We don’t consume a lot of honey in our home so it’s not uncommon to discover that crystals have developed in the jar before we got the chance to use it all.
Is this still safe to eat? You bet! I have more info on that below but first….
Here’s a simple trick that will dissolve those pesky granules back into liquid, syrupy goodness along with some information about why this crystallization occurs in the first place.
Quick How-To Fix, Just Add Some Heat!
(process gently to avoid damaging the honey)
- Place glass jar in a pot of warm water, set stove element to medium-low heat and stir until the little shards dissolve.
- Alternatively, place the jar in a pot of hot water and leave it alone until it liquefies (keep off the stove element).
- Quick Fix: You could also zap in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir well, allow to cool for 20 seconds then zap again for 30 seconds (if there are still granules needing to be dissolved). Stir again and cool as noted before reheating (if required).
- Note: Overheating can affect the quality and nutrients of raw honey, you may want to reduce (about 50%) the microwave’s power level and repeat the steps a couple more times.
After melting, the granules will disappear for a time but they do return eventually if the honey hasn’t been consumed quickly enough. Simply repeat the warming process as needed.
Once liquid honey crystallizes does this mean it’s expired or is it still safe to eat? It doesn’t go bad but a shelf life of two years is a good rule of thumb (since storage conditions can affect the taste).
- Concerning signs: If you see mold or the contents smell weird, that’s the signal to toss the container. This happens when the batch has been contaminated (ie. by a dirty knife or spoon when scooping).
Are the granules edible? Yes, they’ll melt slowly in your mouth and in fact, some people prefer this sweet, crystallized treat.
- Feel free to drop a spoonful into your hot cup of tea (where the grainy bits will dissolve as you stir) or dollop onto toast, over oatmeal and whatever else you like to make things a little sweeter.
What exactly are these little solid grains? Essentially, sugar. That’s why they disappear when melted. Honey is composed mainly of different sugars (mostly glucose and fructose) and water.
Why does it become cloudy and grainy in the first place? Here’s a quote from a three page pdf loaded with information:
This natural phenomenon happens when glucose, one of three main sugars in honey, spontaneously precipitates out of the supersaturated honey solution. The glucose loses water (becoming glucose monohydrate) and takes the form of a crystal (a solid body with a precise and orderly structure). The crystals form a lattice which immobilizes other components of honey in a suspension thus creating the semi-solid state.Source: National Honey Board Food Technology/Product Research Program (pdf from web archive)
Did You Know: Honey can be frozen! If this pantry staple isn’t a hot ticket item in your kitchen and is only used irregularly, try freezing in small batches and remove as needed (thawing slowly at room temperature). Freezing will help prevent it from crystallizing.