Honeybees make honey as a winter food reserve when they do not have other food sources. Honey may turn hard because of the nectar or because of natural sugar crystallizing that occurs when you store honey. Either way, you can soften honey and use it again with a little effort and know how.
Honey becomes hard because of the type of nectar the bees used in making honey or because it was stored for a long time. Rapeseed produces a lot of nectar, but a hard honey. Even the softest honey will harden or crystallize over time, because as honey sits, its sugar molecules bond to form crystals, which turn the honey from a liquid to a solid.
The most effective way to loosen solidified honey is warmth. Warm water helps honey molecules loosen their bonds to one another. Place the open honey jar in a large bowl and fill the bowl with hot water up to 1 inch below the top of the jar, but do not let water enter the jar. After a few minutes, the honey should begin to soften. Use a spoon to test the honey's softness, stirring gently. If the honey is hard, replace with warm water once or twice.
Your microwave provides another easy way to soften hardened honey. Remove the lid and then place the opened honey jar in the microwave. Microwave at 50 percent power to ensure that you do not boil or burn the honey, and heat at 30-second intervals until it softens. After the first 30 seconds, use a spoon to mix the honey and repeat until the honey has become malleable. Do not microwave honey in plastic jars.
Store honey at room temperature or above 55 degrees Fahrenheit to stave off crystallization as long as possible. If you keep honey in the refrigerator, it is most likely to harden quickly. A new jar of honey will last in its liquid state for about 12 months before it begins to crystallize. This does not mean that the honey is no longer edible, but that you must soften it before using. Close the lid after every use to help prevent the honey from crystallizing.
- Beaver County Times: Warm Water Will Soften Hard Honey
- Golden Heritage Foods: FAQs; Honey Properties, Ingredients and Behavior
- University of Nebraska: Cleaning The Kitchen Cupboard: Can This Food Be Saved?
- The British Beekeepers Association: Honey
- Scientific American: Organic Honey Is A Sweet Illusion
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images