Veteran beekeepers know for a fact that harvesting and extracting honey are not the final parts of the entire honey harvesting process. That’s because you have to make sure that you know how to store your honey properly so that you can have it last for a very long time in the best condition and quality possible. So, do you need to refrigerate raw honey? Or is there another way for you to properly store it?
You don’t have to refrigerate honey. In fact, most experts say that it would be a bad idea for you to keep your raw honey refrigerated because of how it will harden and crystalize, which will make it more difficult to use. The key here is to make sure you store raw honey away from heat and moisture.
While we often think about refrigerating different kinds of foods whenever we want them to last for a long time, refrigerating raw honey tends to be something that most people avoid because of how doing so is just unnecessary. In fact, honey is better off stored at room temperature and under the right conditions. So, in relation to that, we are here to discuss why you shouldn’t refrigerate raw honey and how you should store it.
Do you need to refrigerate raw honey?
The life of a beekeeper is usually an endless cycle of taking care of their bees and harvesting the honey from the hives. After harvesting the honey, the next thing that beekeepers need to do is to extract the honey so that it can be further processed into a form that is safe for consumption. But that isn’t where the entire process ends.
Yes, that’s right. The process doesn’t end after extracting and bottling your honey. Instead, you need to make sure that you actually store your honey the right way so that it will stay in the best condition possible regardless of whether you are keeping the honey for personal consumption or are selling it later on for some profit.
In that regard, do you need to refrigerate raw honey? After all, we are so used to refrigerating a lot of different foods regardless of whether or not they have been opened. That’s because most types of foods need to be refrigerated, because the cold temperature allows them to last longer without getting spoiled. In that regard, the purpose of refrigerating food is to actually lengthen their life and to prevent them from getting spoiled fast because of how the warmer room temperature can easily speed up bacteria buildup.
However, what you do need to know about honey is that this is a type of food that will never spoil as long as you make sure that you store it properly. In fact, honey has been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs but was still edible after 3,000 years, primarily because of how it was stored in a place that allows it to last indefinitely. As such, honey is one of the longest-lasting foods in the world and will almost never spoil as long as it is stored in the best possible conditions. You can even have honey that was harvested decades ago but is still good to consume.
So, because honey does not spoil, there is no need for you to place it in the refrigerator, which serves as a way for you to prevent your food from spoiling. In fact, beekeepers will even tell you that a refrigerator is one of the worst places you can store your raw honey because of something that we call crystallization.
You have to understand what honey is made of. Like most natural sweeteners, raw honey is made of sugars that are pollen-based. In that regard, because of the high pollen content, cold temperatures can easily crystalize the sugars found in raw honey. When crystallization happens, your raw honey will be harder and much more difficult to use.
In that regard, to avoid crystallization, it is better for you to make sure that you do not store your honey in the refrigerator at all. The secret here is to know how to properly store honey so that you won’t even think about putting it in the refrigerator at all. But what are the ideal conditions for storing honey?
Well, the ideal conditions for raw honey storage really are quite simple. As long as you keep the honey in a place that is cool but not too cold and is away from direct heat and moisture, then that will already be good enough for your honey to last quite long. That’s why honey stored in Egyptian tombs lasted for a very long time as being locked in a place with no exposure to sunlight or warmth and zero moisture for thousands of years was quite ideal for those jars of honey.
The reason why you shouldn’t expose honey to heat is that doing so can allow bacteria to incubate and grow because certain micro-organisms tend to spread and multiply rapidly when exposed to heat. That’s why it is best to keep your honey away from direct sunlight. And if you happen to live in a pretty warm region, find the coolest place to keep your honey such as the kitchen pantry.
Of course, moisture can also be the enemy of honey because it allows mold and mildew, and other micro-organisms to grow on your honey. That is why keeping your honey in a safe and dry place is ideal for it to last quite long.
Does raw honey have to be refrigerated after opening?
Now that you know that you don’t have to refrigerate raw honey to store it properly, you might be wondering if you need to refrigerate it right after opening a jar of honey. After all, a lot of different products can be stored at room temperature so long as they haven’t been opened. But once they have already been opened, air and other micro-organisms have already made their way into the container and will only grow and multiply when exposed to room temperature conditions. That is why some food items need to be stored in the refrigerator once they have been opened, so as to slow down the growth of bacteria that can cause the food to spoil.
However, as mentioned, because honey does not go bad and will not spoil as long as it is kept in the ideal conditions, you don’t even need to keep it in the refrigerator once you have opened a jar of honey. You can be sure that bacteria and other micro-organisms won’t end up building up in your honey, even if you don’t store it in the refrigerator. As long as you have done your part in keeping your honey stored in the proper conditions, you will find that it really isn’t difficult to store honey at all.
Moreover, as mentioned, storing a jar of opened honey in a fridge will only end up causing crystallization, which happens when honey is exposed to cold temperatures and the sugars in the honey harden. Crystalized honey will only be very difficult for you to use because, after all, it is in a hardened state that will make it hard for anyone to do anything with it.
What happens if my honey crystalizes?
We have talked about how storing honey in your refrigerator can cause crystallization. However, what happens if your honey crystallizes because you made the mistake of storing it in a refrigerator? What can you do if it has already crystallized? Does that mean that you can no longer use your crystalized honey?
Nothing will happen to your honey if it crystalizes. In fact, crystallization can be perfectly normal as honey gets exposed to cold temperatures on a regular basis even in the beehives when the bees fail to keep the hive warm and some of the honey they stored for the winter crystalizes as a result of the cold winter temperatures. This can also happen in households, even if you don’t store honey in the refrigerator, especially during extremely cold winters when even a heater will struggle to keep things warm.
So, when honey crystallizes, it only makes it more difficult for you to use because it has entered into a hardened state that will be difficult to remove from the jar. This, however, doesn’t mean that honey is no longer edible or viable because you can still consume crystalized honey safely. It’s only that it’s going to be very difficult for you to use it in that state.
But what can you do with crystallized honey? Can you still find a way for it to return to that golden liquefied form that is easier to use? If so, what can you do for honey to become liquid again after it has crystalized?
Well, for starters, if you did make the mistake of putting your honey in the refrigerator and it has crystalized, you don’t need to panic because all you need to do is to place the honey somewhere that is quite warm and exposed to direct sunlight. Just wait until the crystalized honey is once again liquid. But that can take up some time if you need to use your honey right away.
So, if you don’t have natural light in your house, especially if it’s in the middle of winter or if you live in a colder region, or if you are simply looking for a quick way to liquefy your honey once again, there is an easy way for you to do so.
All you need to do is to heat up some water on a broiler or in a kettle pot. Once the water has boiled, remove it from the heat source and allow the water to settle before throwing the jar of honey into the water. From there, all you need to do is to wait for your raw honey to return to its liquid form once again.
However, keep in mind here that your goal is for the raw honey to stay raw. Allowing it to sit in the hot water or out in an area where it is exposed to the sun can pasteurize it and kill all of the healthy nutrients found in raw honey. You are essentially cooking the honey in such scenarios. That’s why you can’t keep your crystalized honey in the heat source for a long time.
But the good news here is that honey can reach warm temperatures of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit without getting cooked. In that regard, even if your honey gets heated to temperatures close to 120 degrees, it is still considered raw. So, in that case, if you intend on using the hot water method, make sure that you have a kitchen thermometer that you can use to tell how hot the water is. Once the water has dropped 120 degrees, that is when it is safe for you to throw in the jar of crystallized honey in the water.
The microwave should be out of the question here because microwave temperatures can get really hot quickly to the point that it will cook or pasteurize crystallized raw honey. That’s why using the hot water method is the better way for you to liquefy crystalized honey, even if such a method might take a while to bring your raw honey back to its liquid form.
Can honey be stored at room temperature?
At this point, you are now probably wondering what the optimal temperature is for honey to be stored. In that regard, room temperature is actually good enough for honey storage because of how such conditions aren’t too hot or too cold for honey to be stored in.
But what exactly is room temperature? Well, it really depends because there are many definitions of what room temperature is. In some cases, room temperature is somewhere between 68 to 72 degrees F while others may describe room temperature as 59 to 77 degrees F.
Regardless of what room temperature may be, the key thing to remember here is that honey is ideally stored in room temperatures that are neither too cold nor too warm. So, even if you describe room temperature as 59 to 77 degrees F, any temperature that falls within that scale can already be good enough for honey.
As such, just make sure that the room is neither too cold nor too warm. But that can vary depending on the seasons. If your heater isn’t working well enough to keep room temperatures above 59 degrees during winter, it is best to find the warmest spot in your home and store your honey there. Meanwhile, if the summer gets too hot and your air-conditioning struggles to keep the temperatures under 77 degrees, make sure to find the coolest place to store your honey as long as you don’t store it in the refrigerator.
Again, because room temperatures can vary, the key here is to use your common sense and to store your honey in spots that are neither too cold nor too hot. As long as you are doing so, you are already storing honey in an ideal spot with ideal temperatures.
How long can honey be stored at room temperature?
As mentioned, when you store honey under the right conditions, it can be stored there indefinitely. In short, there is no time limit as to how long you can store your honey when the conditions are right. And when it comes to the right conditions, room temperature fits the bill.
So, in that regard, as long as you are storing your honey at room temperature and that the temperatures stay consistent, you don’t have to worry about how long honey will last because it will never spoil when stored at room temperature. This is why it is perfectly fine for you to not keep honey in the refrigerator because room temperature is already perfectly fine.
How long does raw honey last after opening?
What if you have already opened raw honey? How long will it last? Well, opened raw honey doesn’t differ when compared to unopened raw honey. Just like unopened raw honey, as long as you are storing opened raw honey under the right conditions, it will last indefinitely and even for more than an entire lifetime.
As such, you don’t need to worry about whether or not you need to refrigerate your honey once it has already been opened. Raw honey will last indefinitely and will not spoil as long as you keep it stored in the right conditions.
How do you store raw honey after opening?
Lastly, how do you store raw honey after opening? Well, you will be happy to know that there is no difference between the storage conditions of unopened and opened raw honey. The key here is to make sure that you are storing your opened raw honey in room temperatures that are neither too cold nor too hot.
And make sure that you keep your opened honey from direct heat or sunlight and in a place that is away from moisture. As such, something similar to a pantry or even the kitchen counter will be good enough as long as your honey is away from direct sunlight and drafts.