Honeybees have been around for centuries; therefore it is fair to say that honey has been sweetening our lives for many eons. Honey is a natural sweetener for our coffee, tea, and other beverages. Many use it for baking and cooking purposes. Nutritionists have expressed that this sweet delight is loaded with essental iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and a myraid of other nutrients. Honey acts as a natural remedy to ease symptoms of the common colds. In fact, today some doctors recommend administering a small amount of this sweetener to kids instead of over the counter medicine when they are nursing a cold.
Clearly, honey has been sweetening our palates before sugar and beets came along. It is tasty and provides a natural sweet flavor. However, many complain that it becomes hard sometimes. This certainly can be somewhat inconvenient. The thing is, honey has a natural tendency to crystallize; and this is due to the source of the nectar and the temperature in which it is stored. Many will think that this hardening means that it's bad; however, experts say crystallizing indicates a good sign. In fact, some countries consume this in its crystallized form. Here in the US, it is preferred in its liquid form.
In order to prevent crystallization, some companies will heat the honey to a temperature of 180 degrees and strain it through a fine filter. As a result, this process discourages hardening for a long time. However, it also compromises the taste in that some of the enzymes and seed crystals are destroyed. Nevertheless, the honey remains sweet. The speed at which honey is crystallized is dependent on the temperature. Therefore, during the winter and fall, honey will crystallize faster. On the other hand, in the warmer months of spring and summer, it will retain a more liquid form.
Whenever honey is in its natural habitat (hive), the bees do a great job of keeping it warm at a temperature of 93 degrees; thus keeping it liquid. On purchasing honey, so as to stop it from crystallizing, try to avoid refrigeration. Bear in mind that crystallization takes place best between 40 to 45 degrees. However, if crystallization occurs, in order to stop it, warm the honey slowly or gently over warm water. Doing it in this manner will disallow the enzymes from being destroyed. The enzymes are what provide the honey with the delicious taste and flavors. So next time you wish to sweeten a cup of tea or coffee, go ahead and use what the honeybees have provided for us.