Crystallization doesn’t indicate the quality of honey. There is a large variation in colour, aroma and taste of honey. Honey will not spoil in any condition if properly harvested, handled and stored. Do not assume that thin honey is not of good quality.


Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance made by Honey bees (Apis mellifera & Apis cerana). Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants (floral nectar) by regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. Bees store honey in wax structures called honeycombs. The variety of honey produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the best-known, due to its worldwide commercial production and human consumption. Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees, a practice known as beekeeping or apiculture.
Honey has been in usage since the ancient period. Several cave paintings in Spain depict humans foraging for honey at least 8,000 years ago. It has found mention in Quran & Ayurveda and the medicinal value of this product has been long recognized in India.
As winter approaches in Kashmir, the demand of honey in the market increases. People of different ages begin to use honey in different forms to stay energetic and for enhancing immunity against cold winters. People are always demanding pure honey and asking, “khand ma chus ralle” (is it adulterated with sugar?).
There are different types of honey differentiated on the basis of floral source and season. In Kashmir, there are mainly two types of honey which differ in colour, taste, and aroma. Acacia honey (kikkar maunch) is white and transparent in colour, and is harvested in June. Isodon regosus honey locally called “solai maunch” is light reddish in colour.
Here are some facts, misconceptions and myths that you must know before you purchase your honey.
?If your honey has crystallized (granulate or solidify), that doesn’t mean it is impure or adulterated or spoiled because pure honey also crystallizes within few weeks of months after extraction when temperature goes below 18 °c. the truth is, crystallization of honey is a natural and uncontrolled process containing more than 70% of sugars and less than 20% of water. Hence overtime, almost all pure raw honey crystallizes. The composition ratio of glucose and fructose in a floral nectar source determines how fast the honey crystallizes. Honey source with a low fructose to glucose ratio such as multi-flora honey crystallizes swiftly in days and weeks, while honey varieties with a high fructose to glucose ratio such as acacia honey crystallize slowly.
?During crystallization, glucose sugar which is naturally pure white, separates from water and becomes crystals, while fructose remains as a liquid. So, if you see that the honey is crystallized, don’t assume that it is impure, adulterated or spoiled because crystallization doesn’t indicate the quality of honey.
Solution: To return a bottle of crystallized honey to liquid state, simply place it over a warm water bath of about 40 °c for about 15 minutes or as soon as the granules have dissolved. Remember don’t directly heat honey; by doing so, it would lose beneficial properties. Store honey at room temperature in air-tight container, refrigerating and microwaving as not recommended.
?We generally think that the light colour honey is always the best; however, this is simply a myth. There is a large variation in colour, aroma and taste of honey. It depends on the availability of floral nectar and season. Colour of honey ranges from very light watery colour to dark brown and taste also varies. Sometimes honey is blended of poly-floral source.
?Honey will not spoil in any condition if properly harvested (if the moisture content is less than 20%), handled and stored. Otherwise honey tends to ferment and produce acidic smell. Archaeologists have discovered clay vessels filled with honey, wine and olive-oil more than 3,000 years old in the tomb of the pharaohs. The wine and olive oil has spoiled, but the honey remained intact and still edible.
?Honey contains moisture level ranging from 18% – 24% (depending on the time and season of collection). Less the moisture, thicker will be the honey and vice-versa. Other nutritional content is same in all types of honey. Also, honey appears thinner in summer season because of its elevated temperature. So it must not be assumed that thin honey is not of good quality.
Chemical composition of
honey (values in g/100g)
Water content 17.1
Fructose 38.2
Glucose 31.0
Sucrose 1.5
Other disaccharides 4.2
Oligosaccharides 4.6
Total carbohydrates 79.8
Dietary fibre 0.2
Minerals* 0.5
proteins 0.3
Acids 0.5
Vitamins(B2,B3, B5, B6, B9 & C ) >0.5
Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc

—The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at SKUAST Shalimar, working on beekeeping in Kashmir. [email protected]

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