Don't know how to liquify honey that is hard? Learn how to decrystallize honey and if you can prevent it from crystallizing. One thing is for sure: with a few simple tricks, your honey will become liquid again.
When you think, "my honey crystallized" or "my honey is too hard, and it is over," the good news is that there is a way to bring it back to a liquid state.
How do you deal with crystallized honey, often spelled as crystallized honey in the UK? The Internet is full of advice, good and not-so-good.
Is it ok to microwave honey or use hot water to melt honey? Can you place your honey in the oven or a chicken egg incubator?
Finally, is it possible to run the bottled honey through a dishwasher cycle or use a hot tub?
So let's find out what crystallized honey is and how to melt crystallized honey and retain its quality and flavor.
What is honey crystallization?
The truth is that honey crystallizes and is a natural phenomenon, not a deterioration.
And if you wonder about if honey goes bad when it crystallizes, the answer is no. The process only affects the product's color and texture, not its beneficial properties.
Crystallization, also called granulation, is a matter of time. The process has different rates: from a few weeks to longer than a year.
Liquid honey hardens and turns into its crystallized state. Sugar molecules separate from the water substance and begin building blocks of solid sugar crystals.
The presence of smaller particles of pollen or wax causes the honey to change into a solid form even faster.
Crystallized honey looks grainy, similar to sugar, or feels hard with squeezing out of the plastic bottle.
But the size of honey crystals matters: the finer the crystals, the more they are unnoticed, providing the appearance of liquid honey.
For example, rapeseed honey may appear normal when it has crystallized. On the other hand, sunflower honey with coarser crystals seems hard and creamy.
How to decrystallize honey
Crystallization is a reversible phenomenon, and you can revive honey as it was at the extraction time.
So what is a solution to get rid of crystals and preserve the honey's nutritional qualities and texture? Is it ok to heat honey? Heating honey is okay, but it must be done correctly.
Since the temperature inside the hive is 95°F (35°C), you can warm up honey not exceeding 104-113°F (40-45°C).
While the exact temperature or sweet spot is debated, ideally, don't overreach 110°F (43°C) to preserve the honey's beneficial properties.
Heating honey to 140°F (60°C) substantially degrades the product. However, at 160°F (71°C), honey's sugar caramelizes.
So the key is to use the low temperature, the indirect and constant heat, and heat honey slowly. Overheated honey has a liquid state but is dark in color with a changed taste and destroyed good enzymes.
Also, don't re-liquify honey over and over again. To keep its flavor, melt only a small amount of honey you need. The repeated cycle of crystalizing doesn't benefit the honey's properties.
Here are a few methods on how to fix honey that has become too hard. But first, transfer your honey from a plastic bottle to a glass jar and apply a lid.
When melting honey, keep the jars closed. Since the honey is very hygroscopic and easily absorbs moisture, it will degrade its quality.
How to liquify honey? There are a few methods to melt hardened honey: water bath, yogurt maker, slow cooker, sous vide, oven, honey warmer, and squeezable pouches.
#1 Stovetop method, or water bath method
Pour the water into a heat-proof container. Heat it over medium heat for water to reach 110°F (43°C) at maximum.
Check the temperature of water with a thermometer. Then, remove the pot of water from the heat and put the honey jars in.
Cover the pan with a lid and let the honey set for about an hour, stirring with a clean spoon as needed. If the water cools down, add some hot water but don't exceed the recommended temperature.
Use hot tap water if preferred, but its temperature should be monitored with a thermometer.
The time needed to decrystallize honey depends on the amount of the product, but it usually takes about an hour.
#2 Yogurt maker method
Place the honey jars in a yogurt maker that holds the temperature at 112°F (44°C) until getting the runny honey.
#3 Slow cooker method
Set the covered honey jars into the slow cooker. Pour enough water to cover the honey containers halfway. Cover the slow cooker, and set the setting to low.
Using a cooking thermometer, check the water temperature in about 30 minutes, not to exceed 110°F (43°C). Then, turn the slow cooker off and let the honey melt until a smooth liquid.
#4 Sous vide method
If you own sous vide cooker, program it to 110°F (43°C) and put your bottles in for a few hours to liquefy honey.
#5 Cooling oven method
Heat the oven to 110°F (43°C) and turn it off. Place the closed heat-safe glass jars in the oven until the honey has melted evenly.
#6 Honey warmer method
If you need to liquify honey for selling, you want to use a real honey warmer. This is the best way to decrystallize honey in bulk.
#7 Go honey and squeezable pouches
Honey companies use specially designed pouches immersed in a bowl with hot tap water until honey melts. The process usually takes up to 15 minutes.
Why does honey crystallize?
A few factors must be taken into account. Honey crystallization depends on the types of honey, temperature, water content, air exposure, age, and floral origin.
With the only possible exception of acacia honey, all kinds of natural honey tend to crystallize.
Type of honey
Among the three major sugars in honey (glucose, fructose, and sucrose), glucose is the one that crystallizes the quickest. It means the honey content determines the start of crystallization.
The higher the glucose content, the faster the crystallization occurs. The higher the fructose content, the longer the honey remains liquid.
For example, rapeseed honey contains 40% glucose and 38% fructose, compared to acacia honey, with 27% glucose and 44% fructose.
It is clear now that rapeseed honey (the same is about clover, lavender, dandelion, heather honey, etc.) crystallized faster than acacia honey (the same applies to chestnut honey, honeydew, tupelo, sage honey, etc.).
Fructose is responsible for the sweetness of the honey. So the sweeter the honey, the less likely it is to crystallize fast.
The temperature is another factor that has a role to play. With the temperature increase, the solubility of sugars increases, and the risk of crystallization goes away.
Colder temperatures accelerate honey crystallization. In fact, at 59°F (15°C), the honey starts to harden. So it is preferable to store it at more than 68°F (20°C) to slow crystallization.
But low temperatures below 50°F (10°C) have the advantage of preserving all the characteristics of the honey.
The amount of water present in the honey also plays a role. The more the water content, the more probable the honey will harden faster.
But when water is in small quantities (less than 15%), crystallization occurs slowly, and the honey stays creamy without crystallizing.
This sugar content depends on the floral origin that impacts the crystallization rate, but it has no direct link with the honey quality.
Certain substances, such as pollen and wax, can cause the beginning of crystallization.
Also, the longer you store the honey, the more chance the honey will harden. After reserving for two years in a cupboard, the perfectly liquid honey will likely solidify.
Liquid honey or crystallized honey
Some people prefer liquid honey, others in a more spreadable state. Solid honey has differences in consistency that depends on crystals.
For example, sunflower honey has coarse, large crystals that make honey clump firmly that even spooning becomes hard.
On the contrary, rapeseed honey has very fine crystals that make it creamy and pleasant in the mouth.
How to keep honey from crystallizing
The answer might disappoint you if you wonder how to prevent honey from crystallizing.
The crystallization of natural honey is a natural process; you can't prevent it, but you can slow it down.
Since cold temperatures trigger crystallization, try to avoid storing honey in a cool cabinet or cupboard.
By moving honey to room temperature that ranges from 70-80°F (21-27°C), you can enjoy the liquid form of honey for longer.
Still, remember that crystallization depends on the composition of honey and many other factors.
To prevent honey from hardening, you can stir it for 30 seconds from time to time or apply gentle heat.
Also, you can try to filter raw honey using a polyester microfilter, fine nylon cloth, or cheesecloth. It helps remove small bits of pollen or wax that trigger crystallization.
Interestingly, pasteurized honey crystallizes but not as quickly as natural honey. Artificial honey, with added corn syrup, doesn't crystallize, but it doesn't share health benefits.
How to store honey
Honey is a delicate product and should be treated carefully, respecting its proper storage conditions. Keep your honey in a tightly closed glass jar or food-safe plastic container at normal room temperature.
Try to avoid storing your honey in metal containers because they can induce the honey to oxidize.
High humidity and high temperatures are other subjects to avoid while storing honey. Keep it away from direct sunlight; better store honey in the coolest spot of your pantry if this is the case.
There are a few"no" and "never" to take into consideration:
- Never store honey in the refrigerator.
- Avoid any thermal shock.
- Don't keep honey close to heat-producing appliances.
This comprehensive guide on how to liquefy crystallized raw honey has all the information about why honey crystallizes and how to fix honey in seven ways.
Finally, let's summarize the things to avoid when decrystallizing honey:
- Don't use a double boiler; never heat honey directly on the stovetop. Using the double boiler is hard to control the water temperature below 110°F (43°C). With the stovetop, you risk burning and destroying your honey.
- Never microwave honey. Because of the uneven heating and uncontrolled temperature, you can ruin honey easily.
- Don't add hot water directly to honey. While it will dissolve the sugar crystals, you will end up with honey syrup, but not honey.
- Avoid using an electric blanket or home radiator due to the inability to control the correct temperature while melting honey.
- As a strange case, don't use a dishwasher, a hot tub, or a chicken incubator to soften honey. There are simpler and more intelligent ways to fix it.
What can you do with crystallized honey?
Since crystallized honey is edible, you can use it the same way as liquid honey.
Add a spoon to your morning yogurt or overnight oatmeal, or make French Madeleines or other desserts where honey is an ingredient.
Due to its numerous nutritional properties, organic honey is perfect for treating diaper rashes, stomach ulcers, dry skin, acne, seasonal allergies, and sore throats when mixed with lemon juice.
The time of honey crystallization is different (from a few months to over a year) since it depends on the sugar content, temperature, liquid content, air exposure, age, and floral origin of honey.
Absolutely, yes. Crystallized honey has the same flavor, taste, and beneficial properties as liquid honey.
The easiest way to decrystallize honey is by using many methods, like a water bath, yogurt maker, slow cooker, sous vide, cooling oven, honey warmer, or squeezable pouches.
Do not microwave honey because it will scorch or boil at some point using this method. In addition, uneven cooking can lead to uncontrolled temperatures that can destroy the beneficial enzymes of the product.
While using a plastic bottle to soften honey is not recommended, the best option is the hot water method (aka water bath). For the best results, use hot tap water with a temperature below 100°F (37°C); a thermometer is highly recommended. Let the plastic bottle sit until the honey is liquified. Give a good shake to the honey to break up the remaining sugar crystals. Next, open and try to squeeze bottle of liquid honey.
It isn't recommended to boil honey. High temperatures will destroy the enzymes and other beneficial properties of this product.