“My honey has crystallized! What do I do?”
The simple answer is that heat will melt crystallized honey. But if you want to preserve the best qualities of that raw honey, you must melt it slowly in a glass jar using low, indirect, constant heat for as long as the honey takes to decrystallize.
We get asked this question a lot. Pure, raw honey crystallizes naturally over time as the sugar “precipitates out” of the solution into crystal form.
If your honey has turned cloudy and thickened up—do not throw it out. It hasn’t spoiled! If stored properly, honey does not go bad. Crystallized honey is just as delicious as liquid honey, but if you just don’t like the texture of crystallized honey, don’t worry. You can turn it back into a liquid, but be careful—you’ll find a lot of advice out there on how to decrystallize or “fix” crystallized raw honey. Much of that advice is bad if you want to keep your honey raw.
The extra effort it takes to use low, indirect heat will be worth it! It is all too easy to overheat and potentially ruin raw honey. Many common suggestions for melting crystallized honey will change the flavor, texture, and nutritional content of your raw honey.
The Best Temperature to Liquify Raw Honey
Whether you buy raw local honey for the benefits of the pollen or if you are a gourmand with a taste for the world’s most delicious raw honey, you have excellent reasons to take extra care when decrystallizing your honey.
Pollen, propolis, antioxidants, and enzymes found in raw honey are destroyed at temperatures above 110°F. Heating honey higher than 140°F degrades the quality of the honey and temperatures above 160°F caramelize the sugars. Once caramelized, what you have in your honey jar may be sweet, but it is not really honey anymore.
The boiling point of water is 212°F. If you really want to preserve your raw honey while decrystallizing it, you can’t just drop the jar in boiling water. Most residential hot water heaters are set to 140°F so even tap water will need to be monitored closely with a thermometer if you are using it to decrystallize honey.
The secret to decrystallizing honey, without cooking it, is to put it in a warm water bath and keeping it a steady temperature–ideally between 95°F and 110°F. The process will take longer, but it will be worth it.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Decrystallize Honey
Step One: Spoon the crystallized honey into a wide-mouth glass jar. Leave space at the top of the jar as heat may cause the honey to expand. Screw the lid on tight!
Step Two: Heat a pot of water up to a temperature between 95°F and 110°F. You can create this warm water bath using one of the following devices:
- Kettle (electric or stovetop)
- Double Boiler
- Crock Pot
- Sous vide cooker
- Instant Pot
Note: The easiest way to decrystallize raw honey is to create a water bath using a sous vide cooker, yogurt maker, or other kitchen device that allows you to set and maintain a precise temperature for a long time.
Step Three: Place the jar of honey in the warm water bath. Make sure the waterline is above the level of the honey, but below the lid. You do NOT want water to get in the container.
Step Four: Leave the jars of honey sitting in the bath, stirring occasionally, until the honey reliquifies. Monitor the water temperature with a thermometer and adjust by adding hot or cool water to keep it at or below 110°F.
The length of time that your honey will take to decrystallize depends upon the amount you are liquefying. It could take a few minutes for a small portion or many hours to liquify a large jar.
No Jars? Use Bowls
If you don’t have a jar, you can use glass or ceramic bowls.
Step one: Spoon the crystallized honey into a glass or ceramic bowl.
Step two: Set the vessel holding the honey into a larger bowl. Add warm water slowly to the large bowl, making sure that water does not get into the honey container.
Step three: Check the temperature of the water, and add hot or cool water to adjust to 95°F.
Step four: Continue to check the temperature of the water, adding more warm water as necessary, or switching to a different bowl with the correct temperature of water.
Step five: Stir the honey occasionally until liquified.
A “Honey-Don’t” List
- Don’t microwave raw honey to decrystallize it. Microwave ovens cook food unevenly (that is why you have to turn your microwave dinner halfway through the cycle). You can’t control the temperature at all and are likely to scorch or boil at least some of your raw honey in a microwave.
- Don’t boil raw honey. You may be tempted to immerse your entire honey jar in boiling water, but that will destroy beneficial enzymes and other properties found only in raw honey.
- Don’t heat honey in a plastic bottle. Don’t take the risk that you’ll melt plastic into your honey.
- Don’t liquify honey over and over again. Decrystallize only what you need at a time. The flavor and aroma of the honey will fade with repeated cycles of heating and cooling (and liquefying and crystallizing).