6 Ways to Liquefy Crystallized Raw Honey: A Comprehensive Guide
Crystallized honey is a common occurrence in raw honey, but it doesn't mean you have to toss the jar out! In this comprehensive guide, we will outline six ways to liquefy crystallized raw honey. We'll start with a little background information about why honey crystallizes in the first place, then move on to how to fix the crystals. Finally, we'll list some things not to do when liquifying your honey. Let's get started!
Why Raw Honey Crystallizes
Crystallization is a phenomenon that occurs in many types of honey. The main reason why raw honey crystallizes is that it contains more sugar than water (raw honey is generally only 16% to 20% water). The naturally occurring glucose in the honey separates from the water molecules and begins forming solid crystals. This process happens much slower when there are fewer microscopic wax or pollen bits in the honey, which is why ultra-filtered, processed honey is less likely to crystallize. It's also less likely to retain the micro-nutrients found in raw honey through this process.
While crystallization might not be ideal for a beautiful drizzle on your morning toast, it's actually a sign that you're getting raw, unprocessed honey! In fact, many people purposely let their honey crystallize for the unique tasty texture and ability to spread honey with a knife instead of pouring it.
How To Liquefy The Honey Crystals
Now that you know a little bit about why honey crystallizes, let's move on to how to fix the crystals. The goal is to gently heat the honey so the crystals melt and the sugar molecules remix with the water molecules. It is important to not overheat your honey as it will eventually caramelize, changing the flavor and color. You definitely want your honey to stay below 110F. The sweet spot is about 95F-100F. It may take some time but the honey will fully liquefy at these temps. There are many ways to do this, but we will discuss 6 of the easiest ways that gently heat the honey while retaining the quality and nutrition.
The following options fall into 2 categories: Water Baths and Radiant Heating.
Water Bath Options
- Hot Water From The Tap: Turn on the hot water from your sink and allow to run until it reaches its maximum temperature. While it's running, set your closed glass container of honey into a ceramic bowl. The larger the bowl, the longer the water will retain its heat. Fill the bowl with hot water from the tap without submerging the honey jar. Allow the bowl and honey to sit for 10-15 minutes to warm up. After this amount of time, remove the honey jar from the bowl and open it. Use a spoon to stir the honey to break up any remaining crystals and evenly distribute the heat. If not fully liquefied, repeat the process. This can sometimes be a slow process, but it is generally the easiest one.
- Boiled Water On The Stove: Repeat the process above however, you will boil a pot of water instead of getting it from the tap. This allows your water to be hotter and melt the crystals a bit faster. You may have to monitor this method a bit closer. The boiled water should be added to the bowl with the honey jar and set aside on the counter. Do not continue to heat the bowl and honey jar on the stove. Stir the honey and repeat if not fully liquefied.
- Sou Vide Machine: This is the most precise way to heat your honey with a water bath. Fill your water bath and set up your machine with a temperature of 100F-105F. Set the closed glass honey jar in the bath and let the machine do its work. Check on the honey's progress often as times will vary. It's best to start with a lower temperature and see how the honey is reacting before you turn it up. Your honey might easily liquefy at a lower temperature.
- Electric Blanket: Place your electric blanket on low and spread it out flat. Set the closed glass container of honey in the center and fold the blanket over the jar. Allow it to sit for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can include a thermometer next to the jar to monitor the temperature. Be careful as some blankets have a High setting much hotter than 110F.
- Home Radiator / Forced Air Heating: This one is a bit seasonal, but if you have radiant heat in your home, place your closed container of honey close to the radiator. A shelf above or a bookcase near the radiator can allow the honey to heat up slowly. If you have forced air heat, place your closed glass container on or near the vent. With either heat source, check the honey regularly to make sure it is not getting too hot. Stir occasionally to help evenly warm the honey and break the crystals.
- Inside A Car On A Sunny Day: This option can work even if the outside air temperature is not that hot. Place your closed jar of honey in your car out of direct sunlight. The floorboard is a great spot. You can also cover the jar on the seat with a newspaper or piece of clothing. Anything to shield it from direct sunlight. After an hour or two, check the honey and stir if necessary. During the summer, check more frequently. This method can easily liquefy large buckets of honey as car interiors can get as hot as 140F. Keep that in mind when you're just trying to de-crystallize a small jar.
Options We Do NOT Recommend
- Using A Double Boiler Or Heating Directly On The Stovetop: While a double boiler is a gentler way to heat something like honey, it is easy to heat it much higher than 110F. Heating directly on the stove will lead to fast, uneven heating and can cause part of the honey to burn before the rest even begins to warm.
- Microwaving: while microwaving might be tempting, it's not the best option as it can easily overheat and damage the honey. Even if using a low power setting and heating in short bursts, it is too uncontrolled to ensure you're not killing the living bits of your honey.
- Adding Water Directly To The Honey: adding enough water to honey will eventually dissolve the sugar crystals, but you will no longer have honey. You will have honey syrup. While this may be desirable for some recipes and cocktails, it causes the honey to be perishable because the new water content can support bacteria and yeast. Store the syrup in the refrigerator and use it within 1-2 weeks or before fermentation occurs.
- General Overheating: as we mentioned before, overheating your honey can change the flavor and color, and will likely kill or denature the beneficial nutrients present in raw honey.
- Using A Plastic Jar/Bottle: We always recommend warming honey in a container made of a material that will not leech into the honey. Warming/heating some plastics can impart chemicals into the contents of the container.
Time To Enjoy Your Honey
No matter which option you pick, remember that gentle, low heat will help ensure your honey remains pure and raw, packed with the natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc. that the bees added and preserved. You can even skip all of these options and enjoy the thick or even chunky texture naturally crystallized honey can give.
Now that you know how to liquefy crystallized raw honey, it's time to get out there and enjoy your favorite sweetener! We hope you found our complete guide helpful. If so, please share with a friend that might also benefit from some extra knowledge about honey crystallization.