One telltale sign it's been a while since you've last dipped into the hunny jar: it starts to become murky, cloudy, aka crystallized honey. Although the sight may be a little, er, alarming, you can rest assured knowing that it's actually really NBD. (And the pricey jar of longevity-boosting Ikarian honey you picked up over the summer is still totally edible. Phew.) "Honey can become cloudy, crystallized or solidified but this is not a safety concern," the USDA says. So, that means even the old, half-empty jar of honey you found in your pantry, hidden behind a box of raisins (why?) and an empty box of crackers, is still fully edible, even if it's crystallized. Of course, this is all really great news and all, but how do you fix crystallized honey? Ahead we're sharing easy tips for turning honey back into *liquid* gold.
- Ted Dennard, founder, president, and head beekeeper of Savannah Bee Company
So, why does honey crystallize in the first place?
According to Ted Dennard, the founder, president, and head beekeeper of Savannah Bee Company, crystallization is a natural process for honey that doesn't signify that the quality of the batch is any lesser than any other or contain additives of any kind. So, does the quality of honey affect its crystallization? Nope. "It does not mean that the honey has been adulterated or had sugar added. All honeys have different sugar compositions—some of them granulate very quickly, some of them very slowly or not at all, rarely," Dennard says. This can also be influenced by the type of flowering plants and nectar the bees fed from, as some plant varieties can contain higher sugar contents than others.
That said, there are other factors that can also speed up the honey crystallization process. For context, each sugar crystal needs a starting point to commence the crystallization formation. "If there is something inside the honey that gives the crystal a place to grow, for example some kind of spur off of the plastic or some solid material within the honey, that can cause crystallization to start. Once it begins, it keeps going," Dennard says. This will typically occur when high levels of glucose dissolve in the honey solution, separating from the liquids, which is an optimal environment for crystals to form. (Note: This also means the higher glucose levels in the honey in the first place, the higher the chances that it'll crystallize.)
Another factor at play? Temperature. The temperature you store honey at can also affect the pace of this process—Dennard says temperatures around 57ºF makes honey crystallize faster. However, researchers have also found that below 39ºF, glucose molecules aren't moving as much; meanwhile, at 77ºF or above, glucose molecules will likely remain a solution. Ultimately, some bee experts agree that the sweet spot (pun intended) for storing honey is at room temperature, somewhere between 64-75ºF.
Benefits of crystallized honey
In truth, crystalized honey benefits are not too dissimilar (if at all) to the Manuka honey benefits you'd get from a non-crystallized jar. Think of it like water in ice vs. liquid form. Ultimately, both are still plain ol' water. Dennard also adds that crystallized honey is the way many people in the world eat honey. In fact, one of Savannah Bee Company's best-selling products is Whipped Honey, which is made by controlling crystallization to create a honey that has a creamy, spreadable texture similar to peanut butter and comes in a variety of delicious flavors, including Pumpkin Spice Whipped Honey ($8) and Whipped Honey with Chocolate ($7).
How do you decrystallize honey?
If crystallized honey isn't your jam, you can easily return it to its liquid form with a few simple steps. According to Dennard, one of the easiest methods for reverting crystallized honey is by gently heating it up. "The best way to do that is in a double boiler with warm water around 100ºF to 110ºF," he says. Be (bee?) patient and let it completely liquefy—any crystals that are left behind provide a foundation for other crystals to grow back, he adds. Although, running the sealed jar under warm water for a few minutes will do the trick in a pinch. And, remember to gently move the jar around to ensure the heat is evenly distributed so the crystals can uniformly melt.
Another way to melt crystallized honey? Microwaving it. However, according to a recent TikTok video by a beekeeper who goes by @bowserbee on the platform, you'll want to keep a watchful eye on how hot its getting. According to them, overheating the honey can cause it to lose some of its natural flavors and turn bitter.
On that note: how many times can you decrystallize honey? Since drastic changes in temperature (going from hot to cold several times) changes the composition of the honey, it's important to try and keep the amount of times you decrystallize honey to a minimum. An easy remedy? Simply heat up only the amount of crystallized honey you intend on using at a time to avoid over-exposing the entire jar to temperature changes over and over again.
@bowserbee Replying to @iberodger Decrystallizing Honey #fyp #foryou #beekeeper #beetok #learnontiktok #honey ♬ original sound - Bowser
Honey storage tips
As we previously noted, keeping your batch at room temperature is the way to go for storing honey. However, there are a few other things to keep in mind to keep your liquid gold in tip-top shape. First and foremost, always keep your honey stored in a sealed container to avoid external pollutants from contaminating the pure honey. Then, you'll want to ensure you're using the right type of container. A glass mason jar with a tightly-sealed lid is ideal, like this Glass Honey Jar with a Dipper, that's available on Amazon ($18).
But not just any container will do. The type of material it's made of matters, too. Ultimately, metal or non-food-safe plastic aren't the best options for storing it, as they can potentially cause the delicate honey to oxidize. Lastly, you'll want to keep your honey in a cool spot in your kitchen away from areas that are prone to getting too much sunlight or exposure to heat. This means that near a windowsill, by a hot stove, or near the back of a refrigerator likely aren't your best bets. Instead, a cool, dry cupboard or pantry are great options.
TL;DR? Of course, if your honey does end up crystallizing, it's nothing to lose sleep over. Indeed, your liquid gold is still safe, good to use, and packed with a bevy of benefits. Anyone in the need of some honey for a sore throat?
Here's everything to know about honey—and all the other forms of sugar out there:
- Samarghandian, Saeed et al. “Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research.” Pharmacognosy research vol. 9,2 (2017): 121-127. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.204647
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