Products that keep well over long periods of time are the best friends of a well-stocked pantry, and honey is one of those golden favourites. Find it a cool, dry, dark space in the cupboard, and it will keep for months (longer, if unopened).
But it doesn’t stay in a perfect liquid state forever — all that sugar naturally solidifies over time, which means opening the cupboard to hardened, crystal-filled honey.
But don’t worry, it hasn’t gone bad. In fact, most crystallized honeys are still perfectly good to use — it’s just hardened sugar.
So how do you decrystallize honey?
Heat up the honey using a steady, gentle heat. Avoid overheating, which will diminish its natural flavour. This doesn’t mean you can’t microwave it if you choose, but the hot water method (see below) is more reliable for even heat distribution and flavour retention. But a word of warning — the honey needs to be heated enough to fully melt the crystals, or it will begin to crystallize again as it cools.
Hot water method
Place your jar (lid removed) in a pot of hot water on the stove, allowing the honey to heat up and liquefy. Without boiling the water, slowly heat the honey, stirring it occasionally. Remove jar when crystals have dissolved.
How can I avoid crystallized honey?
Honey will crystallize naturally — but you can slow the process a few different ways:
1. Keep it tightly sealed.
Air exposure allows moisture and particles into honey, speeding up crystallization. Use a clean spoon to scoop honey out of a jar, keep the rim clean and dry, and seal it tightly in between uses.
2. Store it in the freezer (if you’re not planning on using it right away).
Honey’s crystallization commonly occurs between 5 and 25 degrees. 14 degrees is is the temperature at which it will crystallize fastest. This makes the freezer your best option for maximum longevity (food safety regulations suggest fridge temperatures be set at around 4 degrees, but the actual internal temperature can vary by season, shelf, or quantity of food in the fridge.) Bonus: Honey’s low water content means it won’t solidify in the icebox.
3. Store it in a glass jar.
Not only is glass less porous than plastic, reheating honey via the hot water method will be easier (if it crystallizes before the jar is empty).