Introduction: How to Decrystallize Honey
Honey is delicious. Smooth and sweet. If it sits in your cupboard too long, it could start to crystallize. This doesn't mean it is bad, you just need to fix it, decrystallize it. It is very easy to do, and doesn't take that long.
Step 1: Supplies
Not much is needed to fix your crystallized honey.
- Crystallized Honey
- Glass Jar (if honey is in a plastic container) - cover is optional and if you use one, make sure you don't put it on the jar very tight, keep it loose
- Saucepan / Pot / an Asparagus Pot also works GREAT for this as it will use much less water
We will be using the stove top, I do not know if you can use a microwave to do this, but I would think you could.
Many people in the comments also recommend just throwing your container of crystallized honey in the dishwasher and letting it sit through cycles until it is back to normal! Just make sure it is closed tightly so it doesn't leak :)
Step 2: Move to Glass Jar and Heat
If your honey is in a plastic jar, move it into a glass one. You need to be able to put it in a pan of water on the stove. I used a knife to stab the crystallized honey and scooped out what I could with a spoon that fit through the mouth of the container.
Once it is transferred to the glass container, put it in a pot of water on the stove. Now turn the stove on to low to medium heat. You want it barely simmering, no boiling [mine got a bit too hot at one point (started to try to boil) and the jar was trying to dance around in the pan so I turned it down until it stopped doing that]. Do not submerge the whole jar. I recommend having the water level up to the level of the honey if you can. Also, it is good to avoid having the jar sit on the bottom of the pan by using a trivet as sharpstick suggested in the comments. If you use an asparagus pot, it already has a nice basket in it you can put the jar on :)
Note: If you put the lid on, like I did, make sure it isn't super tight, you want to make sure air can escape and the jar doesn't explode.
Let it sit in the water for 20-30 minutes. Feel free to stir it as it sits there to help it along (probably don't want a lid on if you are going to stir it). I think mine was there for 35, but I was just being careful since it was my first time doing it. You can just set a timer and let it sit if you want. I used tongs to lift my jar up once in a while and swish the honey around to watch its progress.
Once you no longer see any crystals forming, you can turn it all off and take the jar out to cool. Your honey shouldn't recrystallize, but if it starts too, you can heat it up again on the stove until it looks right, then move it to a bowl of warm water. This will prevent it from cooling too fast.
I don't know how old of honey it will work on, but if my label is right, my honey is 4 years old and I was still able to de-crystallize it. Don't judge. It's just sugar.
Step 3: Enjoy Your Honey
Now you can take those leftover KFC biscuits you have been wanting to eat for the last few hours and finally enjoy them with honey.
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The microwave works fine too, but either way I just let it half liquify, stirring quite often, to produce creamed honey; much less messy than liquid honey, and much better for spreading on toast or whatever. I've never found a problem with repeating this process whenever needed.
The water should be no hotter than 110 or 112. Any hotter than that and you will destroy the natural health benefits.
A microwave will do the job, but do not place the plastic container with honey in a microwave with the top sealed. Remember to open it or you will have a microwave with an interior coating of your now molten honey. Trust me on this :P
Simply heating the crystalized honey will make it molten, but it will just recrystallize once it returns to room temperature. Furthermore, heating it uncovered will cause moisture loss which allows even easier crystal formation.
If you want to keep old honey fluid, you should turn the sucrose into invert syrup by acidifying it while you heat it. Add ~1/8 tsp of citric acid or cream of tartar per pound of honey and keep the temp below 140°F.
In invert sugar, the sucrose molecules are broken down into its constituent molecules of glucose and fructose. Neither of these molecules prefer to be in crystal form as much as sucrose does, and the whole mixture is actually sweeter due to fructose being ~200x sweeter on its own than sucrose.
The resulting honey will remain more fluid, taste sweeter but it may not behave entirely the same as pure honey for cooking applications where you need sugar to carmelize. It may function as a dough conditioner in baking.
If I notice my honey starting to crystallize I put the jar in my dishwasher. After a few loads it is usually back to liquid.
I always use my microwave for this purpose, and it works just fine.