If you have honey sitting around in your house that you aren’t using very quickly, you might be wondering if it’s safe to freeze the honey. Especially if your honey is crystallizing quickly and becoming difficult to use, you might be looking for ways to prevent this from happening.
You can absolutely freeze honey, and it will stop the honey from crystallizing or growing bacteria. The bad news is that freezing will make your honey very thick and difficult to pour or use when cold.
Freezing is a great way to store honey, because it inhibits the growth of bacteria within the honey that can lead to fermentation. Especially if you have raw honey that you need to store in large quantities to be sold later, or if you have simply purchased too much honey to use quickly, freezing is a great way to store it.
Why Would You Freeze Honey?
People generally freeze honey when they don’t want it to crystallize, but when they have such large amounts that they cannot use it quickly, and it crystallizes faster than they can use it. Some beekeepers also freeze honeycombs to rid them of parasites.
While raw honey does not go bad in the typical sense of the word, it does crystallize, meaning that the glucose and water in the honey separate and the glucose turns into its crystal form, much like you’d find in a bag of regular sugar. You then end up with a semi-solid, crunchy bottle of honey rather than the smooth, silky texture that people typically imagine when they think of honey.
Freezing is an excellent way to store honey because it does not damage the honey’s nutritional properties, but does inhibit bacterial growth within the honey. Additionally, freezing prevents honey from crystallizing better than keeping it at room temperature.
Can Freezing Honey Make it Crystallize?
The great thing about freezing honey is that, unlike refrigeration, freezing does not make honey crystallize. When you store your honey at room temperature, or especially in the refrigerator, your honey will eventually crystallize and become harder to pour.
While crystallization is harmless and does not mean your honey is going bad, many people prefer to keep their honey from crystallizing because of the texture difference.
Additionally, if you plan on selling your honey, it is difficult to sell if it is already crystallized. Freezing honey is a great way to preserve its texture so that you can sell the honey at a later date and not lose any money.
Does Freezing Damage Honey?
Freezing does not damage honey at all. Raw honey that goes in the freezer will come out of the freezer exactly as it was initially, with all the health benefits and antimicrobial properties intact.
Honey has a shelf life of about two years. The kicker is that it has such a long shelf life even when stored at room temperature, so you really don’t need to put it in the freezer unless you don’t have counter space to store it in a cool, dark place.
If you store it properly, it can actually last for several years longer than that. Archeologists have even found jars of honey in Ancient Egyptian tombs that are perfectly preserved and (probably) still edible! The reason why most stickers say “two years” is so manufacturers can have an easy answer to give to consumers.
Putting honey in the freezer will prolong its shelf life indefinitely, as long as you are storing it properly.
How Long Can You Freeze Honey?
Honey keeps for incredibly long periods of time at any temperature, so you can freeze your honey for as long as you need to. It will keep for months and even years in your freezer without fermenting or crystallizing.
It is important, however, to ensure that your honey is stored properly when freezing. Honey should always be stored in glass jars because they do not allow as much moisture to enter the honey as plastic jars. Moisture can encourage bacterial growth and crystallization in your honey. If you have to store honey in a plastic jar, put the plastic jar inside a Ziploc bag to prevent moisture, air, and the smells of other foods from entering your honey.
At What Temperature Does Honey Freeze?
Honey is a viscous substance, which means that it freezes into a solid at a much lower temperature than pure liquids such as water. Although it is technically a liquid, it doesn’t always act like one. Honey will turn into a glass-like solid at a temperature of -43 degrees Fahrenheit (-42 degrees Celsius). Most consumer freezers only go down to -4 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to -4 degrees Celsius).
Your honey won’t freeze solid in your freezer the way another liquid, such as soup, might. However, the colder temperature inside the freezer will still help your honey stay fresh.
How Do You Thaw Honey?
Thawing honey after it’s been in the freezer is quite simple. Hopefully your honey is stored in a glass jar already, as that is the best way to store honey. If it is not already in a glass jar, you’ll need to transfer it to one.
Once the honey is in a glass jar, simply place the whole jar into a bowl of warm water and let it sit for a while until the honey is viscous and runs easier again.
If you have no glass jar to put your honey in, you can place the plastic jar in a Ziploc bag and perform the process. However, even with two layers of plastic protecting the honey, moisture and air may leak into the honey and cause crystallization quickly.
Can You Freeze Whole Honeycombs?
Whether you’re a new beekeeper or you’ve been in the trade for a long time, you might have considered freezing your honeycombs for storage. If you’re not sure whether it’s okay to freeze honeycombs, we have answers!
It is completely fine to freeze full honeycombs in your kitchen freezer or in a larger reach-in freezer. You might want to store them long term without the honey crystallizing, or need an enclosed space where nothing will disturb your honeycombs. Either way, a freezer is a great place to store honeycombs that you aren’t going to use for a while.
Freezing Honeycombs to Kill Parasites
One of the most important reasons one might want to freeze a whole honeycomb is to kill parasites that might exist in your bee colony. If you are a beekeeper, this is an important technique to be aware of.
If you notice the signs of Varroa mites or wax moths, which are both parasites that prey on honey bees and cause widespread disease and hive damage, you should always keep any unused combs in the freezer.
The reason for this is that if you take an unused comb from an empty beehive and immediately transfer it into an active hive, you run the risk of also transferring any parasites that are present in the unused comb. This will infect your colony with mites or moths, which will then degrade your colony of bees severely.
To store honeycombs in the freezer, you’ll probably need a larger reach-in freezer unless you have a fairly large kitchen freezer. Simply place them whole into the freezer and leave them for at least twenty-four hours, and as long as you may want to store them before using them. This will kill any parasites that are present, making your combs perfect for use in you hives.
What Are the Benefits of Freezing Honey?
Storing honey properly ensures that its appearance, flavor, and nutritional value doesn’t degrade over time. A freezer protects honey from heat, light, and outside contaminants that could degrade its quality over time.
Freezing honey also helps keep it at a consistent temperature. Fluctuating temperature is the most damaging thing for honey because it leads to crystallization. If you know that your kitchen doesn’t have a consistent temperature throughout the year, storing honey in the freezer is a better choice.
Putting honey in the freezer can also free up cabinet space if you don’t have somewhere to put many jars of honey away from sunlight.
Finally, freezing honey slows down bacterial growth. Bacteria rarely forms even on room-temperature honey, but putting it in the freezer acts as an added layer of security.
What Are the Drawbacks of Freezing Honey?
There are a few drawbacks to freezing honey. One is that honey stored in cold temperatures is prone to crystallization. Crystallization is the natural process by which the sugar particles in honey can no longer dissolve in liquid. The texture of the honey changes and becomes harder and grittier. This won’t affect the taste, but it might affect your overall enjoyment of the honey.
However, honey often crystallizes even when left out on the counter, so putting it in the freezer doesn’t mean that you are doomed to have gritty honey. Usually, the reason honey in the freezer crystallizes is because it isn’t stored properly or the temperature around it fluctuates too often. If you can, put your honey in a storage freezer that you don’t open as often as the attachment in your fridge where you keep your ice cream. Make sure that the jar is tightly sealed and there’s no extra moisture on the honey.
To crystalize honey, you need cool temperatures and moisture, so preventing crystallization is as easy as keeping it dry. Even if your honey becomes granulated, crystallization is easily reversible. To reverse crystallization, put your honey in a bowl of warm water and gently heat it until it liquifies again.
The other drawback of freezing honey is that you can’t have it any time that you want! You need to let the honey thaw to room temperature before using it, and once it thaws, you can’t freeze it again. If you have just one jar of honey that you take a spoonful from every so often for your tea, putting it in the freezer is a waste of time and space.
Will Freezing Honey Reduce Its Nutritional Value?
Some people are afraid of storing honey in the freezer because they think that honey will lose its nutrients after storage at such a low temperature. However, this is an old wives’ tale. Honey will not lose any of its nutritional properties in a freezer. If anything, its nutritional and antimicrobial properties are better preserved in the freezer because it is away from sunlight and heat, which degrade honey.
While nutrients will not degrade in frozen honey, the texture and flavor might if you freeze the honey improperly. Be sure to follow proper storage tips before putting honey in the freezer.
When Should You Freeze Honey?
Freezing honey won’t hurt the honey in any way, but it isn’t always practical. Here’s a few factors to consider when deciding if you want to put it in the freezer or just store it on your counter.
The most important factor is how much honey you have. If you have only one small jar of honey that you use regularly, freezing it isn’t practical because using it gets difficult. However, freezing honey is a great way to store excess honey, for example if you bought many jars from a local beekeeper or bought a large container. Pour enough honey for your daily use into a separate, smaller container, then store the rest in the freezer.
Remember, once you thaw honey you can’t freeze it again. If you have plenty of honey, pour it into several smaller glass jars before freezing so you can just thaw out containers as needed.