Honey's fructose caramelizes similar to sucrose -- or table sugar -- going from colorless to dark caramel and from odorless to complexly aromatic with nothing more than heat, but it does so faster and at a lower temperature. Honey caramelizes in about 1 to 2 minutes at around 240 degrees Fahrenheit -- considerably less than table sugar's 350-F-caramelization point. Honey isn't as forgiving as table sugar when it comes to time and temperature, though, and cooking it for as little as a minute over the recommended 1 to 2 minutes at more than 250 F causes the honey to scorch.
Things You'll Need
- Honey in a glass jar
- Heavy-bottomed sauce pan
- Silicone-coated or wooden spoon
Fill a saucepan about half full of water and place it on the stove. Place an open jar of honey directly in the water and bring it to a boil.
Turn the heat off after the water starts to boil and let the jar of honey sit for a couple minutes. Pour the honey in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Honey expands as it simmers. Use a saucepan large enough so the honey doesn't reach more than halfway up the sides.
Scrape the remaining honey from the jar using a silicone-coated or wooden spoon and add 1 tablespoon of water per pint. Attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan and set the heat to low.
Heat the honey until it reaches between 240 and 250 F without stirring it, increasing the heat from low to medium-low. Honey starts to boil at around 240 F.
Simmer the honey at 240 to 250 F for 1 to 2 minutes or until it reaches the desired caramelization. You can tell the level of caramelization by color and aroma.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit undisturbed until it cools to warm. Moving the honey too much or stirring it as it cools causes it to crystallize. You want the caramelized honey a little warm so you can pour it in the storage container or jar easily.
Pour the honey into a jar or jars and store the honey at room temperature. Caramelized honey keeps indefinitely.
Tips & Warnings
- The honey will darken a few shades from its original color, but there isn't a definitive color of caramelized honey. For example, a light honey turns dark golden brown when caramelized, whereas a dark golden honey will turn a near-mahogany color after it caramelizes.
- The aroma of caramelized honey is deeper, richer and more complex than uncaramelized honey, but it doesn't have a scorched smell. If you smell the honey scorching, take it off the heat immediately and stir it vigorously for a couple minutes to cool it down.
- Exercise caution when working around simmering honey. Never touch hot honey with your hands or spill it. Always let the honey reach a slightly warm temperature before touching it; never handle it while it's hot.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images