What To Do With Crystallized Honey

I was getting ready to make my Grandma Yetta’s Passover honey cake recipe when I hit a roadblock: we had crystallized honey. Literally, every honey jar or container in the pantry I reached for had gone from a liquid to being crystallized.

I thought I would need to go buy more. However, I learned there are ways to bring honey back to its liquid form. Some are easier than others, based on what kind of container the honey is in.

bottles of crystallized honey
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Why does honey crystallize?

According to the National Honey Board, honey crystallization is all about storage. That is, over time, honey tends to darken, lose its aroma and flavor, and possibly crystallize. However, this is no indication as to whether or not the honey is still good. Some honey is good for years on end.

In my pantry I have three containers of honey I’d considered using. They are:

  • Kirkland Organic Raw Honey from Costco
  • Hannaford Pure Clover Honey
  • 100% Raw Manuka Honey

What really matters is how we’ve stored this honey that has crystallized. Here’s what the National Honey Board says:

“Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries!”

National Honey Board

And right away I know that the 100% Raw Manuka Honey needs to go in the trash. Because when I pulled it out of the pantry, I could see that the top was askew.

manuka honey with top askew and arrow pointing it out.
Notice the top that’s askew. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Whoever used it last — and I’m not pointing any fingers because it could have been me — didn’t put the top back on securely. Truth is, I don’t remember when that last time was and I’m not going to risk it.

That leaves me with two plastic bottles of crystallized honey that I need to bring back to life so I can make my grandmother’s Passover honey cake.

How to fix crystallized honey

To fix crystallized honey is to bring it back to its liquid form. Sure, you can still bake with it when it is solid. However, getting accurate measurements is challenging. Therefore, I feel much more comfortable with liquifying it.

If you’re working with a glass jar, then you can use short bursts of time in the microwave. Try the “add 30 seconds” option on the keypad. After each 30-second burst, check to see how the honey is looking. Once it is back to liquid, you’re good to go.

On the other hand, when you’ve got plastic bottles of honey as I do, then you’ve got to be much more careful. It’s super easy to melt a plastic bottle in the microwave as you’re trying to smooth out those honey crystals. That’s why I prefer using a stovetop pot instead.

Another way to fix crystallized honey? Turn it into whipped honey.

Steps to liquefy crystallized honey

It took me under five minutes to turn my crystallized honey back into liquid form. All I needed was a saucepan with water, a wooden spoon and a pair of tongs.

One, place the plastic bottle of honey you want to de-crystallize in your saucepan. Do this before adding water. You’re putting the bottle in there to eyeball how much water you need in the pan to cover the bottle.

Two, once you’ve figured that out, remove the bottle or container of honey and fill the pan with water.

Three, place the pan on your cooktop and bring almost to a boil. Once the water is there, turn the heat off.

Four, place the bottle of honey, with the top securely closed, into the water. Stir it gently with a wooden spoon.

Five, once it looks like the honey has started to change from crystal to liquid form, remove the bottle from the hot water bath. Squeeze out to test.

Liquid gold results

When I got to step five, I was able to squeeze out a few teaspoons of honey but not nearly enough for Grandma Yetta’s recipe. It calls for a whole cup of honey. So, I resubmerged the container in the hot water bath and kept checking on it until the entire jar was re-liquified.

crystallized honey before and after
Before and after. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Even though I did end up getting the honey back to liquid form, it was still a big chunky. Nonetheless, I could measure out the cup that I needed to make the cake. Also, I learned that as the cake cooks, any remaining crystals will melt.

Finally, having liquid honey once again meant that if I was going to brew some tea, it was ready for me to measure out and use.

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