Ah, crystallized honey — the nemesis of beekeepers worldwide! From sting-filled days to frigid winters to mites, beekeeping is a challenge. But with certain honey varietals, it's a race against time before it crystalizes right before your eyes! But hold on, this isn't all bad news.
Though not as eye-catching as the syrupy state, there's absolutely nothing wrong with honey solidifying. If you want to know how to keep honey from crystalizing, I've got a crystallized honey fix or two to help you melt it down when you need to. So, let's dig in!
Does Honey Go Bad?
Did you know that honey solidifying is a sure sign of nature's hand in creating it? Also known as granulated or candied honey, the texture and size of the crystal can vary between being cream-like or sand-like based on the nectar source, but it's still raw, unpasteurized, and packed with pollen.
My first big honey purchase from another beekeeper was 25 gallons of goldenrod honey. Connecting with other beekeepers was challenging, given honey's limited supply. After bottling hundreds of jars, I was astonished to see that the honey began to crystallize before my eyes in a matter of minutes. Watching it transform right before me was akin to observing bamboo grow. Within no time, all the jars had solidified.
So, you may be wondering: does honey go bad? Well, the truth is that honey crystallizes over time, which might make you think it's no longer good for consumption. But that's not the case!
In fact, crystallization is a sign that the honey is raw, unpasteurized, and full of pollen. Isn't that amazing? And the best part is that it's all natural. So now you know, next time your honey crystallizes, you can enjoy it without worrying about its quality.
Crystallized honey is less attractive than raw honey in its syrup state. It’s not as sexy, but there’s nothing wrong with it.
What Causes Crystallization?
Natural, raw honey from the hive іѕ a solution made up of monosaccharides, glucose and fructose, and water. The water level should always be lower than 20% and ideally 18%.
This low concentration of water in the solution means that honey is super-saturated with sugars: there are more sugar molecules than the water should be able to dissolve. Because the solution is super-saturated, a natural chemical reaction takes place over time where the sugars separate and return to their original crystalline (sugar) state.
The amount of glucose or fructose prevalent in the nectar of the flowers that the bees pollinate helps to determine how fast it crystallizes. Honey higher in glucose crystallizes very fast. Honey high in fructose will crystalize much slower because the solution is more stable.
How to Keep Honey From Crystalizing
If you put some varietals in the refrigerator, they will crystallize overnight, regardless of how much fructose or glucose it contains. For this reason, don’t refrigerate honey. Keep it in the dark, away from extreme temperatures — your pantry is the best place for it. If you do store it in the fridge, you may have crystallized honey within 24 hours. Again. It’s not bad, honey doesn’t go bad. You simply need to follow the steps below to reconstitute your honey once it has been refrigerated.
Particulates like beeswax bits and pollen naturally occurring in raw and unfiltered honey work like a magnet to the crystallization process. The more particulates, the more opportunities for crystallization.
If you prefer granulated honey but don’t have the patience to let your new jar solidify, you can add a spoonful of crystals to the liquid honey to kick over the process.
Ways to Use Crystallized Honey
Use it in your beauty routine.
Have a blemish? Dab a little crystallized honey on it and help it along in the healing process.
Dry elbows, knees or heels? Apply some of this sandy honey. It's made from plant material; it’s full of antimicrobial qualities it also contains amino acids and micronutrients, all from plants. It helps your skin in ways that you might not imagine.
Gently apply all over your face and rest in a nice warm tub for a few minutes. Rinse off with a washcloth. Honey is a humectant that pulls in water to help balance dry, irritated skin. At our Honey House, we use it as a mixer in our dry masks. Our team and our customers love it. It’s a terrific exfoliant, moisturizer, and nature’s cleanser.
- Cook with it. It’s wonderful to use in a bread recipe or even this Buttermilk Pie from our friends over at Beautiful Mess. We also used it in this cherry cobbler recipe just recently.
- Make a dip with it. This Honey Mustard Sauce is terrific
- Make a simple syrup with honey to use in cocktails.
- Use it in sauces and pesto, where a little texture will improve the recipe.
- Put it in your tea or coffee, and it melts to its original form in no time, with just a quick stir.
- Use it in your oatmeal as you heat it
- Spread it over hot toast or muffins.
- Eat it right off the spoon with chunky peanut butter.
If it’s difficult to remove from the jar, place it in a pan of hot water and allow it to slowly liquify. If you boil the jar it may break the jar or worse, destroy all the raw goodness from the product.
Embrace your candied honey. It’s the result of a process that happens in nature.
Crystallized Honey Fix
Now, if you really need a crystallized honey fix, the good news is that it's very simple:
- Boil enough water in a small pan to cover about half of your honey jar.
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Remove the lid on the jar.
- Place the open jar into the boiled (hot) water and allow it to sit and slowly reconstitute.
- Gently stir taking special care not to get water into the jar
When Life Gives You Lemons...
My gut reaction was to use the crystallized goldenrod honey on my heels, elbows, and knees — and to give myself a facial. My skin never looked better, even though it was some sticky mess. From that point forward, when our honey turned to crystal, we changed the label and sold it at our Original Body Scrub.
Can I Stop Honey Solidifying?
While beekeepers and honey aficionados from all around the world wonder how to keep honey from crystalizing, the truth is it's not possible to completely prevent it.
That said, you can take some measures to slow down the process. Remember to store it in a cool and dry place, as lower temperatures delay crystallization. Additionally, storing it in tightly sealed containers can help prolong its liquid state.
Is Crystallized Honey Less Nutritious?
No! It's not less nutritious than when it's in its liquid form. The nutritional content remains the same regardless of its texture. It contains carbohydrates, enzymes, trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, and antioxidant compounds. However, the crystallized form may have a slightly different texture and can be harder to spread or pour.
Can I Use Granulated Honey in Cooking and Baking?
Absolutely! Crystallized honey is still perfectly suitable for cooking and baking. In fact, some people prefer using it in certain recipes, such as cookies or bread, as it provides a thicker consistency and can enhance the texture of baked goods. You can easily incorporate granulated honey into your recipes by gently heating it or allowing it to dissolve during the cooking process.
Remember, the next time you ask yourself, "Does honey go bad?" it doesn't.
As Eva Crane aptly mentions in her book, A Book of Honey:
"Honey does not go 'bad' as many foods do; it remains wholesome after decades."