MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Why does honey turn to sugar and how can I prevent this from happening?

Date: Mon Feb 12 08:55:13 2001
Posted By: Kevin Ramsey, Staff, Speciality Sweeteners, Chr. Hansen, Inc.
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 981564465.Ch

The chemical composition of honey is almost exclusively invert sugar.  
Invert sugars are the individual components of sucrose; dextrose (glucose) 
and fructose.  These two monosaccharides together make up the molecule 
sucrose.  However, in honey they are individual molecules.
Dextrose (glucose) has a tendency to crystallize and that crystallization 
causes other dextrose molecules to crystallize.  Soon you have a layer 
upon layer of crystals until there is a uniform separation.  One way to 
prevent this crystallization is to avoid having the honey's temperature 
lowered.  Lowering the honey's temperature promotes crystallization.  
However, if the honey does crystallize it is very simple to return the 
crystals to solution; just heat the product while stirring.  This will 
dissolve the crystals back into solution.

Your second question refers to the 'thinning' of honey.  Normally honey's 
solids content is between 80-84%.  This can be lowered with the addition 
of water, which will lower the honey's viscosity, and thus allow it to 
flow easier.  Just be aware the lowering the solids of honey also promotes 
crystallization.  This can be explained by the fact that with the lowering 
of the solids percentage thus lowering the viscosity of the syrup the 
crystals are able to find each other quicker.

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