After you have extracted your honey and kept it in its container, you are ready to consume and/ or sell it, whichever of the two you might want to do. However, there are some instances wherein wrong storage conditions will lead the honey to crystalize, which happens when it hardens. This can make honey more difficult to eat or sell in its crystallized form. So, in that regard, how do you stop honey from crystalizing?
You can stop honey from crystalizing by keeping it stored at room temperature or as long as the temperatures don’t go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep honey out of the refrigerator as much as possible. Meanwhile, exposing crystalized honey to warmer temperatures will make it return to its liquid form.
If your honey ends up crystallizing, it’s going to be more difficult for you to use it. However, don’t think that it’s the end of the world when your honey does indeed crystalize. That’s because there are still remedies you can make use of to make your honey usable again. So, let’s get to know more about how to stop honey from crystalizing.
Why does my honey keep crystallizing?
One of the problems that beginner beekeepers tend to face after they have completed harvesting and then extracting their honey is the storage conditions in which honey should be stored, so that it stays at its best. And the reason why this is such a problem for many beginner beekeepers and even for those who are already experienced in the field is that honey will end up crystalizing when the storage conditions are not right.
But what is crystallization in honey? Crystallization in honey happens when the honey begins to harden and form crystals from the liquid form of honey that you are probably more familiar with. So, basically, honey becomes too hard in its crystallized form that it can be more difficult for you to use it properly whenever you want to use your honey for your food or drinks. Of course, if you are planning on selling honey, people probably won’t buy crystallized honey.
So, if you do notice that the honey you keep in your home does indeed crystalize more often than not, you might be wondering why that happens. For starters, you should understand the basic chemistry behind honey so that you can see why it easily crystalizes.
Honey is composed of about 70% sugar and less than 20% water. Meanwhile, the sugar honey is composed of is a combination of glucose and fructose. Fructose is the type of sugar that is easily soluble in water while glucose doesn’t dissolve as quickly and as easily as fructose does. So, because honey is only less than 20% water, what happens here is that the glucose may end up crystalizing when there is only so much water that can keep the sugars dissolved.
The two main reasons why honey can crystalize are temperature conditions and the ratio of fructose and glucose found in honey.
So, if you were to keep honey stored in a room or a spot that has temperatures that may end up going below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or about 10 degrees Celsius, the glucose that was barely dissolved in the honey’s water content will end up forming crystals as a result of the cold temperature. This can easily happen when you store your honey in the refrigerator or if you forgot to turn the heat on in your house during the middle of the winter.
Meanwhile, even if you did not keep your honey stored in a place that is cold, there is still a good chance that it will end up crystalizing when the glucose in the honey far exceeds its fructose content. It can be difficult to know which type of honey has a higher or lower glucose content because it still depends on the flowers where the bees got the nectar from. Whatever the case may be, honey that is lower in glucose and higher in fructose is more resistant to crystallization.
In some cases, the presence of pollen in honey that was unfiltered can cause crystallization to happen. This is because there will be more particles for the crystals to build on. As such, fresh raw honey that is yet to be filtered is more prone to crystallization due to the presence of pollen.
How to prevent raw honey from crystallizing
Now that you know why honey crystallizes and what causes honey to crystalize, the next thing you need to know to make sure that you don’t find your honey going through the inconvenience we call crystallization is to make sure that you know how to prevent raw honey from crystallizing. And, more often than not, it all boils down to how you bottle and store your honey.
After you have extracted your honey, you may want to filter it so that you can remove any pollen that may be on the honey. While honey with pollen is great, the pollen can indeed increase the chances of crystallization in your honey. So, if you don’t want your honey to crystalize, it is best to make sure that you filter out the pollen before bottling.
From there, while you are bottling your honey, the key here is to make sure that you maintain a steady heat that is about 104 degrees Fahrenheit but not too hot. The reason why we need to maintain steady heat is to prevent the honey from rapidly cooling down while we are bottling. And the reason why you shouldn’t go over 140 degrees Fahrenheit is that anything hotter than that will cook honey when it is exposed to such temperatures for about two hours.
After bottling, you can provide mild heat treatment to your honey by exposing it to temperatures over 140 degrees (such as by keeping it in the oven). The purpose of doing so is to expel any air bubbles and to dissolve smaller crystals that can end up becoming bigger later on when you store your honey. However, it is important that you make sure that you only expose your honey to mild heat treatment for a few minutes because keeping it in hot temperatures will eventually cook it.
When storing your honey, keep it in airtight containers that are water-safe. This is to ensure that moisture doesn’t seep into your honey and cause all sorts of problems aside from the possibility that crystallization might happen.
The most important part of it all is the storage part because this is what ultimately dictates whether or not your honey will crystalize. But, before that, what you need to know is that all types of honey will indeed crystalize as time passes. Still, the way you store your honey will slow down the process of crystallization to the point that it would take a very long time for honey to crystalize.
That said, keeping your honey at room temperature is the most ideal way to make sure that it doesn’t crystalize. Do not store your honey in places that will expose it to temperatures that are lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. This is why it is never recommended that you keep your honey stored in the refrigerator because of how cold the fridge can be. At the same time, if you live in a cold region, keeping your honey in a cold cupboard can be a bad idea as well.
Probably the best place for you to store honey is just somewhere on the kitchen counter or in the pantry. As long as your honey isn’t exposed to cold temperatures, it will be okay. Always keep the temperatures somewhere near room temperature to prevent honey from crystallizing. Also, when it’s the winter and the temperatures get a little too cold, make sure that you turn the heat up a bit so that your honey doesn’t crystalize.
It is also worthy to note that it might not be the best idea for you to keep your honey in an area that is warm and is exposed to direct sunlight. That’s because exposing honey to a heat source may end up allowing bacteria to incubate and build up over time. And, aside from that, it might also end up cooking raw honey over time as well.
That’s why keeping your honey at room temperature and far away from any drafts and direct sources of heat is ideal to not only prevent it from crystallizing but also keep its quality at the highest possible.
Is there a way to turn crystallized honey back to liquid honey?
When you did indeed make the mistake of storing your honey in the wrong storage conditions such as a cold place like the refrigerator or if your honey just naturally crystalized for one reason or another, don’t think that it’s the end of the world or that your honey is no longer viable. The truth is that you can still turn things back to normal by turning your honey back into its liquid form. So, in a sense, it is very much possible to reverse the process of crystallization.
We have two different methods that you may want to use if you want to turn crystallized honey back to its liquid form.
Method 1: Direct heat exposure
This is the most straightforward way of turning your crystallized honey back to its liquid form because it basically only involves exposing the honey to a direct heat source that isn’t too hot but is warm enough to eventually make sure that the honey liquefies. However, this applies only to places that aren’t too cold or whenever it’s the warmer seasons.
- Start off by looking for a window sill or spot in the house where the honey can get exposed directly to sunlight.
- Place the jar of honey in that spot so that the heat of the sun is directed towards it. The dome shape of the glass jar will act as a magnifying glass that will magnify the heat of the sun.
- Leave the jar of crystallized honey in that spot for as long as it takes. It might take a lot of hours or even a few days for the honey to return to its liquid form once again.
Method 2: Hot water
Method 2 involves making use of hot water to speed up the liquification process of your crystalized honey. This is faster in comparison to leaving the honey to get exposed to direct sunlight but it might still take a few hours or so for this entire process to complete.
Start off by boiling a pot of water.
- Once the water starts to boil, remove it from the heat source. If you have a kitchen thermometer, check if the water has started to cool down below 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to keep it under 140 degrees because anything over 140 degrees will cook the raw honey.
- When the water has cooled a bit to under 140 degrees, place the jar of crystallized honey inside the pot of water. Let the hot water do its magic until it steadily liquefies the crystallized honey.
- While you are waiting, you can begin to boil another pot of water again. That’s because it might take a while for the honey to liquefy such that you may need to replace the hot water in the pot once it has begun to cool down.
- This entire process may take a few hours to complete but it is faster than simply allowing the sun to heat up and liquefy the crystallized honey.
When you are trying to bring your crystallized honey back to its liquid form, avoid using the microwave. That’s because the microwave can reach high enough temperatures that will cook your raw honey. You don’t want your honey to end up getting cooked while you are heating it back to its liquid form. The goal here is to make sure that the heat source isn’t over 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to fix crystallized honey in plastic
If you are trying to fix crystallized honey that is stored in a plastic container, you can use any of the methods we stated above. That’s because, while plastic can indeed melt when exposed to high temperatures, the temperatures needed for liquefying crystallized honey won’t be enough to melt a plastic honey container.
So, as long as you are not exposing your honey and its plastic container to temperatures that can melt plastic, you can make use of any of the methods we stated above. Of course, if you end up using heat sources that are too hot, you are not only going to cook your raw honey but you are also going to melt the plastic container, which will most likely mix in together with your liquid honey. You don’t want to end up consuming cooked honey mixed with plastic.
Is it okay to eat honey that has crystallized?
The usual perception is that crystallized honey has gone bad or is no longer viable. However, such a perception is extremely wrong because crystallization has only allowed the honey to change its form but not its viability. As such, crystallized honey is still very much edible and viable to the point that you can do a lot of different things with it.
What you are going to notice about crystallized honey is that it’s going to be difficult to use it in a solidified form because you can no longer simply pour it in your drink or mix it with a marinade whenever you are cooking your favorite dish. So, in a sense, the crystallization process has only made it more difficult for you to use your honey, but it did not make it impossible for you to consume it. You can still consume it in a lot of different ways.
A good way for you to consume your crystallized honey is to mix it together with a hot drink such as coffee or tea. Adding the crystallized honey to a hot drink will eventually soften the honey up and allow it to mix with the rest of the hot drink. So, in a sense, it hardly differs from liquid honey in terms of how you use it when you are adding it to a hot drink.
If the crystallized honey has retained a bit of its liquid form in the sense that you can still spread it, you can add it with your favorite food such as a toasted bagel or your morning oats. It won’t mix well in comparison to liquid honey, but the crystallized form will allow you to bite into chunks of solid sugar that will explode with sweetness in your mouth as you break into it.
Crystallized honey is also good together with yogurt or soft-serve ice cream. As you are eating your yogurt or ice cream, you can take chunks out of the crystallized honey and it together with your dairy so that you can get explosions of sweetness with every bite.
The point here is that crystallized honey has not gone bad but has only made it difficult for you to use it. Still, as long as you are creative enough with your approach, there are a lot of different ways for you to make use of crystallized honey. Just don’t throw it away if you are too lazy to liquefy it once again.