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Why Would Anyone Want to Freeze Honey?
Freezing honey is one method of protecting the honey harvest without doing any damage to the product. The best thing about this method of keeping honey fresh is that anyone with a freezer can do it – no special equipment needed. Honey storage is often a major concern for beekeepers who may harvest several boxes of honey during the season. We want to protect all of this hard work done by the bees. Is this a good way for you to keep honey fresh?
At What Temperature Does Honey Freeze?
Well, actually pure raw honey will not freeze solid in the manner of some items. Water freezes into a solid ice cube and there is no disputing that but honey is different.
Much like some other liquids (like molasses), honey become thicker and less viscous as the temperature drops. If you doubt this, I challenge you to try bottling quarts of honey in a cold room in December – this stuff moves slow.
However, in the general term, once honey reaches a temperature of about -4°F (-20°C) it will appear solid. At this temperature it can still move just a bit (like a slow moving glacier) but for our purposes we can consider the honey to be frozen.
Why Honey Does Not Freeze Solid
Ripe honey has a very low moisture content. When the bees are making honey from plant nectar, they remove most of the water. With a moisture content below 20%, honey will not freeze into a solid mass like some materials.
Is Freezing Honey Bad for the Nutritional Quality?
No, freezing honey in a properly controlled method will not harm the nutritional benefits of this product made by bees. The flavor and color of your raw honey will remain in tack until your are ready to thaw and use it.
Freezing Honey Prevents Crystallization
One major benefit of choosing to freeze your honey is to prevent or slow crystallization. Honey never goes bad as long as it is not exposed to moisture.
However, honey will crystallize. This does not mean that your honey is spoiled, however some folks do not prefer to use their honey in this form.
Freezing honey at a stable temperature and protected from moisture will prevent crystallization. Thus, allowing you to thaw and enjoy it in the liquid form.
How to Freeze Honey
Some experts recommend using glass containers when freezing your honey. This is to prevent the absorption of any odors in the plastic or freezer.
But, many people forgo the glass and use the container the honey came in – the choice is yours.
- Place honey in a container with a tight sealing lid – leaving a little headspace to allow for any expansion
- Clean the outside of the container of any drips or stickiness
- Place the honey jar in a clean plastic bag and seal
- Add your honey to the freezer – until you are ready to thaw and use.
Good honey will not expand very much due to the low water content but it is always good practice to allow space.
I put everything in freezer bags, my food, my bee stuff such as fondant, pollen patties, dry pollen substitute etc. It is a good plan to avoid messes.
When you are ready to use your frozen honey, remove from the freezer and let the jar sit in a hot water bath for a few hours.
Freezing Honey in Frames for Storage
There are several reasons that a beekeeper might wish to freeze supers (boxes) of honey. One occasion when freezing honey in frames is useful is during harvest time.
Extracting honey can be a rather messy job and cleaning up the honey house is no fun. If you have a few frames to harvest but expect to have more soon – freezing those honey frames is a great way to protect them.
This allows you to hold part of the harvest until you have more. The capped honey will be fine inside the freezer and remain protected from pests such as wax moths.
If you live in a region with Small Hive Beetles, speedy extraction is a must. Any hive beetle eggs in the frames will hatch in just a few days and destroy your harvest of unprotected honeycomb.
Storing Excess Honey in the Freezer
Another reason beekeepers store honey in the freezer is to save it for next year. If a colony has perished, or the beekeeper ends up with extra frames of honey for any reason, these are very valuable to give to a new colony in the Spring.
Frames of honey that are stored over Winter should be capped. Uncapped honey is okay in the freezer but the honey may ooze out before it freezes and then you have a big old mess. Don’t ask me how I know this.
If you want to keep frames of uncapped honey in the freezer, be sure to place each one in a plastic bag or wrap it with plastic wrap before adding it to the freezer.
Storing Small Amount of Frozen Honey
If you are someone who rarely uses honey, (perish the thought), try using an ice cube tray to freeze small portions of honey. Once frozen, the cubes can be stored in zip lock bags.
This will allow you to have small portions of honey on hand for use in honey recipes or using for homemade cough relief.
Final Thoughts on Freezing Honey
Even though we have seen that honey does not actually freeze solid, it is a good method to use for long term honey storage.
While most people will not need to store honey in the freezer it can be done. If you have a bumper crop and want to protect it for a long time freezing honey may be an option.