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Don’t Throw Out Crystallized Honey (Do This Instead)

Jars of crystallized honey.
inventbbart/Shutterstock

Wait, don’t throw out that crystallized honey! Believe it or not, it’s a delicacy, and there are all sorts of fantastic ways to use it. So save the bees some extra work, and learn how you can still enjoy those sweet honey crystals.

It’s always tempting to throw out the crystallized honey you find sitting in the back of your pantry. The thought of attempting to lure the sticky, hardened mass out of its plastic casing is enough to make anyone cringe in frustration. And once you get the honey out, there’s figuring out what to do with it. It’s not like it’s a flowing, amber, nectar any longer. Now, it’s a rough and lumpy goo that’s undesirably sticky and hard to handle.

But honey, even crystallized, is a phenomenal food. It’s sweet and floral and can be used in a number of dishes or enjoyed entirely on its own. So we could never advocate throwing it out. Instead, we’ve found all sorts of ways to use it. But first, why exactly does honey crystallize?

Why Honey Crystalizes

Honey is super-saturated with sugars. By merely tasting a spoonful, we could all guess that it’s incredibly sweet. But what most of us don’t realize is that solutions can’t sit for long in a super-saturated state. It’s entirely natural that the sugar crystals break out of the solution. Of course, certain conditions can force that to happen faster.

Honey with higher glucose to fructose ratios, which is entirely dependent on its source, will crystallize faster than honey with lower amounts of glucose to fructose. Any bit of pollen or flower dust that ends up in the honey during processing will also encourage faster crystallization. Storage in temperatures between 50 F and 70 F will promote more rapid crystallization, too. But of course, time is the most significant factor. The longer the honey sits, the more it will crystallize without fail.

What to Do With Crystallized Honey

But honey crystals aren’t bad. In fact, many people treasure them. So much so that they’ll purposefully quicken the crystallization process in their fresh honey jars. If that has you scratching your head, you’re not alone. Many of us have thrown out our crystallized honey jars. But, as it turns out, we’re the ones who’ve been missing out.

Toast, bagels, and muffins: No, you can’t drizzle honey granules over your yogurt in an endless amber stream, but the slightly-crunchy sugar crystals are delightful on baked goods. The texture is fantastic, and there’s no risk of it running off the bread like regular honey has a tendency to do.

Coffee, tea, and other beverages: Crystallized honey dissolves readily into warm beverages of any kind. Honey lattes with almond milk have become super trendy in coffee shops throughout the country, and crystallized honey is perfect for making one.

Chicken, beef, pork, and fish: Perhaps the best way to use crystallized honey is as a glaze. Honey goes surprisingly well with spicy ingredients like garlic or jalapeno, the same flavors you already love on savory meats and seafood. And, in granulated form, it’s easier to spread on and enjoy.

You Can Also Re-Liquefy It

Yep, it’s true. If you really don’t want to use the crystals, you can turn back the hands of time and enjoy your runny honey. It’s actually very easy to accomplish.

Place your open jar of crystallized honey in a bowl of warm water. Stir the honey as the surrounding water warms the jar. After a few minutes, you’ll be back to gooey, viscous honey.

Regardless of whether you embrace the crystals or choose to re-liquefy your jar, honey that’s turned to clumps hasn’t gone bad. Crystallization is a natural process. The fact that it’s occurring means your honey is pure, unadulterated, and processed correctly.

What you should throw out is the jar that never crystallizes. That’s mutant, brown, liquid sugar perhaps, but science says it can’t be super-saturated honey. And that’s far scarier to find in the back of your pantry than a jar of honey crystals.

So keep buying the good stuff, but don’t toss it when it granulates. Instead, pick a way to use it, or bring it back to life. Both the bees and your wallet will thank you.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »

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