How to soften hard honey: vintage vs. modern methods

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Much to my dismay this weekend, I found that my lovely jar of Croatian honey had crystallized!

I am ashamed to admit that in my earlier, pre-Vintage Amanda days I had actually thrown out a half-used jar of honey because it went hard.  (I know, I know, I’m cringing now too).

But now that I’m enlightened and eco-conscious (or at least thrifty), I decided to try two ways of softening this jar of honey to see which is best.

Can I still eat crystallized (hardened) honey?

Yes!  When your honey has gone hard or solid, it’s simply crystallized.  You can still eat this honey, stir it into your tea, or even use hard honey as a gentle face scrub.

 

How can I soften hard honey?

There are two techniques that I’m testing today.  The traditional method of heating the honey in a bain-marie, and the faster, modern method of the microwave!

 

How to soften hard honey with hot water

1) Traditional Technique: Sit honey in a bowl of hot water until it softens

Softening hard honey in a bowl of hot water

Result: After one hour of sitting in the water, the honey was only somewhat softened.  OK, maybe I should have used a bigger bowl. Or better yet, I should have put it in a pan of boiling water, so the water would remain hot.  This method will work, but it’s slow-going.

How to soften hard honey using the microwave

2. Modern Method: Microwave!

Admittedly, this method worked really well.  I put the honey in the microwave on medium for about 1 minute, and voila, liquid honey!

This worked so well because my honey is in a glass jar.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to microwave plastics (because some chemicals from the plastic may leech into the honey).  So if you’re dealing with a plastic honey container, I suggest the hot water method instead (the water should be hot, but not so hot that it melts the plastic!)

What is the best way to soften hard honey?

In this case, the modern microwave method won, hands-down.  Softening the honey in the microwave was really quick, and it is still liquid the next morning.

However – many people question whether microwaving damages the nutritional benefits of foods.  If you are using the honey to get medicinal/health benefits, then I would not microwave the honey – use the hot water method instead!

Now that you’ve got some runny honey, what will you do with it?  How about using it as a beauty treatment?  Or making a tasty hot drink?

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Amanda

Amanda Cook is a Certified Holistic Health Coach specializing in natural beauty and herbal remedies, and the creator of VintageAmanda.com. She works with women worldwide through online and in-person workshops, and individual coaching. She also teaches health + wellness entrepreneurs to grow a healthy business online.

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11 Responses to How to soften hard honey: vintage vs. modern methods

  1. Thelma says:

    Just can you heat honey more then once since it do thicken over time…Thanks!

  2. Jim says:

    I think the honey becomes hard because they use sugar to feed the bees.

    • Rebecca "Becky's Bees" says:

      As a beekeeper there are alot of myths or assumptions of why honey crystallizes. While there are some beekeepers who do use sugar to feed their bees and this can advance the crystallization process. The main reason the honey crystallizes is because of the amount of water remaining in the honey when the bees prepared the honey. In other words, if the water content is very low then the process will be hastened. Yes, I did say water – most don’t realize that the bees need water to make honey. However, never add water to your honey as it will sour. The crystallization refers to what the bees were working as flowers vary in their natural sugar content. Some honey can take years to crystallize while others take only a few months. Also there is the temperature issue of when honey is stored. If temps drop below 70 degrees then the honey crystallization process will speed up. I have never used sugar to feed my bees. I have a couple of jars left from 2 years ago when I harvested that have never turned to sugar yet – I have some jars from this past years harvest that turned to sugar within 2 months. Just wanted to clarify and hopefully inform others about the process of crystallization.

      If it does turn to sugar all one has to do is bring a saucepan of water to almost boiling. Turn off burner and remove from heat. Open lid of honey jar (glass) and place in pan. Allow water to cool. Remove jar from water then stir. You may need to repeat process once more before honey fully liquifies.

  3. Jess says:

    I have a friend who’s a beekeeper, and she told me to make sure that the lid is on really tight, then put it in the dishwasher with a load of dishes…I’ve used this method many times and it works great!

  4. Varsakelis Ignatios says:

    I love your articles,I learn a lot of new things.Honey that doesn’t crystallize isn’t pure,it probably containes glycose or something else. 20 or 30 in the oven at low temperature 50′or 60′C does a wonderful job also..

  5. Jenny says:

    Heating is the same whether done in the microwave or in hot water on the stove. So if you heat the water to boiling on the stove, it will kill good bacteria and enzymes just like the microwave.

  6. John Burns says:

    I like to use hot water-I buy it in a plastic jug and when it starts to harden I put the jug in hot water in the sink. Then when it is soft-I turn it over into a mason jar. If it all does not all fall out-well I do it again until all is in the jar-Then you can put the jar in hot water on your stove. Now when I get the honey home _ the 1st thing I do is put it in a mason jar(wide mouth) then I do not have a problem. I can heat it anytime I wish to…

  7. sharon says:

    I truly like this site

  8. sharon says:

    When u use a microwave to heat honey it destroys the enzymes in the honey and it no longer medicinal yet it stikk taste good. so u have consider what u are doing with it.

  9. Amanda says:

    Yikes. Hope it worked better once you removed the cap! If you can’t, guess you have to try the water method…

  10. Robert says:

    For what it’s worth, this afternoon I had a plastic bottle of honey shaped like a bear from the grocery store, and the honey is completely chunky and hard. I put it in the microwave for 8 seconds, but after 3-4, I started seeing sparks. The plastic around the rim where the cap is was burned! I’m guessing the cap ( which I left on, but opened) has a metallic ring around it that I didn’t see.

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