How many times have you gone out and purchased quality honey only to head into your cupboard and find it completely full of unwanted crystals? Unfortunately, this can be one of the most devastating, but common, problems that all honey lovers will have to face at some point or another.
Honey is an oversaturated sugar solution. It naturally contains around 70% sugar and less than 20% water. This means that over time, not all of the sugar molecules will be able to be absorbed into the liquid, and so crystallization starts.
However, while you might think that this means that your honey has gone bad, this isn’t at all the case. In fact, the crystallization process actually helps to keep all the nutrients that make honey amazing sealed tightly in the bottle, as well as maintain the quality of the honey for years at a time.
However, if you’re looking to have smooth and luxurious honey, day in and day out, there are certain steps you can take that will help prevent these crystals from forming, as well as returning your honey to the way it was when you bought it after crystals start to form. Here are the top tips that can help you get this world-class honey every time starting today.
Honey is a highly oversaturated solution of sugar and water. This means that there is too much sugar dissolved in the water so it can’t hold all of it for a long period of time.
As more time passes, the sugar separates from the water causing crystals to form in the honey.
The two main sugars in honey are fructose and glucose. Glucose is the sugar that separates from the water, so the more glucose in the honey, the quicker it will separate and crystalize.
Different kinds of honey crystallize in different ways. Some will completely crystallize and others will only form a layer on the top or bottom of the jar with the liquid honey taking up the rest of the jar.
It’s absolutely okay to use honey that’s crystallized. In fact, some people prefer to use their honey that way. It’s easier to spread because of the thicker texture and the flavor is sometimes more pronounced and clear.
Honey that crystalized quickly will have a smoother texture because the crystals that are formed are smaller. Slower crystalizing honey has a more granular and crunchy texture.
Can you decrystallize honey? Once you have the honey in your storage area, you might think that there’s really nothing more you can do to change the consistency. Luckily, this is far from the truth. In fact, with just a little bit of heat, you can end up with the smoothest and most beautiful golden honey you’ve ever seen.
The process is relatively simple. If your honey is stored in a glass jar, you’re already off to a good start, if not, make sure you transfer all of your honey to a completely sterilized glass container, such as a preserving jar.
At this point, you’ll want to take your honey and place it in a pot that’s been filled to about two-thirds of the way up the jar. Remove the lid from your jars and start to slowly heat up the water on your stove, but make sure it does not go up to a boiling point.
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While your honey is heating up, make sure you stir the contents every few minutes so that you’re able to break apart any of the crystals that have formed along the way.
Of course, while you stir, make sure you don’t get any water into the honey as this could ruin the quality. Once all the crystals have been dealt with, remove the honey from the water and tightly seal your jar. You’ll now be able to store your honey in a dry, cool space and it won’t crystallize again for a while.
The best way to soften honey is the way that’s listed above. If you apply direct heat to a container of honey, you run the risk of burning the honey and ruining it.
Keeping it soft is a matter of properly storing the honey.
Microwaving honey doesn’t necessarily ruin it, but it can ruin some of the flavor, texture, and nutrients.
Another important factor that can help prevent honey from crystallizing in the first place is proper storage. Honey does well in warm areas, preferably at or above room temperature and in a glass jar. Plastic is more porous than glass so it gradually allows air in which will accelerate the crystallization.
If you’re worried about crystallization, keep your honey in the pantry instead of in a cool basement that’s normally recommended when storing food for long term food storage.
Generally speaking, you want your honey to be kept above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower, such as a cold basement, refrigerator, or freezer will result in fast crystallization.
Freezing honey lets you get it to a creamy texture because of all the crystals that form. You can then scoop it out and let it get to room temperature so it can spread more easily.
Honey can freeze completely if it’s brought to a temperature that’s low enough. Most home freezers don’t go low enough to solidly freeze honey so it usually will just really thick and crystallized.
Follow these steps to freeze honey:
- Close the honey jar or bottle completely so no air or moisture can enter the container. Leave space at the top of the jar so the honey has room to expand as it freezes.
- Check for spills on the container and clean them off.
- Place your container in a freezer-safe storage bag. This helps keep the honey from absorbing new odors from items in the freezer. The bag also helps to contain any mess if the stored honey leaks out.
- Put your honey in the freezer. Frozen honey can be stored indefinitely. This makes freezing a good method to store honey long term.
Honey does essentially last forever as long as nothing strange has been introduced to it. Even adding water can increase the likelihood of honey going bad.
Strained honey has had all of the leftover pollen and other particulates from the hive removed. This makes it purer and less likely to spoil than raw honey.
According to the National Institutes of Health, honey contains natural antimicrobial properties that inhibit their growth. Honey is actually full of microbes but they don’t grow into a poisonous mess because the keeps them in check.
When honey is heated to a temperature of only 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the most noticeable change is a loss of probiotics and enzymes.
This can allow microbes to grow in honey that otherwise wouldn’t be able to. The good thing is as long as there isn’t anything that’s obviously wrong with the honey, then you should still be fine to eat it…almost forever.
When it comes to crystalized honey, one of the most important preventative factors will be the actual initial storage phase. You need to make sure you’re purchasing your honey from a vendor that takes serious pride in what they do and who cares deeply about the quality of the honey they sell.
You will be able to note this by taking a look at the type of container they provide, as well as asking them about the process.
The honey should be stored in airtight and waterproof bottles to guarantee the quality of the product. If you can find a quality vendor, you can be sure you’ll end up with beautiful honey each and every time.
Raw honey is honey that has been strained to remove dead bees and honeycomb but it hasn’t been pasteurized or otherwise treated in any way. Raw honey has more nutrients in it than treated honey so it’s popular among people looking to add honey to their diet for the health effects.
Raw honey can contain the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria is especially harmful to babies or children under the age of one. However, botulism is very rare among healthy adults and older children. As the body ages, the gut develops enough to stop the botulinum spores from growing.
If you experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea soon after eating raw honey, you should see a doctor right away.
Honey can be one of the most enjoyable sweets out there, but having to deal with crystals can really put a damper on things. However, a few crystals don’t have to be the end of your honey. Keep these tips in mind and make sure you have world-class quality honey every time you find yourself in need starting today.