If you’re new to the world of beekeeping or having local, raw honey, you may not be sure what’s going on when your jar of honey turns solid. Crystallized honey is nothing to be concerned about. Here are some answers to the questions you might have!
Years ago, before we moved to Alaska and became interested in beekeeping, we purchased our honey in big plastic bottles from the grocery store. Over time, I learned the value of raw honey and using it to naturally sweeten foods to replace refined sugar.
After moving to Alaska, we met a few people that kept bees and we became interested. We started only purchasing local, raw honey and the difference from the old store-bought stuff was incredible. My husband and I researched, asked questions, and even took a class taught by a local beekeeper.
In 2017, we placed an order for our first two colonies of bees and jumped all in. We haven’t looked back since. We absolutely love keeping bees, not just for the honey but also for the experience, the knowledge gained, the enjoyment of watching them, and working together as a family.
If you purchase local, raw honey (which I highly recommend!) you know that it’s expensive but worth every penny. Consider becoming a beekeeper yourself! The start-up cost can be high but also worth every penny.
After filling our pantry and shelves with beautiful jars full of our very own honey, over some time we started having some crystallize. If you were like me and wondering what was going on, here’s what I’ve learned over the years.
How Does Honey Crystallize?
Crystallization can be caused in a few ways. Temperature can play a large role if your honey is kept below 50 degrees F. Store your honey in a warm location in your home to avoid this.
The different types of flora that the bees are gathering nectar from can also affect crystallization. We have found here in Alaska that clover causes our honey to crystallize much faster than fireweed, two of our bees’ main sources of nectar. It depends on the weather and the year as to which of those has the bigger crop for the bees to gather from.
Also, little bits of pollen will be in raw, unprocessed honey. We pour our honey through a sieve but it’s not a fine mesh so it stops bee parts and large chunks of wax but pollen will get through. This is a great nutritional boost and we like that. But the little bits of pollen (that you can’t even see) provides a point of beginning for crystallization.
Is Crystallized Honey Still Good?
Yes! Crystallized honey is still good, it is not spoiled at all. Please don’t throw it away! Honey can only spoil if left open and allowed to get wet. But, when kept in an airtight container, honey won’t go bad.
There’s nothing wrong with crystallized honey. It is just as tasty and healthy as in its liquid form. In fact, some people prefer crystallized honey!
So don’t worry if the local, raw honey you purchase begins to crystallize after some time. It’s your proof that it really is raw and in its natural state, not processed.
How to Decrystallize Honey
If you decide that you want to decrystallize your honey and return it to liquid form, that’s easy to do. There are many methods to accomplish this but the most important point to remember is not to heat the honey to boiling or you will likely destroy much of the nutritional value and it won’t be raw anymore.
The simplest way to heat your honey is to set it in a pot of very warm, but not too hot, water. Around 100-110 degrees F is ideal. I like to fill my slow cooker about halfway with water, turn it on the “warm” setting and place my jar of crystallized honey in it. I let this sit for several hours, checking the temperature with my digital thermometer every so often.
After a few hours, the honey will return to liquid form and can be used as normal. Microwaving is not a good idea. Don’t be in a rush as too high of heat can damage the honey. Using lower heat for a longer time works best.
Ways to Use Crystallized Honey
As I said before, many people prefer crystallized honey! There are so many ways to use it that can often be simpler than using regular honey. Here are a few ideas for you:
- In hot beverages-Like adding honey to your tea or coffee? Using a spoon, scoop out some crystallized honey and put it right in your hot drink. It will melt as you stir it in.
- On toast-We love to spread butter and then drizzle honey on our hot toast or homemade biscuits. Crystallized honey is even easier to spread on toast or biscuits and isn’t quite as messy as dripping honey.
- Baking-Use crystallized honey as you would regular honey when baking. I replace refined sugar with honey in baking recipes and the same can be done with crystalized honey. Always use a little less honey than the sugar that the recipe calls for and taste test as needed.
I hope this helps you better understand crystallized honey and to enjoy it just like regular honey! Honey is an amazing food and the crystallization process is proof of just that!