How To Decrystallize Honey and Other Honey Tips


How To Decrystallize Honey

Today I want to talk all about honey. Growing up my dad always raised bees. My mom used the honey for baking and cooking and we loved eating it, but my parents also sold the honey to family and friends.

My dad did all the work when it came to the actual bees, but when it came to harvesting the honey, it was a family project.

I have some fun, and not so fun, memories of the hours spent in the kitchen harvesting honey.

The not so fun part was the hours of hand cranking the extractor that spun the honey out. Well, maybe not hours because we all helped, but it often felt that way. And I can’t forget the clean up. The sticky mess all over the kitchen, my poor mom she must have spent hours getting her kitchen back to normal.

But it was so worth it, there is nothing quite like fresh honey, or chewing on a honeycomb and enjoying the sweet stickiness that comes out. There is nothing quite like looking out a counter full of honey jars that will last throughout the year.

Today I thought I would share a few tips that I learned over the years from my mom about honey.

One of the problems with honey is that it often turns solid. This is called crystallizing or crystallized honey. A lot of things affect why honey does this, but it often happens. So, what do we do about it when it happens.

First of all you do not throw it out. I recently had someone tell me they threw it out, because they had no idea that you could make it usable again. Do not throw your honey out when it crystallizes. You can fix it. You can decrystallize honey.

There is nothing wrong with crystallized honey. You can eat it, but most people do not want to. The texture is very grainy and it is basically impossible to spread. So, what do you do to fix it?

You can microwave the honey to decrystallize it, but this is not the best way. The best way is low and slow. You do not want to overheat the honey, so my favorite way to decrystallize honey is on the stove top because it is much easier to control the temperature.

I always keep my honey in a glass jar. We will discuss that in a minute, but a glass jar is also important for the decrystallization process.

I place the glass jar in a pan of water on the stove. This is why glass is important. It is not a good idea to put a plastic container in a pan on the stove. That could turn into a dangerous mess.

Turn the burner on medium low to heat the water. Leave the lid on the jar, because you do not want moisture getting into the honey, but don’t put the lid on too tight. Simmer on low for 20-40 minutes. Or until honey is thinned out and back to normal.

See how pretty that is? A nice golden honey just the way it should be.

Here are a few other honey tips:

Do not store honey in plastic containers long term. They will pick up the taste of the plastic. I can almost always taste honey that has been stored in plastic containers. I do have a small honey bear that is plastic, but we go through this so fast that it does not matter so much. For long term storage, use glass.

Buy your honey from a farmer’s market or local source. I do not buy honey from a grocery store unless I have to. I always try to buy it as fresh as I can. The best way to do this is to buy it from a good source. Grocery stores are great for many things, but honey is not one of them.

Experiment with different flavors of honey. I think it is fun to try the different variations of honey. Clover honey will taste different than blackberry honey. A honey where the  bees have been in an orchard will taste different than honey from bees that have been in a berry patch. If you have never tried the different versions, you should. You might just be amazed at the difference.

What honey tips do you have?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Comments

  1. This happened to me with a plastic container of honey I bought from Sams. Unfortunately I tried nuking and it didn’t work as well and I ditched it. I’m going to buy it again from SAMS again. Would you recommend transferring the 5 pound container to mason jars? Oh, and does the reheated honey stay that way once you put reheat it in the water or do you have to do it again each time?

    • @Jackie, I usually do transfer my honey to quart jars. As far as the crystallizing, yes it may happen again. If I have a far or two that have crystallized, I usually just decrystallize one and use that up before doing the next one. I hope that helps.

    • Jackie, honey will recrystallize in time. Some honeys will crystallize faster than others.
      Processed honey will not crystallize as it has been heated past 140 degrees and super filtered to take out the pollen and kill the enzymes in the honey that makes it good for you.

  2. When we go back to my hometown we always stock up on tupelo honey. Did you know that pure tupelo honey never crystallizes? The taste of tupelo honey is OUT of this world! I almost always use it in my bread and on top of biscuits is just fantastic.

    This place has THE best honey. http://lltupelohoney.com

    • @Casey, I have never heard of tupelo honey, but I will have to try it sometime.

      • Lynn, Tupelo only grows in NW Florida in the Apalachicola swamp area. The Tupelo tree grows about 40′-60′ and spans about 40′ with it feet in the water. It is a world wide known honey as it is shipped all over the world. Hope this helps you. PS I am a beekeeper and I am really a male. You can strike the PS if you want too.

    • Casey you must be from Wewa………..I live down the road in PC. What a small world it is.

  3. We have a bulk raw honey co-op where we order 20+ gallons of honey at a time from a local source.
    I have found that clover honey crystallizes quicker than most honeys b/c or its high sugar content. Tupelo having one of the lowest sugar content (which is the best for diabetics) has not ever crystallized for us (we live in a mild climate – GA). When our honey has crystallized in the past I placed the container in our vehicle on a hot summer day – does the trick!

    • @Darleen, I agree sugar content seems to have a lot to do with it. I have not heard of or would have thought of placing it in a vehicle on a hot day, but that would work, and it would not use any heat or electricity to do it. I may have to try that sometime.

  4. You can use honey in place of sugar in some recipes. It doesn’t take as much honey as sugar though.
    I buy local honey from the beekeeper.

  5. Stephanie Johnson says:

    Do you have a favorite Oklahoma honey? Do you purchase it at your local farmer’s market?

    • @Stephanie Johnson, The last few times I have bought honey, I have got it through Azure Standard co-op. I order monthly from them, so it is very convenient for me to get it through them and it is good honey. It is not local, but it is Oregon honey and a good quality. Locally I have bought it at Conrads in Bixby and at Livesay Orchards in Porter. I have also bought local honey a few times at Reasors, but they do not always carry it. I hope that helps.

  6. really helpful tips! Thanks, Lynn!

  7. Thanks, Lynn! Quite timely, as I was going to heat my crystallized honey today!

    I would like to transfer some of my honey into a honey bear for ease of use — do you know if I should sterilize the bear first, or if a normal wash/dry would work? For some reason, I’m fearful of bacteria growth!

    • @SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen, Well I am not a scientist, but from what I have read bacteria can/may contribute to crystallization, that and the sugar content. I have sterilized jars before, but never my honey bear, mainly because it is plastic, and with 3 kids, our honey bear is empty quite often. Not sure I helped you or answered your question very well. :)

      • statikVoid says:

        Actually, from what I’ve read, honey helps to retard the growth of microbes due to it’s high salinity. In fact, in ye olde days, honey was used as a medicinal poultice because it can help to disinfect wounds. However there are a few kinds of bacteria and fungi that thrive in honey, but they live in the bee’s gut anyway so pasteurizing the honey itself would be the only way of getting rid of it.

    • @SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen
      Bacteria and germs cannot live in honey that is why it is good for cuts and scrapes. Just put some on the wound and wrap a bandage around it and sit back and relax.
      I would wash plastic bear with soap and water and rinse. Dry before reloading the honey. Water can cause fermenting and that will make the honey taste not so good.

  8. When I was young my dad read a book about all the wonderful things that honey and apple cider vinegar do. We make a hot drink of 2 spoonfuls each honey and cider vinegar whenever we have a sore throat or cold or laryngitis. My daughter nicknamed them “Hotties” when she was little. The other AMAZING thing that honey does is heal a burn. Start applying honey when the burn occurs. It alleviates the pain. You can watch the burn absorb the honey and it will start to hurt again. Keep applying until you no longer feel the pain. I have been burned with hot water from an iron, touching hot pans from the oven, etc. and didn’t even have a red spot the next day. One time I touched the oven rack with three fingers – I had my hand in a plate of honey for about 4 hours, but there was no lingering pain or blisters to deal with.

    • @Tammy, I have never heard that about burns, but now I am going to try it. Well, next time I get a burn I will. :) . That would be an easy and natural way to heal burns, so I am glad to know that! Thank you!

  9. Thanks Lynn for the info! I do transfer my honey to jars, but I was doing it for ease of clean up of drippy sides-Ha!). But my question is after following your suggestion above for de-crystalizing- how long will the effect last? Is it okay to do it again if it re-crystalizes? Will it re-crystalize?

  10. whoops, I just saw that you answered that above.. sorry.

  11. I LOVE honey! My favorite way to eat it is over vanilla ice cream with a touch of cinnamon on it….so yummy! I have also heard that if you have seasonal allergies you should eat a teaspoon of local honey every day and it will alleviate your allergies. The thought behind it is that you are ingesting the same pollen that causes your allergies, but because of how it enters your body, it does not cause the allergy symptoms, yet it allows your body to build up its defenses against the pollen so that when you do breathe it in, your body does not react as it once did (runny nose, puffy eyes, etc).

  12. I love honey and have been thinking about replacing the sugar in the ice tea syrup I make with it. Do you think I should replace all or part of the sugar? And would you use half the amount of honey as you would normally use of sugar? (Hmm, I think I’ll be experimenting today.)
    I think it should also be mentioned that according to the National Honey Board, honey should not be fed to infants less than one year of age.

    • @Chris, I am not a tea drinker so I am not sure how much help I will be. :) But I would start by replacing part of it, and see if you like it, than slowly replace all the sugar with honey. And yes I would use less honey than I would sugar. You can always add more if it is not sweet enough.

  13. We love local raw orange blossom honey! I’ve read that raw honey has health benefits over heat-processed honey. To be honest, though, we are not as concerned about the health benefits as we are about the taste. The honey we use is so delicious!

    I sometimes use honey as a face cleaner. It feels kind of strange rubbing it on, but it rinses right off with very warm water and leaves my face smooth and soft. I don’t use my good orange blossom honey for this; I have some inexpensive clover honey that needs to be used up.

  14. Lynn, when you heat the honey in the pot of hot water with the lid on, does it vacuum seal?

  15. Unscrew those lids some — do not leave tight. You might overheat the jar & contents, having a minor “blow-up”. You are not trying to pressure cook can (seal) that honey in the jar.

    Note: most commercial store bought honey is pasteurized & will not give you any benefit with allergies. Raw honey, perhaps, will benefit but does put one at a bit of risk with regards to contamination & bacteria, etc. It is not nearly as risky as raw milk, however, & can often be found for sale locally & usually direct from the beekeeper.

  16. Lynn, these are some great honey tips! Thanks for sharing! :)

  17. P.S. I love it that your dad commented on this post! Wait — IS that your dad?! :)

  18. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I was looking for the easiest way to decrystalize my honey, and your site was a GREAT help! My honey is back to normal! w00t w00t!!! Thank you so much for your tips. I may keep reading your blog. :) Thank you again for posting!
    God Bless,
    Vickie ~from Louisiana~

    • @Vickie, I am so glad that you found my post helpful and that your honey is back to normal. I hope you keep reading and that you continue to find my tips and recipes helpful.

  19. Well, I have an opposite problem. I love crystallized honey, but no matter how long I keep store-bought honey, it would not crystallize. Can anything be done to make it crystallize, or is there a particular brand of honey that’s will do it on it’s own?

    • @Annie, I have heard that it has partly to do with sugar content and types of honey. So, you might try a different type and see if that works.

    • @Annie, Stores do not want honey to crystallize on their shelves, so the suppliers will heat the honey over 140 degrees and super filter it to take all the pollen out of the honey. What you are getting in the store is honey flavored syrup. There is nothing in the store honey that will benefit the user, and therefore will not granulate to promote crystallized honey spread.

      You need raw or unprocessed honey for making a honey spread or “creamed honey”.

  20. @Lynn: thank you, I will try a few different brands then. I don’t suppose adding sugar to regular honey will work?

  21. Great tip! I will try it next time. I usually whip my crystalized honey & store it in a pyrex. It stays spreadable that way.

  22. Tip: raw honey is a great 1st aid/ home remedy because it has antimicrobial action. There have been studies of it being used as a wound dressing (especially with makuna honey from New Zealand). It’s one of the reasons Stephanie finds it a great face cleaner, probably.

    Buying from a specialty grocery can be a great way to try different honeys. Like tupelo or sourwood, two favorites from the South. Visiting my grandparents in Florida, I have memories of a yummy sea grape honey. Interesting local varietal honeys like these can be found in specialty groceries or during vacations.

    If you shop locally or regionally owned groceries, don’t just look for honey in the syrup section, the local honey farmer’s honey may be carried in your store, but in the produce or deli section. A couple of my locally run stores carry our local honey. It’s the same price as he sells it too.

    If you don’t get a plastic squeeze bottle for serving, one of those wooden honey dipper “combs” is a life saver. They really do cut down on drips if you are serving from a jar.

  23. I will do this next time with my “hardened” honey. Great tips. Also, just curious about store bought honey. Is the main reason to buy for taste or are there other reasons too? You mention the store is not the place to get it so I’d love to hear more if you have a second.

  24. Lynn,

    I have six to ten different honeys on my cabinet and table. I use different ones for different things. Example: I cook with Wildflower honey as it is the least expensive and makes a great bar-b-que sauce. I glaze with Gallberry or Privet (ham, chicken, turkey), and use Tupelo on my biscuits and butter.

    Way up at the top somewhere someone asked about allergies. I would like to make a comment about that. Each colony of bees will work only one kind of flower at a time (that is what makes them great pollinators). When the flower no longer produces nectar, the bees move to another kind of flower.

    In the Spring, there is a smorgasbord of flowers blooming. All that honey is then taken off and poured into the same barrel and we call that Wildflower. When we extract the honey, there is pollen in it from all the different flora source.

    A person is allergic to the air he/she breathes. The pollen that is free in the air is what causes a person to sneeze, have runny noses or eyes, and will cause the sinuses to clog up. The Wildflower honey has all those pollens and will be absorbed through the stomach and help the immune system to overcome the allergens.

    I hope this helps your readers.

    • PS: Use about a Tbl sp a day. Can be used as sweetner for your drinks, or used on toast, or poured over your sausage, etc.
      Takes about 6 weeks to start noticing a difference in how your allergies are effecting you.

  25. michelle says:

    I have had honey crystallize in the plastic bear and when it was all I had I put bear and all in the microwave 1 min 50% power, worked like a charm to decrystallize honey and didn’t melt the plastic. Just handle with care the plastic container and honey will both be hot.

  26. i just finished decrystalizing my honey and it is still a little grainy and really thin. i would like to know if it is going to thicken back up and if i need to cool it back off fast? did i heat it too much or too little? thanks

    • Mine usually thickens back up as it cools back to room temperature. If it is still grainy I would say it needed a little longer. I hope that helps.

  27. Thanks for all of the tips.
    Eating honey can only help allergies if your allergies are caused by the types of pollen in your honey. I’m allergic to many grasses which unfortunately don’t attract bees. I only eat honey because I like it so it doesn’t really matter to me.
    When I worked at a cactus nursery we used honey & a band-aid to soften stubborn cactus stickers stuck in our hands. The sticker would soften, puff up, and work its way out of the skin. Neat trick!

  28. I have a 44 gallon drum full of candied honey, any suggestions on getting it out, please help thanks, Ive already thought about propping it up in a water tank and heating the water?

  29. We have orange blossom honey, lavender honey and sage honey..all local

  30. I put our honey in boiled water before I read your posts.
    Is the honey still any good?
    thanks

    • If it looks fine it is still good. It is best not to boil it because it can change it, but if it looks and smells fine I would use it.

  31. We bought a huge bucket of raw honey from a local bee farmer. I have been decrystalizing it, but a thought came to my head. At what temperature do you “damage” all of the goodness in the raw honey? Just thought I would ask. Thank you!!!!

  32. I just bought a wooden honey dipper to go in a cute container my Mom got me. Can I leave the dipper sitting in the pot when not in use, or should I take it out and wash it each time? There is a space in tbe pot for a little spatula, but I’d rather have a dipper in there, but didn’t know if sittinng in honey would be bad for it.

    • I am not sure what the correct way is, but growing up I am pretty sure we just left the dipper thing in the honey pot. I am not sure there is a wrong or right way to do that.

  33. What recommend you for decrystalization of honey in 20 kg metal container, when discharging is imposible.

    • Can you scoop it out and put it into something smaller to decrystalize in small batches? It would take awhile to do it all that way, but I would think that might be the best option.

  34. Thanks for this post Lynn. I too had bought a large container of honey from Sam’s and now will be decrystallizing it today.
    I’ve pinned this to my Pinterest page for others to know. Thanks again! -Mary

  35. While I realize this is an older post, just a quick thanks! I normally use all of my honey before it crystallizes, however, this particular jar went way fast and I wasn’t sure of a non-microwave way to fix it! Up above people had asked about allergies. Mine are horrid. Like, REALLY bad. I hve been using locally sourced (hyper-local actually – Google Bee Local honey in Portland, OR- he does neighborhood specific honeys.) products for three years. A TBSP a day every couple of days during off season, each day at the beginning, 2 at peak. I have never had this kind of success with any (even prescription) allergy meds. My one concession is eye drops- I like my mascara where it is ;)

  36. ann beck says:

    I have 2 large plastic containers that the honey came in and both are crystallized. No matter how long I leave it in hot water nothing happens.. Tried to get it from the containers after reading about putting it in jars, it just isn’t moving. Any other suggestions for this—thank you

  37. Thank you for this….beautiful pics!

  38. Thanks! Going to decrystallize my two half-full honey jars, but I think I’ll scoop to a glass pint jar first. Also, fun fact / legend about one of the more macabre uses of honey – check out the “mellified man” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mellified_man
    Hmm… I think I’ll stick to using a tablespoon of honey for my sore throat, and other more benign uses!

  39. I am so glad I found this link. I’m de-crystallizing my honey as I type and am so grateful to both you, Lynn, and @Peaches the beekeeper for the info. We are big fans of raw local honey and I’m glad I found this page. Maybe I can link back to you once I get my blog up and running when school starts back in a couple of weeks?? Let me know please and thanks.

  40. I just bought some local raw honey in a plastic bear container. It is soft and liquidy and thick – but VERY grainy – feels like fine sand in it. Freakin’ me out some. Is it safe to eat?

  41. I was wondering what to do if the honey was bought in a plastic container. Do I have to throw it away?

  42. Just don’t heat the honey over 70C – that’s the point at which some of the enzymes start breaking down.

  43. Thank you Lynn
    I use honey for bread making and as Seniors we don’t make it very often and the only container we can get it in is Plastic, so OK transfer it to a glass jar which then becomes easier to use your “method”

    • I like to store it long term in glass. So yes transferring it to a glass jar so that if it crystallizes you can easily do this is a great idea.

  44. You really have to LOOSEN the lid – ‘not too tight’ is ambiguous and potentially dangerous. My uncle lost an eye when a sealed glass jar exploded in the heat.

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