We don’t consume a lot of honey in our home so it’s not uncommon to find crystals develop in the jar before we get a chance to use it all. Is it still safe to eat? You bet! Here’s a simple trick that will dissolve those pesky granules along with some information about why the crystallization occurs.
First The Fix, Just Add Some Heat!
(heat gently to avoid damaging the honey)
- Place jar in a pot of warm water, set heat to medium-low and stir until crystals dissolve. You can also place the jar in a pot of hot water and leave it alone until it liquefies (not resting on heated element).
- Quick Fix: You could also heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir well, allow to cool for 20 seconds then heat again for 30 seconds (if there are still granules needing to be dissolved). Stir again and cool as noted before reheating (if required).
After being melted, the granules will disappear for a time but they will return eventually if the honey hasn’t been consumed quickly enough. Simply repeat the heating process each time.
Does crystallized honey mean it’s expired or is it still safe to eat? Honey doesn’t go bad but a shelf life of two years is a good rule of thumb (since storage conditions can affect taste of honey).
Are the granules edible? Yes, they’ll melt slowly in your mouth and in fact, some people prefer their honey crystallized a bit.
Why does honey become cloudy and grainy in the first place? Here’s a three page document from the National Honey Board Food Technology/Product Research Program [Update: removed since it’s no longer online] it’s loaded with information. A quote:
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.
Did You Know: Honey can be frozen! If honey isn’t a hot ticket item in your pantry and is only used irregularly, try freezing it in small batches and remove as needed (thaw at room temperature). Freezing will help prevent it from crystallizing.