Honey generally comes in two different forms; one is clear liquid honey, and the second is a firm creamed honey which is cloudy. Both can be bought in-store or from a local farm or beekeeper. Cloudy honey is usually used as a condiment on foods, whereas liquid honey is more common for recipes and drinks. Cloudy honey can also mean that the process of crystallization has occurred. This is when the sugar in liquid honey solidifies, leaving a hard consistency and cloudy appearance.
When honey is cloudy, it can mean two things. Either the honey has been creamed and set with a firm texture. Or your honey has crystallized. Both ways are completely safe to consume. Creamed honey is bought cloudy and crystallized honey is a process that happens over time to the sugar particles which make it look cloudy.
If you are a real honey enthusiast like me, you will know that honey is a real superfood. It is also massively varied in taste, with millions of different types to choose from and try. You are bound to find the perfect pot of honey for your taste buds and your cooking needs. Firm cloudy honey is by far my favorite. If you love the cloudy stuff but do not know how or why it is made in this way, then keep reading to discover exactly what it means when honey is cloudy.
What does it mean when honey is cloudy?
When honey is cloudy, it can indicate two things. The first is that this honey has been produced in this way and will have a firm-like texture as opposed to a liquid form. The second is that your honey has crystalized, which means that the sugar particles have solidified. I will first look at store-bought cloudy honey and the process it goes through to get to this delicious result.
Store-bought cloudy honey
Liquid honey is more common than cloudy honey. This is because honey’s natural consistency is liquid. This is the translucent gold honey usually found in the preservatives aisle of your local supermarket. This honey is dispensed into bottles and can be squeezed and poured over food, used within recipes, and used to sweeten drinks.
Cloudy honey, on the other hand, is more commonly used as a condiment for foods such as croissants, toast, and on cakes due to its firm consistency. The process to achieve cloudy and firm honey includes whipping up the raw honey with a ‘seed’. The ‘seed’ is a small amount of already creamed honey, which helps to kick-start the process.
A common misconception is that creamed honey includes dairy. This is not true. Creamed honey is simply raw liquid honey that has been whipped into a firmer consistency. The whipping process disrupts the sugar crystals within the honey by adding air particles. These air particles make the honey appear whiter and cloudy while also achieving a creamy and firm consistency.
If you want to make your own creamed honey, then you can do so by following the steps laid out in this blog post on the website AmberDropHoney. You can buy your ‘seed’ of creamed honey from your local beekeeper. Double-check that the blender you are using is robust, as honey is dense and so may cause damage to weaker devices.
Crystalized cloudy honey
Crystalized honey is when the sugar particles within the liquid have started to solidify, creating a crystal-like grit. This honey is perfectly safe to consume, and the process can be reversed by some slight heating which I will touch on in more detail later. The crystallized honey becomes cloudy in appearance because of the granules.
Sugar granules in honey are not created by a chemical change or anything like that. This is a very natural process for honey to go through, and it is simply a reordering of molecules within the substance. Certain types of honey can crystalize faster than others, yet it will also be heavily dependent on the temperature of storage your honey is in. Honey that is kept in cold conditions is much more likely to crystalize than honey stored in cupboards.
If you keep your honey in the fridge, then it is likely to crystalize faster than if you keep it in a pantry at room temperature. The average room temperature is 68°F. In the winter this is likely to drop considerably, and so be aware of this change in storage for your honey. It may crystalize faster in the winter.
Cold conditions make honey crystalize faster because the glucose in the honey separates from the water much faster than in warmer temperatures. In the wintertime, honey within beehives can also go through this process. If your honey is crystallizing, it can be an indication that your honey is a much-less processed product and fuller of nutrients!
Why does some honey look cloudy?
Honey looks cloudy, either because it has been creamed or because it has crystallized. However, some liquid honey can look cloudy too, even if neither of the above processes has occurred. This is because of different pasteurization processes.
Pasteurization is a heating process designed to prolong the shelf-life of honey. Honey is a preservative and so technically does not go ‘bad’. Yet it can crystallize at different speeds depending on many different factors, including storage temperature. If honey has been intensely pasteurized, then the crystallization process is prevented.
Some pasteurization processes make honey appear ‘purer’ looking as it creates a translucent appearance. Therefore, if you have liquid honey in your cupboard that is more ‘cloudy’ or ‘misty’ it means that it is closer to its raw form and has not been put through any intense pasteurization.
Raw honey is honey that has been retrieved directly from the hives and dispensed into bottles and jars for consumption. Raw honey is much mistier in the way it looks and has a cloudier appearance than pasteurized honey. This is because many beehives do not produce crystal clear honey.
Bees use pollen to make their honey. Pollen is naturally a misty yellow color and is not transparent. Therefore, natural raw honey does not have a see-through appearance, even though it is still in liquid form. It is the man-made pasteurization process that clears up the honey’s appearance.
Furthermore, the different types of flowers pollinated by the bees will give the honey a different look. Some honey will be browner colored, whereas others will appear more golden and yellow. My uncle used to be a beekeeper in the South of Ireland, and the honey his bees created was a yellow meringue color.
It was beautiful honey containing truly sweet aromatic citrus flavors. It was cloudy and misty in color too, and was not translucent. He did not pasteurize his honey. He filtered it only and then dispensed it into jars in its raw form. It was called ‘Willkie’s Wolfhill Honey’ and he used to give it away for free in County Laois.
Even though cloudy honey usually means that it has either been creamed or has crystalized, raw honey can also have this look about it. You can ask your local beekeeper about their honey, and if it looks cloudy, you can find out what process it has been through to make it look that way.
If you buy your honey from a supermarket, then it is likely that any cloudy-looking honey on the shelves has been creamed. All honey in supermarkets is mass-produced and has therefore been pasteurized. You will not likely find raw honey for sale here.
Is cloudy honey ok to eat?
Cloudy honey is completely safe to eat. Whether it’s raw, creamed, or crystallized. You can eat cloudy honey, no problem. Honey is a preservative and can last for thousands of years. How the product is stored contributes as a big factor here.
Human use of honey has dated back eight-thousand years ago, discovered by records found in old cave paintings. The Egyptians used it sacredly for its healing properties, and it was collected on a mass-scale around two thousand years ago for consumption. Honey is a healing agent and contains many antibodies and enzymes that are full of nutrients for the human body and skin.
There is a lot of debate about pasteurizing honey and whether this is a necessary process for human consumption. This is because it can destroy most of the goodness it carries, making the health benefits of pasteurized honey next-to-none. Therefore, the question really should be is clear honey ok to eat and why do we pasteurize it?
Of course, clear honey is also perfectly safe to eat. Pasteurizing it, simply makes the honey look ‘cleaner’. Yet, this does not mean that it is better for you. Cloudy honey, in its raw liquid form, is the best type of honey that you can consume to reap all the health benefits that it has to offer.
It is also important to distinguish here that creamed honey is not the same as raw honey. Creamed honey is a process that makes the honey thicker, adding air particles to it which in turn makes the honey white and cloudy in appearance with a firm consistency. Raw honey is the honey that has come from the beehives in its most natural form.
You can, however, cream raw honey if you wish. Beekeepers may also do this with their raw honey, as some people prefer creamed honey over liquid. This way they can offer both raw liquid honey and raw creamed honey. Raw creamed honey will hold the same health benefits as raw liquid honey.
Creamed honey that you find in the supermarket will have been pasteurized. Some people confuse mass-produced creamed honey with being better for you than mass-produced liquid honey. This is not the case. Pasteurized cream honey will have lost just as many of the health benefits as pasteurized liquid honey.
Even though both raw and pasteurized honey has their health differences, both are still completely fine to consume. Whether they are cloudy in appearance, or not.
To sum up, it is not the look of the honey that can determine which is better for you. It is completely to do with the process in which it has gone through to reach your cupboards and shelves. Always check the labels of honey and look for local farms and beekeepers to find the best types of honey out there.
How do I fix cloudy honey?
Fixing cloudy honey depends on what type of honey you have that is cloudy. If you have bought creamed honey, then its cloudy appearance cannot be changed. However, if you have crystallized liquid honey in your cupboard, then you can fix this type of cloudy honey with some heat.
You will need to heat some water either using your kettle or your stove. You then need to put your honey jar in the water, being sure that none of the water gets inside the honey. This can contaminate your honey, and make it ferment. This is the only instance when your honey will go bad.
Screw the lid onto the jar tightly and put it in the hot water, checking the consistency after 15 minutes. If your honey has crystallized to an extreme level, then it will take a few tries to bring it back to liquid form. Once your honey has heated and returned to its liquid form, it will no longer be cloudy from crystallization.
It is advised never to microwave your cloudy crystallized honey, as this can kill off the nutrients. However, if your honey has already been pasteurized then this will not make any difference as the goodness has already been heated out of it. You may want to try heating it in a saucepan instead so that you do not burn your honey with electromagnetic waves.
If you have bought raw liquid honey and it has a cloudy appearance, this is not something you can change. This is just the way this type of honey looks. In its raw form, honey is naturally cloudy and misty looking. This is where all the nutrients are, so do not be afraid if your honey is not transparent.
Differences between cloudy honey and clear honey
The main differences between cloudy honey and clear honey can be determined by the processes they have gone through to get to that state. For example, if I compare pasteurized liquid honey to pasteurized creamed honey, then the differences are in the processes that have made them either cloudy or clear.
In stores, cloudy honey is usually creamed, whereas clear honey is liquid. Both have been pasteurized. The clear honey is what the creamed honey looked like before the whipping process. Both have similar nutrients levels but taste quite different with very different consistencies.
I find that creamed honey has more of a taste than liquid honey does. A taste I much prefer. However, I use liquid honey in my coffee as creamed honey does not dissolve well enough. The taste and the consistencies are the main difference between these two and have much to do with your preference and what you intend to use them for.
Because of the difference in taste and consistency, it is not unusual for people to be partial to either one or the other. For example, my Gran loves her cloudy honey, yet my Mum loves the liquid type! Both can be used in recipes, drinks, and as condiments, yet creamed honey is more likely used as the latter, and liquid honey is more regularly used for the former two options.
If you like to buy clear honey, this just means that it has been through an intense pasteurizing process to achieve this transparency. Some honey brands will call this honey ‘pure’ but that is not to be confused with ‘better’. It simply means that the honey has been filtered and heated many times which gives it a glass-like translucence.
As well as this, creamed honey is not to be confused with raw honey, just because of its cloudy appearance. Creamed honey is clear liquid honey that has been whipped into a firmer consistency. The two hold similar stances in nutritional value.
Cloudy honey that has crystallized, differs from clear honey because it has started to solidify. As mentioned above, this process can happen due to several different variants. The main one being how and where you store your honey. If your honey is cloudy because it has crystallized, then its main difference will be its gritty taste.
Eating crystallized honey is perfectly fine, but it will taste crunchy and sweet with a slight after-taste. Many people do not like to eat it in this form as it is not as enjoyable as smooth liquid honey. This, however, is the only real difference between this type of cloudy honey and clear honey.
You can now safely say that you know what it means when honey is cloudy. It is all linked to the process the honey has been through and whether it has been creamed or has crystallized. Remember to always support your local beekeepers and spread the word about the magic raw honey possesses!