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Can You Freeze Honey?

Honey is a wonderful food product especially in the raw state. With an incredibly long shelf life, you should never have to throw it away. However, there may be some situations where you might like to know that you can freeze honey. More commonly used as a storage strategy for beekeepers, anyone with a freezer can take advantage of this technique.

What Happens if You Freeze Honey

Frame of honey ready to store in freezer image.

Actually pure raw honey will not freeze solid in the manner of some items.  Water freezes into a solid ice cube but honey is different.

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When you put liquid honey in the freezer, it becomes a very thick slurry. This is a perfectly wonderful way to store any that is not needed for a while. Of course, it is not necessary in most cases.

Why Honey Does Not Freeze Solid

Bees collect plant nectar and convert it into honey. Most of the water content is removed. This is why pure honey lasts forever – as long as it is protected from moisture.

When the conversion process is finished, we call this “ripe honey”. Nectar with an average moisture content of 80% has now become honey with a water content below 20%. With a moisture content that low, honey will not freeze into a solid mass like some materials.

Freezing Protects Nutritional Quality and Texture

Not only does freezing not harm any nutritional benefits, it protects nutrients.  When it is stored for a long time, honey remains good but the color may darken.

In variety types of honey, the flavor can change a bit with storage. I have seen this happen in my Sourwood. It still tastes good but the flavor doesn’t pop quite as much as when freshly harvested.

The flavor and color of your raw honey will remain intact in the freezer until you are ready to thaw and use it.

Freezing Prevents Crystallization

One major benefit of choosing to freeze your honey is to prevent or slow crystallization.  This is a natural process but some people do not prefer the texture.

Crystallized honey is not spoiled as long as it was ripe when processed. And some people love it, choosing to make their own creamed honey to enjoy plain or with added flavors.

But, the majority of consumers want to keep their table honey in a liquid state. Freezing honey at a stable temperature will prevent crystallization.  Thus, allowing you to thaw and enjoy it just the way you want.

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It is important to keep in mind that honey will go through a process called fermentation if the water content is too high. This is why we want to store it in an air tight container protected from moist air.

Jar of honey with crystals forming inside image.

At What Temperature Does Honey Freeze?

Much like some other liquids (like molasses), honey becomes thicker and less viscous as the temperature drops

If you doubt this, I challenge you to try bottling quarts of your harvest in a cold room in December – this stuff moves slow.

However, in general, the freezing point of honey is 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 does not flow.

How to Freeze Honey

Some experts recommend using glass jars for freezer storage. This is to prevent the absorption of any odors in the plastic or freezer.  But, others forgo the glass and use the container it came in – the choice is yours.

  1. Fill a container (with a tight sealing lid) – leaving a little headspace to allow for any expansion
  2. Clean the outside of the container of any drips or stickiness
  3. Place the container in a clean plastic bag and seal
  4. Add to the freezer – until you are ready to thaw and use.

It should 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.

Keep the product at a constant temperature (avoid temperature fluctuations) until you are ready to use it. Then, remove from the freezer and let the jar sit in a bowl of warm water for a few hours.

Freezing Honey in Frames for Storage

Storage is often a major concern for beekeepers who may harvest several boxes during the season. We want to protect all of this hard work done by the bees.

There are several reasons that a beekeeper might wish to freeze supers (boxes).  One occasion when freezing in frames is useful is during harvest time.

Extracting 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 frames is a great way to protect them.

This allows you to hold part of the harvest until you have more.  It 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 into larvae in just a few days and destroy your harvest of unprotected honeycomb.

Fresh frames of honey ready to freeze for storage image.

Storing Excess Honeycomb for Bees

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 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 it 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 Amounts

But, you don’t have to be a beekeeper to take advantage of this storage technique. If you are someone who rarely uses honey, (perish the thought), try using an ice cube tray to freeze small portions. Once frozen, the cubes can be stored in zip lock bags.

This will allow you to have small portions on hand for use in honey recipes or using for homemade cough relief.

If you enjoy honeycomb, freezing it works very well. Cut the comb into small pieces and wrap each one tightly with aluminum foil. When you are ready to use, remove from freezer and let it come to room temperature.

Even though we have seen that it does not actually freeze solid, it is a good method to use for long-term storage.

While most people will not need to store honey in the freezer it can be done. If you have a bumper crop, this is an option to protect it for a very long time.