In episode 27, Kathy discusses what happens when honey crystallizes and what to do with the crystals.
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Articles about honey bees and honey
In this episode you'll learn:
- Why honey crystallizes
- Difference between raw honey and store bought honey
- Best temperature to store honey
- If crystallized honey is bad
- How to get rid of the crystals in honey
- How long raw honey lasts
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Hi, and welcome back to Preserving the Pantry. I want to talk today about honey.
Now we have honey bees. We have a few different hives, and every year, if I'm lucky, I can harvest honey off of those hives. And each hive, well, depends, the yield varies, but I can get several gallons of honey on a good year from a hive.
That's a lot of honey and I give my honey away, but I have several gallons still stored in my pantry in the basement. I keep most of those in quart size, canning jars with lids on them.
One thing that does happen with honey though is it begins to crystallize over time. Now the crystallization of honey is, you'll notice it's starting to get little crystals, sugar crystals in the honey, and the honey will start to become thicker and may even look a little bit cloudy.
This is totally natural and it happens with raw honey, and it doesn't mean that your honey is bad. In fact, your honey is still good. The taste is still there. All of the great benefits that you get from honey are still there, but the texture is different. You can use this honey just like you normally would, and you can add it to your oatmeal, you can add it to your tea.
I use it still in my baking, but if you want a really nice, smooth texture in your honey, there is a way to get rid of those crystal. The crystallization of honey is totally natural and happens. Part of it is because honey is such a super saturated sugar, it's over 70% sugar and very little percentage of water.
The benefits of raw honey are that it just doesn't ever go bad. You can find honey that's hundreds of years old, that's still really good as long as you keep it in a container with a lid on it. Honey, if you were to keep honey in an open container in a very high humid environment, that honey's going to start to absorb that humidity.
That extra humidity added to the honey could actually allow your honey to spoil. So if you are storing your honey in one of those cute little honey jars, those little crocks that have a, a lid on it that you can put, you know, dip your little honey dipper into it. Use just a small amount in there because unless you're using that up and if you are in a area with high humidity, that honey in those little honey crocks.
They're not totally sealed. So if that could go bad in a regular jar, it's not going to go bad. The reason that honey itself doesn't go bad is one is the honey itself has almost no moisture, very little moisture in it. It's also, it's very acidic. It has a pH level between three and 4.5. So bacteria and different microorganisms just can't survive in that type of environment.
All raw honey will eventually crystallize. It's just a matter of time, the type of honey it is and the temperature that your honey is stored in. The ideal temperature for the honey to crystallize is in is between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and fortunately where I store my honey. It's about that temperature, so I tend to get that crystallization.
There's a lot of different factors that are going to go into that. If you have a place where you can store your honey that's 70 degrees Fahrenheit, that's probably ideal for minimizing the crystallization of your honey.
So when you find that your honey has crystallized again, it has not gone bad. Do not let that honey go to waste. Use it as it is. If you want to get rid of the crystals, there are a couple things that you can do. Now, first of all, store bought honey usually does not crystallize, and that's for a couple of different reasons.
First of all, store bought honey is often pasteurized, which means it's heated to very high temperatures and then sealed.
It's filtered multiple times, which means really all you're left with is the pure sugar of the honey, and it still tastes great, but all those benefits that you get from raw, natural honey are gone from that pasteurization and extra filtering. The honey that I'm talking about is raw honey.
Sometimes you can find this at a store or you can find it from a local honey maker or, um, anybody that raises honey usually has a raw honey. So you want to still maintain those benefits of raw honey.
So do not put your honey in the microwave that heats it unevenly and then also you'll start to lose some of those benefits of the raw honey.
One method that I do use is I will take a small amount of the honey, maybe one to two cups. You don't want to do too much at once because the crystallization will. return over time, and if you keep doing this process multiple times, eventually your honey, the quality of your honey will start to break down.
So put a small amount into a jar. I use my canning jars and I put, I just scoop it out and put it into a jar and I put a lid on that jar so that I don't get any moisture into that. I place my honey either in a bowl of hot tap water that covers the jar just above the level of the honey, and I just let it sit there.
Or I've also done it where I've put it into a pot of water with the water just above again, the level of the honey. And I put it at a very, very, very low temperature. I have a very small burner on my gas stove that's called a simmer burner, and I just put that on just so that my temperature of my water maintains about a hundred to 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and I just keep it there.
Sometimes I turn it off if I feel like it's getting too hot, and that will slowly begin to equalize the sugars in that honey and break down those crystals, making it nice and smooth. Now again, Those crystals will return over time. So it's not a long-term solution, but it will make your honey nice and smooth for right away.
Honey has some amazing qualities when it's raw, natural honey, and you don't want to lose any of those, but you still want to be able to use your honey for here on out.
And remember, your honey does not go bad, but it may have those crystals in there. I hope that you are able to use your honey for a long time.
I'll see you next week in the pantry.
Thanks for listening, and be sure to tune in again next week for more episodes of Preserving the Pantry.