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  • Writer's pictureNona Spillers

Honey Never Goes Bad!

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

One of the most wonderful things about honey is that it never goes bad! I’m a foodie, not a chemist, so you’re going to read about the delicious changes in form that honey can take - not a molecular study of things!

Are you sure it’s not bad?

Yes, honey is low moisture and high sugar which means that troublesome bacteria cannot grow. Honey is antibacterial in nature and can even be used to help heal wounds. Even honey found in ancient Egyptian tombs was edible.

Crystalized (Crunchy) Honey

If your honey has become solid…what you have is crystallized honey.

Honey is made from nectar which is about 80% water. Bees collect the nectar and pass it from bee to bee and then store it in their honeycomb. Honeybees dry the liquid inside the hive until it reaches 17-18% moisture. Then they seal the hexagonal cell with a wax capping that preserves it until the hive needs it.

When honey has less moisture than 17-18% the sugars begin to crystalize. You can either have little sweet nuggets in your honey or the whole jar can become solid.

Making it Liquid Again

I really enjoy crystalized honey in my morning cup of tea or on toast. But if you want to return your honey to its original liquid form just put the jar (preferably glass) in a warm water bath.

We keep our honey in mason jars. I fill a sauce pan up with water just past the point in the jar where the crystals are. Put that pan on the smallest burner on your stove on the lowest heat for 15-20 minutes.

This low heat approach keeps as many of the wonderful benefits that honey gives our bodies in tact. If you use high heat, you still get the flavor, but sacrifice the beneficial enzymes.

There is loads written on the subject…here are three good perspectives:

What causes low moisture? From our experience, we keep bees in Texas where we have dozens of Summer days over 100F degrees. That kind of heat can dry honey before and after it is capped. I’m certain there are other factors -but that is our reality!

Whipped Honey

If you happen to like whipped honey - you need some crystals to get the process started. Whipped honey is just that - honey that has had air whipped into it. The crystals help create a fluffy, light texture and almost white color. You can make whipped honey in your home mixer. If you're going to use your whipped honey immediately, let it run on high for 30 minutes to an hour. To avoid separation over time you'll need to let it whip for a few hours.

What if my honey ferments?

Going the other direction - if honey is to wet, or more than 18% moisture and exposed to warm temperatures - it can ferment. Fermentation is a hot topic right now as there are lots of health benefits offered by that process. A quick google search will yield information and recipes for loads of flavored fermented honeys and even mead, an alcoholic beverage.

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