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Decrystallizing Honey and Keeping It Raw
Upon finding a jar of solid, gritty honey , you may think it has spoiled. No, your honey has crystallized. This is a normal occurrence for honey but you can reverse the process. Learn how to decrystallize honey the right way and retain all of the beneficial properties of raw honey.
If you are a long-time consumer of raw honey, I am sure you have experienced times it has “turned to sugar”. This is the common slang term for crystallized honey.
This is a natural process of most varieties of raw honey. Some nectar sources do it quickly and others can take years. It is not a sign that your honey has spoiled.
However, if you prefer the liquid form, you can decrystallize honey without destroying it’s raw properties.
This is important because most of us consume raw honey because for its nutritional benefits. Raw honey is alive with enzymes, antioxidants, pollen and other natural goodies.
Over heating honey in an attempt to return it to a liquid form could damage some of its nutritional value.
How to Fix Crystallized Honey
When raw honey crystallizes it often forms large, gritty crystals. If you are someone who does not like this texture, it can be brought back to liquid form.
The trick is to restore honey to liquid using a slow controlled heat. No part of the honey should become overheated or scorched.
Heat will melt the sugar crystals that are forming in the honey. But, too much heat will harm the integrity of your honey. Slow and easy is the best way.
Heating Honey – How Hot is too Hot?
This is a common debate among honey connoisseurs. Most agree that temperatures over 110° F damages enzymes and anti-oxidants in raw honey. And, anything over 140° F ruins the natural properties in raw honey completely.
While 110° F may seem to be quite hot, keep in mind that your honey probably gets that hot or hotter in the hive.
On a hot South Carolina day, I would not be afraid to bet that areas inside my hive are near that temperature.
Bees do regulate the inside hive temperature through hive ventilation. However, they are still at the mercy of mother nature and can only control sections of the hive.
Gentle warming of the honey to a reasonable temperature does not damage the product. This can be accomplished easily if you take your time.
How to Melt Crystallized Honey
The easiest way to bring honey back to a liquid state requires only a few items. We want to create a “hot tub” figuratively speaking for our jar of honey.
If you buy honey in glass jars, this is easier. (But don’t worry if your honey is in plastic, we can use another method that I will discuss shortly.)
As we begin the process, it is a good idea to have a lid on the jar. Honey should always be stored in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
For the process of decrystallizaion, there should be a little excess room in the jar to allow room for expansion.
Don’t get your water too hot. Water boils at 212° F but we don’t want to get our water that hot!! Heat a small amount of water to about 110° F-115° F.
Don’t add water over the top of the jar – even though we do have the lid on.
Time needed: 1 hour.
Steps to decrystallize honey in a glass jar
- Put honey in glass jar
Place your honey in a heat safe container (glass jar) or ceramic crock. You don’t have to add the loosely attached lid but I like to in order to protect the honey from water.
- Heat water in a pot
Heat several inches of water in a pot on the stove until it is almost boiling (but not quite) – then remove from heat.
- Place jar of honey in the hot water
Slowly lower the jar of honey for decrystallizing in the hot water bath. Leave the jar sitting in the hot water bath until the water cools.
Another option: place the honey jar in another pan and slowly pour in the warm water. You will have to repeat this process several times. Slow and steady.
How Long Does it Take to Decrystallize Honey?
The amount of time required to completely decrystallize your honey depends on several factors:
- amount of honey in the jar
- how solid the honey is
- temperature used for decrystallization
Can You Heat Honey in the Microwave?
Have mercy, no! Please don’t microwave your honey. Microwaving does not evenly heat the food. Also, the microwaving process may damage your raw honey.
Will it hurt YOU to put your honey in the microwave? No, it should still be safe to eat and use. But, it sure will not do your raw honey any favors.
How to Decrystallize Honey in a Plastic Bottle
If you have a crystallized plastic bear, you have a extra step to perform. Putting a plastic bear or any plastic honey container in hot water may result in melting the bear.
And, as we have already discussed the microwave is not a good option either. You will melt your bear and ruin the nutritional value of the honey.
You have a couple of options. If the honey is thick but not solid, perhaps you can transfer it to a glass jar. And then, proceed with a hot water bath.
What if the honey is solid in your plastic container? Create a water bath similar to the one outlined earlier. But, this time keep the water temperature lower than 100° F.
It will take a while, but you may be able to loosen the honey enough to pour it out of the plastic. Then, you can proceed with the first method of a hot water bath that is warmer.
Setting the plastic container in a warm sunny window is also a good way to get things headed in the right direction.
Another Option for A Crystallized Honey Bear
Do you own a car? Some people report excellent results decrystallizing honey in their car. If you live in a region with warm temperatures, you may be able to heat your honey inside the car on a sunny (not hot) day.
How hot the car interior gets depends on the season and your location. It is important to monitor the inside temperature of the car to avoid damaging your raw honey.
Decrystallization of Bulk Honey
Beekeepers often store their honey harvest in sealed 5 gallon buckets. It is not unusual for honey to turn solid in the bucket.
This situation is not unique to beekeepers. Others who practice bulk food storage may experience granulated honey.
For home use, scoop out the amount of honey that you think you will use soon for decrystallization. Then proceed with the hot water bath method. This allows you to avoid exposing the whole bucket of honey to heat unnecessarily.
Another option for bulk storage of honey is a bucket wrap heater. This product fits around the bucket and warms the honey. It is even safe to use on plastic pails. The honey inside will not be damaged by the slowly warming heat.
Beekeepers often bottle honey in jars before it is sold. It is hard to know what size container your customers will want.
You may end up with a case of jars that doesn’t sell as quickly as desired. And, that honey may crystallize.
The problem is that most consumers don’t understand granulated or crystallized honey. They fear that the honey is damaged in some way. Crystallized honey is just as nutritious as liquid honey but it doesn’t sell as well.
A warming cabinet is easy to make and use. It works wonders when you have several jars of honey to warm.
How Many Times Can You Decrystallize Your Honey?
The process can be repeated again and again. However, remember that each time we heat the honey – even a lower temperatures, we may cause some very minor damage. Especially when it is repeated multiple times.
Recap of Tips for Decrystallizing Honey
Please remember that crystallized honey is still good – don’t throw it out. However, if you need or prefer honey that pours , any of these methods should work to decrystallize your honey back to liquid.