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We bought honey from the store today. I just realized there are strange bacteria-like substances inside it. What are they? Is it safe to eat?

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    How do you know it's bacteria? I think it is just the sugar in the honey crystallizing out. If you heat it gently it should disappear. – MiMintzer Sep 12 '16 at 23:23
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    @MiMintzer I don't know if it's bacteria. I just said "bacteria-like" because it looks that way. – Artus Sep 12 '16 at 23:26
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From the pictures, it looks like it's just the beginnings of crystallization, so it's perfectly natural and safe. You can reduce the speed of the crystallization by keeping it in a relatively warm place (25C/77F) if possible.

Beyond that, I'd just ignore it for now, but once it spreads through a lot of the honey, you may want to heat it gently to melt the crystals. That's not a permanent fix though. It'll tend to recrystallize some after cooling.

If you haven't seen this before, it could be due to buying different kinds of honey (the more filtered, the slower the crystallization), different storage conditions, or just eating it before it has time to crystallize.

  • I don't think you have to worry about it being bacteria. There is only one food item on the planet that will never go bad, and that's HONEY! – Hutchette Sep 13 '16 at 2:53
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    Actually I have seen crystalized honey before, but I never saw the initial stage where tiny spots are formed (or probably didn't pay attention). I thought this was something different. – Artus Sep 13 '16 at 10:04
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    @Eeciyes - not much, if at all (iirc). But of course there will be those who tell you that it's bad to heat it due to vague health claims which a) I won't go into and b) is off-topic here anyway. Do as you please! I personally like crystallized honey better, but that is probably because it reminds me of my childhood. – Stephie Sep 13 '16 at 10:09
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    'Heating' should be done by just putting it in a container with moderately hot water. – user34961 Sep 13 '16 at 14:51
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    The way the sugar crystals are growing is often referred to as crystal seeding. If it common for all crystals, once one crystal forms, even a small minute one, the additional crystals will grow around it. One reason why heat often will only provide temporary relief and then the crystals will grow back faster the 2nd time is that some seed crystals are missed so the process starts more quickly unless you get all of them. I always learned to melt them using a double boiler method to try to prevent dehydration of the honey, which will also speed the crystallization. – dlb Sep 13 '16 at 15:32

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