In this article, we will answer the question, “Is it safe to consume crystallized honey?” and explain why honey can last for so long.
Is it safe to consume crystallized honey?
Yes, crystallized honey is safe to eat. Some people prefer the grainy, spreadable texture of crystallized honey.
Because of the presence of honeycomb, beeswax, pollen, or propolis bits that speed up the crystallization process, raw honey is more susceptible to crystallization.
Honey can be de-crystallized by heating it in a water bath at 110°C. Although microwaving is a quick method, it is not recommended because it degrades the quality of honey.
Why does honey have such a long shelf life?
Honey is made up of 80 percent sugar. Such high sugar levels contribute to increased osmotic pressure, which forces water to rupture out of microbial cells, halting microbial growth.
Honey contains 17-18% water, which is bound by sugar and is unavailable to microbes for metabolic reactions such as fermentation.
Furthermore, the dense nature of honey prevents oxygen from entering. Aerobic bacteria and fungi cannot grow in the absence of oxygen.
It has an acidic taste.
The honey has a ph of 3.9 on average. It is caused by the presence of gluconic acid, which is a byproduct of nectar ripening.
Acidic ph inhibits the growth of bacteria such as C. diphtheriae, E.coli, Streptococcus, and Salmonella. Honey’s antibacterial properties are used to treat burns and wounds.
Special enzymes are present.
Bees produce an enzyme called glucose oxidase to aid in the preservation of honey. By converting sugar into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, this enzyme ripens honey. Antimicrobial properties of hydrogen peroxide are exceptional.
Polyphenols, flavonoids, methylglyoxal, bee peptides, and other antibacterial agents also inhibit microbial growth.
When does honey become stale?
It could be contaminated.
Mold, yeast, and bacteria are naturally present in low concentrations in honey. The presence of C. botulinum spores in honey is extremely rare, occurring in only 5–15 percent of honey samples. These spores are present in safe levels and are not harmful to adults.
They can, however, cause infant botulism in children under the age of one year. Primary sources of honey contamination include peels, bees’ digestive tracts, dust, air, dirt, and flowers, among other things, and secondary sources include humans, equipment, containers, animals, water, insects, and so on.
It may contain toxic substances.
Bees gather nectar from specific flowers and store it in the honeycomb. Toxins such as grayanotoxins can be transferred from plants such as Rhododendron ponticum and Azalea pontica during this process.
Furthermore, the processing and aging of honey results in the production of a toxic substance known as hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). This toxic substance has a safe limit of 40mg per kg of honey.
It could be tainted.
To increase volume and profit, honey is frequently adulterated with cheap sweeteners. Low-cost sweeteners can be added directly to honey or fed to bees, resulting in a low-quality product.
Honey is sometimes harvested before it is fully ripe. Unripe honey contains more water, making it more vulnerable to microbial attack.
It could have been stored incorrectly.
Honey that has been improperly stored absorbs moisture. As a result, its water content exceeds the safe level of 18%. Microbes in the environment can easily contaminate honey stored in open containers.
Furthermore, high-temperature treatment of honey degrades its color and flavor while increasing its HMF content.
It has the potential to crystallize and degrade over time.
Although crystallized honey has a gritty texture and an opaque appearance, it is unspoiled. Crystallization, on the other hand, causes water to be released into the honey, increasing the risk of contamination. Honey loses most of its quality attributes when it is stored for an extended period of time.
How should honey be stored and handled safely?
Moisture is the number one enemy of honey quality. Honey must be stored in airtight containers to keep moisture at bay. Preferably, these containers should be made of glass or stainless steel.
Honey should be stored in a cool (10–20°C), dry, and dark location away from direct heat sources such as direct sunlight or the stovetop. Refrigeration hastens the crystallization process and makes honey denser.
Crystallized honey can be resurrected by gently heating it in a water bath or over a direct flame while stirring constantly. To avoid contamination, do not dip used or dirty spoons or forks inside the honey jar.
Always trust your instincts. If there is something wrong with the appearance, texture, taste, or color of honey, it is best to discard it.
In this article, we answered the question, “Is it safe to consume crystallized honey?” and explained why honey can last for a long time.