How to Decrystalize Honey Fast

This morning, at 6:30am, I sat bolt upright in bed, eyes wide in wild terror. "My GOD," I thought. "It's Bread Baking Saturday and my honey is completely crystallized!"

Crystalized honey is going to do nothing to help yeast activate for a whole wheat bread recipe. I needed to decrystallize my honey, and I needed to decrystallize it fast.

It is common convention that one decrystallizes honey by placing the jar in a pan of simmering water. Some people also microwave jars of honey for short periods of time until the honey is malleable but not hot. I could not resort to either of these methods for three reasons:

  1. I ain't no fancy pants aristocrat, hence my honey comes in a cheap plastic container, which would NOT do well in simmering water OR the microwave (it's a bad idea to microwave plastic containers unless they're BPA-free and specially designated as microwave-safe).
  2. Even if my honey were in a glass jar, I would not want to wait around while I heated the whole thing.
  3. I only needed to decrystallize a small dab of honey (43 grams, to be precise) for my bread recipe. Why decrystallize the whole dang thing?

And hence, I resorted to a method of my own invention to get my loaf started promptly and successfully.

Kettle to the rescue!
Kettle to the rescue!

How to decrystallize small batches of honey very quickly without a microwave

To quickly liquedate the honey I needed for my recipe, I...

  1. Filled my electric kettle with water and got it heating up
  2. Measured out the 43 grams of honey I needed for my beloved whole wheat bread into a small, shallow, glass bowl
  3. Placed the glass bowl within a larger shallow ceramic bowl
  4. Waited for my water to boil, then poured the water into the larger bowl
  5. Watched my honey quickly decrystallize while occasionally stirring it with a butter knife and switching out the rapidly cooling water with more hot water

One might adopt the same approach by placing the honey in a glass bowl over a small pan of simmering water, but my electric kettle boils water so quickly, this was faster. Within five minutes, my honey was smooth and ready to go, and I had much less of a struggle pouring it than I would have even if it were in its normal, original state.

Watch that honey decrystallize! YAY!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Within seconds, you can see the honey begin to soften.Softer and softer....Look! No more shapes!Keep changing out the hot water to keep the progress up.If you get impatient, perhaps a bit of mixing will help!Oh look! Nice, clear edges!DONE!!
Within seconds, you can see the honey begin to soften.
Within seconds, you can see the honey begin to soften.
Softer and softer....
Softer and softer....
Look! No more shapes!
Look! No more shapes!
Keep changing out the hot water to keep the progress up.
Keep changing out the hot water to keep the progress up.
If you get impatient, perhaps a bit of mixing will help!
If you get impatient, perhaps a bit of mixing will help!
Oh look! Nice, clear edges!
Oh look! Nice, clear edges!

What about you?

How do you de-crystallize your honey?

  • I microwave it in the jar!
  • I put the jar in a pan of simmering water
  • I put the jar in a bowl of hot water
  • I put just a small amount in a bowl, and put that bowl into another bowl of hot water or over a pan of simmering water
  • I put a small amount into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it
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Tips on the More Conventional Methods

If you would rather just decrystallize ALL of your honey, and have it in a nice glass (instead of cheap plastic) jar, here are some tips on decrystallizing it successfully:

  • Be careful about putting what may be a cool jar into very hot water. It might crack if there is too large of a temperature differential, so consider leaving the jar in the pan as you bring the water to a simmer.
  • You might also consider putting the jar in just-simmered water to avoid the shock of very different temperatures.
  • Do not put a plastic bottle in a pan of simmering water or the microwave.
  • If you microwave your honey to revive it, lower the power intensity, and microwave for only seconds at a time, checking between increments.
  • If you would like to decrystallize a small amount, but don't have hot water on hand, put it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it at reduced power for 5-10 second increments until malleable.
  • If you want to de-crystallize an entire jar but don't have a stove handy, place the jar in a deep bowl and pour hot water from an electric kettle into the bowl.

Does Honey Go Bad?

No, honey does not go bad. Many people suffer from a common misconception that crystallized honey has somehow 'gone bad'. This could not be further from the case!

In fact, some honeys which have been treated (by being heated to 180 degrees and passed through a very fine filter) to not crystallize as easily are missing out on a lot of enzymes and pollen particles that bring better flavors and smells to honey. So if you honey crystallizes, you should take it as a good sign!

Why Does Honey Crystallize?

Honey naturally crystallizes. In fact, honeybees keep their hives pretty warm (around 93 degrees) to keep their honey nice and liquid.

When left to cool, honey crystallizes (which means that seed crystals within the honey, which are small pieces of crystal, sort of help the cold honey form into a crystal lattice around them).

The temperature at which this happens will vary depending on the seed crystals in the honey (it may crystallize if temperatures dip below 70 degrees, even!), though the crystallizing tipping point typically ranges from 40-45 degrees (which is around what my apartment gets to when I decide to add some Dikensian flare by leaving my wall heater off on winter days. Something I adversely enjoy).

Crystallized honey is by no means 'worse' than more viscous honey. Actually, in some places, it is common to see crystallized honey sold in grocery stores (it is often referred to as "creamed honey" in this state).

If you would like to crystalize your own honey, just place it in the refrigerator.

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Comments 13 comments

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

An interesting thing happened to my last jar of honey. It grew mold on it, something that I would have not thought possible. But after talking to my husband, when it had crystallized, he had heated it in the microwave. I think he must have gotten it too hot and killed everything beneficial about it - including its bacteria fighting abilities. So yes, you do need to be careful when heating - too hot is not good!

Peter Allison profile image

Peter Allison 4 years ago from Alameda, CA

Good advice for people who love honey. I get honey from a local 'grower' who has his bees right in back of his house in Alameda and he totally supports this method. Myself, I like the convenience of pouring the liquidy honey on cereal, oatmeal etc but really like crystallized honey to spread on vegetables - like Cabbage, squash, onions when I grill them. Seriously, spread cabbage with crystallized honey, wrap it in foil and grill it - amazing. Apologies for the over the top response here!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

I always keep my honey in the refrigerator to keep it from going bad, and of course it crystalizes. So that made me interested in reading your Hub. And I learned a few things from you that I never knew. First of all, I know, now, that I don't need to worry about the honey going bad. And you also taught me that honey that's treated so it doesn't crystallize is missing important enzymes. I never knew that. Now I'm going to look for that creamed honey next time I go shopping. But I hope you don't expect me to get up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday to bake bread.

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 4 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

We keep our own bees and we do nothing to it. It starts life liquid then, as winter comes and temperatures drop it crystallizes naturally. We now have nice, solid sugary honey. If you re-heat you loose some of the goodness. On the other hand, if you have standard honey and really want it runny then heating it very gently is the way to go.

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 4 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Microwaving the amount needed is safe fast and easy about 10 seconds at high and voila.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Wow, I can't believe the honey actually got mold on it, homesteadbound! Perhaps an external contaminant got into the jar? I can't imagine how microwaving alone might have caused that. Yikes!

And oooh! I know one family who manages a bee hive in Alameda, too. I wonder if we're thinking of the same folks! And this is fascinating... crystallized honey on veggies? I've never seen ANY honey on vegetables before... intriguing!

Yep- no need to refrigerate that stuff, Glenn Stok! And hahaa, I'll get up at 6:30 and bake bread so YOU DON'T HAVE TO! Boy, I love doing it.

Oh my gosh, Les Trois Chenes... just when I think you can't get even cooler, you whip out something like this... you really raise your own bees? So neat.

True indeed, Dave Mathews! Microwaves can be pretty convenient for a bunch of stuff. I honestly wonder why I avoid using mine whenever possible...

livelonger profile image

livelonger 4 years ago from San Francisco

Great advice - I love the time-lapse photography of your sugar decrystallizing! I admit I do the 5-second bursts in the microwave method. If you don't watch it, the container will swell up and ooze out honey, or, even worse, burst. I'll probably do what you suggested next time.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Whoah- bursting honey containers! Sounds scary. Yeah, this method is pretty solid, and great for smaller batches. I highly recommend it!

Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 4 years ago from Northeastern United States

Gotta be careful. Heating honey for too long can start a fire with black soot. I did it, accidentally, years ago. Yikes! Scary!

faythef profile image

faythef 3 years ago from USA

Wow..I didn't know that you could revitalize honey...I always threw it out ..thinking it was bad..thanks for the tips ...

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Funny I saw this hub. Today I was looking at my crystallized honey thinking I was going to have to do something. I need it for my sweet rolls in the morning. Now I can follow the way you did it. Voted up.

naej 2 years ago

Actually I found it interesting that most sites that seem to be people who produce honey say that you should never microwave honey. When you do it becomes a simple gold sweetener without all of the properties that make honey beneficial. This is because of the way microwaves heat food.

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great ideas Simone. This is quite interesting to know about crystallized honey methods. Voted up!

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