Creamed Honey

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148
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Taupo
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My first extraction of honey, 6 weeks ago, has gone from runny to quite a thick consistency, even in this heat, sitting in its bucket. I noticed that a jar of it I was using a few weeks ago, was starting to look like it was going 'creamed'. Which I was quite happy about, as I want to cream some anyway and was thinking I would need to buy a starter. So I put that jar away.

I have just checked that jar today, and it has set well, it now appears to be creamed honey, which I am pleased about!

My question is, is there a reason that it has done this by itself? I realise that honey does cyrstalise, but this has been quite fast and in warm weather... Is it the content, eg clover or such like, which is more prone to going that way.
 
Solution
My understanding is that the crystallisation rate is affected by the relative amounts of fructose, glucose, and moisture. It will happen faster when there are microscopic particles like pollens as well. As Trevor suggested, some floral types tend to have characteristics that favour self-crystallisation, and some don't.
148
120
Taupo
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It probably has Pohutukawa or some such honey. Some honeys crystalize very quickly on there own. How fine or coarse are the crystals?
Creaming honey is a process all it's own.
You have crystalized honey.
thanks mate, it only just flows out of the honey gate, fine crystals. Yep have watched your video on creaming. Was just thinking I had my own 'starter' as it has set so nicely in the jar! But maybe not.
 
85
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Hamilton
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My understanding is that the crystallisation rate is affected by the relative amounts of fructose, glucose, and moisture. It will happen faster when there are microscopic particles like pollens as well. As Trevor suggested, some floral types tend to have characteristics that favour self-crystallisation, and some don't.
 
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Solution

Dave Black

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Honey contains mostly fructose, glucose, and water.
Solubility of Fructose in water at 25C = 4000g/L.
Solubility of Glucose in water at 25C = 909g/L.
From those properties everything else follows.
 

Dave Black

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Just because I can, let me mention that glucose can be MORE soluble in a fructose solution than it is in water, but the conditions are quite specific. If the fructose solution is more concentrated than 1500g/L and the temperature is around 30C the solubility of glucose increases by about 50%. This is why, in a beehive, these sugar solutions can be quite concentrated, maybe 85%. Lowering or increasing the temperature, or reducing the concentration of the fructose solution, will cause the glucose to precipitate. This is one of the things that make bees so special.

@Jacob is quite right. In nature most nectars/honeys have more fructose than glucose; some have a lot more and never granulate. Others, like canola, dandelion, and English Ivy have more glucose than fructose and granulate immediately. In old beekeeping circles you might hear 'White's ratio' being quoted, which predicts (not entirely accurately) the amount of granulation given the glucose to water ratio. The amount of suspended particulates has a huge effect on the onset of granulation, so proudly selling 'unfiltered' honey inevitably results in rapid granulation unless you are very careful to keep the water content low (<13%) and the temperature up >28C. Warm temperatures obviously increase HMF. Filtration to some degree increases the shelf life of your honey. Honeys with a lot of protein (like manuka and heather) play by different rules.

Of course lazy beekeepers cream it, or let it set, and the problem goes away. 😂

Still the most important reference work for this kind of thing is Eva Crane's 1975 edited collection 'Honey: a Comprehensive Survey', but it's really hard to get hold of and several hundred pages. I you have one in good condition contact me!
 
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NickWallingford

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I was always told that honeys with particularly high levulose:dextrose ratio will granulate slowly, if at all (cf Vipers bugloss, tupelo honey - thanks, Van Morrison). Honeys with a low ratio will granulate rapidly, such as rata, which I can remember starting to granulate almost before we could get it to the extraction plant. Fast granulation => small crystals, smooth on the tongue. Slow granulation can sometimes set so hard you can hardly cut into it. There have been efforts (North Island, historically) to create 'creamed honey' by breaking up the crystals physically - effectively grinding the granulated honey. True proponents of creamed honey would sneer at this approach. Back a long time ago, some beekeepers would allow a 60lb tin of honey to granulate hard, and then cut it into 1lb sized 'blocks', just like a block of butter, and wrap it in waxed paper for sale locally... I wrote about that once; I'll see if I can find the article.
 

Dave Black

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@NickWallingford Good Grief!

…you mentioned the ‘L’ word. And the ‘D’word.

People fructose and glucose are the same compounds chemically, but the elements are arranged differently in space. They are ‘optical isomers’. When you shine a light through them because of this different physical property they interfere with the light and bend it in different directions. Fructose bends it to the left (anticlockwise); glucose bends it to the right (clockwise). North America uses the term levulose (‘left’ sugar) and dextrose (‘right’ sugar), uncharacteristically using Latin to form the words. It could be more confusing but we’ll stop there.

An interesting side note perhaps. The strength of this effect is greater for fructose then it is for glucose, so if you have a solution with equal quantities of each polarised light is turned left-ish. Sucrose also has some optical activity, and bends light to the right (clockwise). When you take sucrose and hydrolise it (chemically add water to make fructose and glucose) the solution goes from turning light to the right, to turning it left - it ‘inverts’.

Hence ‘invert’ sugar.
 


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