A spoonful of a product you probably already have in your cabinet can prevent (or reverse) the crystallization of honey as it ages.
Honey is the only food product that never goes bad, though, if you’ve ever discovered a jar of honey forgotten in the back of a cabinet, you might doubt it based on looks. Aged honey turns to an unappetizing, crystallized mess- making it impossible to pour, or still.
Experimenting with Honey Crystal Prevention
When I saw Alton Brown make simple syrup on Good Eats, on the way explaining the process behind sugar crystallization, it sparked an idea for dealing with the stockpile of crystalized honey I had in my pantry. In his simple syrup, Alton used a tiny amount of glucose (aka corn syrup) to change the chemistry of his sugar-syrup enough that the solution became inhospitable for the formation of sugar crystal molecules. I began to wonder if the same method that prevents crystallization in simple syrup would “fix” crystallized honey.
Research: Determined to know, I asked a beekeeping friend if adding corn syrup to honey would change the chemical makeup enough to prevent crystallization. Horrified, he began ranting about purity, marketing, and the shady business of corporate food company labeling, so I decided I’d just stay quiet and experiment.
Hypothesis: Honey crystals can easily be melted with heat, but I wondered if the same basic chemistry that prevented crystallization of simple syrup could rescue honey that had turned from liquid to a semi-solid state. Three years after my original test of this hypothesis, I can confirm that this method works to fix crystalized honey and prevent re-crystallization when it is returned to storage. see if the honey recrystallized, and the theory seems to be a success. Below, I demonstrate this method step by step.
Steps to Fix and Stabilize Crystalized Honey
Honey – either crystallized or a batch you want to prevent from crystallizing.
STEP 1. Melt Existing Honey Crystals
Scoop crystallized honey into a clean saucepan.
Over medium-low heat, warm the honey, stirring occasionally, until the heat breaks up the sugar crystals and the honey is a smooth liquid.
STEP 2. Add Corn Syrup to Warmed Honey
Add a small amount of corn syrup to the warmed honey. (No exact measurement required. For my approximately 3/4 cup honey I used 1 tablespoon).
Only a small amount is required to disrupt the crystallization process of sugar. This small amount of corn syrup will not affect the flavor of the honey.
Stir to combine
You can add fresh honey if you’d like to prevent future crystallization of fresh honey. When I go through these steps with old crystallized honey, I try to save myself some future work by adding fresh honey to the batch- to keep it from later crystalizing.
Step 3: Decant into Clean Dry Jars
Pour honey into a clean jar.
If you’re processing a large amount of honey, try pouring a portion of the honey over a jar filled with fresh herbs like sage or rosemary. Left undisturbed for several months, the honey will preserve the herbs and the herbs will infuse intense flavor into the honey. Warm and strain before serving with rustic bread, cheese, or fruit.
Then seal and enjoy! Three steps and one extra ingredient is all it takes to restore crystallized honey to a viscous liquid state and change the chemical makeup enough to prevent crystallization, but not so much that it changes the flavor.