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How to Decrystallize Honey Fast

Simone likes making DIY accessories and saving money. She likes to share her projects with fellow crafters.

Oh, no! Crystallized honey!

Oh, no! Crystallized honey!

This morning, at 6:30 am, 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!" Crystallized 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 did the following:

  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.
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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.

What about you?

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 crystallize your own honey, just place it in the refrigerator.

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