Hello Bee Boxers!
One of the most common questions we get here at The Bee Box is, "Does honey ever go bad?"
The short answer: Never!
Pure honey is one of those unique, self-preserving, magically delicious things that will last a lifetime. Seriously, just ask our friend King Tut.
But how does honey maintain its pure, delicious quality forever? Let's break it down:
1. Honey is pure, all-natural sugar. Because of this, it contains very little moisture. Honey also has a The lack of moisture on the surface prevents bacteria and microorganisms from growing. If honey were to be exposed to the bacterium, it would quickly die on the surface, preventing the honey from spoiling.
To make honey, the bees consume nectar from wildflowers and then process it in their specialized stomachs. They breakdown the complex sugars into simple sugars by adding specialized enzymes. After being broken down several times, the honeybees then regurgitate it and store it in the honeycomb. At this point, the moisture content of the honey is actually quite high - in order for the honey to preserve, a bee will fan it with it's wings until it drys out and becomes the sweet, sticky consistency that we know honey as.
2. Honey has an average pH of around 4. The honey changes when the bees transform the nectar and add enzymes to it to break it down before it is finally stored in the honeycomb. This provides a bigger boost to the antibacterial properties of honey when used homeopathically.
3. Crystallization is the natural, self-preservation quality of honey. The simplified sugars combined with it's low water content is a condensed make it extremely saturated with sugar to the point when it's almost a solid. Over time, the natural glucose will separate from the small amount of moisture naturally in the honey, to form crunchy crystals. The honey is still perfectly fine to eat, (some people even prefer it in a crystallized state... can you say Creamed Honey?)
So now that we know honey never goes bad, and crystallization is natural, how do we get honey back into that liquid state?
If you have a jar go honey at home that has crystallized and prefer it in a liquid state, fear not! Here's a few simple ways to de-crystallize your honey (Note, this only works for glass jars; it is not recommended to heat plastic jars):
1. Bring a pot of water to a warm simmer, never boil. Once your water is warm, take the top off of your glass honey jar and place in the pot of warm water. Leave the jar in the water until the honey has become liquid again.
2. Try the all-natural way and harness the power of the sun. (This is my preferred method of de-crystallization.) Leave your honey jar in sunny window, for 6+ hours a day. In about 3 days, (less in summer,) you should have the entire jar ready for use. You can even leave the honey jar stored on a sunny windowsill year round to prevent crystallization by keeping your honey nice and warm!
*Helpful Hint* It is not enough for the honey to simply become pourable again, it must also become clear again. When first added to heat, will the crystals on the outside of the jar will melt quickly. The crystals inside the jar however may in fact still be intact. In order to prevent the jar from recrystallizing quickly once again, you must leave the jar exposed to the heat until all the crystals inside have been melted down. The easiest way to know is to hold the jar up to the light and check for rouge, floating crystals.
Raw, Crystallized Honey
Partially De-Crystallized Honey, After 2 Days in the Warm Sun
100% Pure, De-Crystallzied Honey