Finding a jar of solid, gritty honey! That’s no fun! What has happened to the sweet golden jar of goodness that you purchased a few months back? How your raw honey gone bad? Nope – it has crystallized. The good news is you can decrystallize honey without damaging it.
Decrystallizing Honey Like a Pro
If you are a long-time consumer of raw honey, I am sure you have experienced honey that has “turned to sugar”.
This is the common slang term for crystallized honey or granulated honey. Don’t panic – it will be okay.
Some people prefer thickened honey. But, your honey doesn’t have to stay this way.
If you prefer liquid honey, you can decrystallize honey without destroying it.
While it may look strange, crystallized honey is a good thing. It is not a sign that your honey has spoiled. This is a natural process of raw honey.
Most of us consume raw honey because for its nutritional benefits. Raw honey is alive with enzymes, antioxidants, pollen and other natural goodies.
Once the bees have completed making honey it is in its most pure, pristine state. Good honey is not cheap and we don’t want to waste all the hard work done by the bees.
Warming Honey to Return it to a Liquid State
When raw honey crystallizes slowly, it often forms large gritty crystals. Some people do not like the texture. The good news is that it can be brought back to liquid form easily.
Heat will melt the sugar crystals that are forming in the honey. But, too much heat will harm the integrity of your honey.
We want to restore honey using a slow controlled heat. No part of the honey should become overheated or scorched.
To learn more about why this happens to raw honey. Read my post – Why does Honey Crystallize.
The most important aspect of this warming process of honey is speed. Or a lack of speed – it is best accomplished slowly.
Yes, you can take that jar of thick, cloudy honey and restore it to a smooth liquid state.
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, but they are still at the mercy of mother nature.
My feeling is that gentle warming of the honey to a reasonable temperature does not damage the product.
How to Heat Honey Safely
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.)
Your glass jar of honey should have a lid on it to protect the honey from moisture and a little room for expansion.
Place the sealed jar of honey in a large bowl or other container. Now, we want to heat some water in another pot.
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.
Slowly, pour the hot water into the container around your jar of honey. As the water begins to cool, you can keep adding more hot water if needed.
However, don’t add water over the top of the jar – even though we do have the lid on.
You have to go slow in this process. It takes time. How long it takes you to completely decrystallize your honey depends on several things.
Major factors include: the amount of honey in the jar. And, how solid the honey is set up.
Can You Heat Honey in the Microwave?
Have mercy, no! Please don’t microwave your honey. Microwaving does not evenly heat the food. The microwaving process will damage your raw honey.
Will it hurt YOU to put your honey in the microwave? Probably not but it sure will not do your raw honey any favors.
How to Fix Crystallized Honey in Plastic
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.
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 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 Method to Heat Honey
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.
Liquefy only the amount of honey you want to use. 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.
It is not. Crystallized honey is just as nutritious as liquid honey but it doesn’t sell as well. They fear that the honey is damaged in some way.
It is not. 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. Learn how to make your own honey warmer in my post – How to Make Your Own Warming Cabinet for Honey
Honey is best stored in a warm dark place. Cool temperatures promote crystallization. But, remember that crystallized honey is still good. Don’t throw it out.