Preserving Honey


Honey is a very sensitive product that can absorb odours from the environment. It is advisable, therefore, to keep honey in airtight glass jars. Do not expose these jars to high temperatures or keep them in odorous environment. Honey will go sour when exposed to' high temperature or mixed with foreign substances (bread crumbs, butter, water, etc.). Store jars with honey in clean and odour-free kitchen cupboards, away from direct sunlight. Plastic containers are inappropriate for storing honey. Honey must be kept in airtight jars stored in a cool, dry and dark environment.


Honey is usually adulterated by mixing it with sweeteners, industrial honey, or with honey of inferior quality, even with the addition of artificial essences. Adulterated honey is of inferior quality in terms of nutritional value. Consumers are advised to demand pure, known-brand honey packed in airtight glass or plastic containers.


From ancient times up until 100 years ago, honey was stored in small clay vases the spout of which featured a groove that was filled with water to buffer the intrusion of ants and insects. Clay honey jars and pithoi integrated a round strainer area on their top section where honeycombs were placed to strain their valuable content. Today honey containers are made from glass, plastic, clay or galvanized tin that come in various shapes and sizes. Jars and accessories that control the flow of honey are also available in the market. However, most honey containers are made from glass or plastic where cut comb is included. Label information includes: the name of the honey varietal (thyme, pine, fir, etc.), company/producer name, method of production and date packed and expiration date.


This is not to be understood as adulteration or mixing of honey with other substances! Rather, crystallization is a natural phenomenon that detracts nothing from the biological and nutritional merits of honey. When honey crystallizes, this does not mean that it is spoilt! Honeys from melitoma, usually dark brown in colour, do not crystallise as much as honey from nectar. Honey is a supersaturated solution. Crystals will develop in honey when glucose crystallizes out of solution. Crystallization of honey is basically determined by glucose / water ratio. When such ratio is less than 1.7 then crystallization occurs slowly. When the ratio is more than 2.1, crystallization is fast.


Crystallization is a natural phenomenon related to the vegetable source of honey, which has a bearing on its chemical constitution. How fast honey crystallizes depends on the concentration of glucose and water, the ratios fructose-glucose, glucose-water and its pollen content. A decisive factor for crystallization is the ratio of water in the honey: e.g. when the ratio of glucose, over water is less than 1.7 and more than 2.1, honey crystallizes slowly and fast, respectively. In a lot of countries honey is heat-processed, mainly for aesthetic purposes, to prevent crystallization. However, this process destroys a lot of honey's nutritional and beneficial characteristics.


A simple way to correct crystallization is by putting a jar of honey in ben mari (water heated at 70°C) for 10 minutes, stirring honey occasionally.