side effects in many people, even if they aren’t allergic. Treatment must be considered carefully. Regulate thyroid function BVT was found to help regulate thyroid function in women who have hyperthyroidism. However, research into BVT as a thyroid treatment is currently very small, and more studies are needed. Reduce gingivitis and plaque Propolis can have a number of health benefits. It can reduce gingivitis and plaque when it’s added to a mouth rinse. ResearchTrusted Source into propolis-containing mouthwashes found that it may be able to naturally protect against oral diseases. Propolis may even help heal and prevent canker sores as well. Serve as a multivitamin Both royal jelly and propolis contain a large number of vitamins and nutrients. They can actually be taken as multivitamins to improve overall health, including hair appearance. Propolis is available as an oral supplement and an extract. Royal jelly can be found in soft gel and capsule form. Are there any side effects or potential risks? Different methods of apitherapy carry different risks. For people allergic to bee products, all methods of apitherapy can be dangerous. BVT in particular can be dangerous. Bee venom can induce a histamine response. This can cause anything from irritation like swollen, reddened skin to severe allergic reactions that can be life-threatening. BVT can be painful. Even if you aren’t severely allergic to bees, it could still lead you to experience negative side effects. These include: headache cough uterine contractions discoloration of the sclera, or white of the eye jaundice, or yellowing of the skin severe pain in the body muscular weakness   The takeaway Apitherapy makes uses of a large number of different honeybee products. Some practices of apitherapy will have less risk than others. For example, adding honey to your tea to soothe a sore throat carries less risk than being stung by bees to relieve arthritis pain. Talk to your doctor to see if apitherapy is right for you. Together, you can make sure it won’t interfere with any other current treatment. If you’re ready to look into apitherapy and your doctor isn’t sure where to go next, look for a naturopath who offers it as a treatment method.  Source From : Medically reviewed by Karen Cross, FNP, MSN — Written by Ana Gotter — Updated on March 8, 2019