Is honey that's congealed still good?

Is that crystallized honey still good to eat?

Question

Is honey that has crystallized still good to eat?

Answer

In general crystallized honey is still good to eat. Honey has an incredibly long shelf life due to the following factors:

  1. It is high in sugar and low in water content. In fact, honey only contains 17-18% water. The high sugar content creates an osmotic pressure that causes water to leave the cells of organisms that might be in the honey.
  2. The dense nature of honey protects it from oxidation.
  3. the pH of honey is 3.4 to 6.1 with an average of 3.9. This creates an inopportune for some families of bacteria.
  4. Bees secrete a natural enzyme called glucose oxidase into the nectar that acts as a natural preservative. The glucose oxidase breaks down glucose sugars and generates hydrogen peroxide, a kind of bleach.

To ensure honey stays safe proper storage is recommended which includes:

  1. Store in an airtight container.
  2. Keep in a cool, dry area (generally room temperature is fine as long as the room temperature isn't regularly over 70 degrees, however, cooler is better).
  3. Avoid contamination of the container or by using dirty utensils to get honey out.
But is it always safe?

As with most things in life, no. It should be noted, honey can go bad due to contamination factors. This can occur because of cross contamination from humans, the manufacturing process, wind, insects, animals and/or contaminated water. Also, because honey can small amounts of C. botulinum which can be harmful to babies. For this reason children under the age of 1 are recommended to not be fed honey.

Bee's can also collect nectar from plants and flowers that have toxins and transfer those toxins into their honey. You're not likely to find any of this honey at the store but if you are an amateur honey maker it's certainly something to be aware of. The classic example of this is when the bees get grayanotoxin from Rhododendron species of plants and create what is called "mad honey".

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