Seasoned beekeepers know that harvesting and extracting honey is not the last part of the honey collection process. This is because you need to make sure you know how to properly store your honey in order to keep it in top condition and quality over a long period of time. So do you need to refrigerate raw honey? Or is there another way to store it properly?
Honey does not need to be refrigerated. In fact, most experts say that storing raw honey in the refrigerator is a bad idea because it can harden and crystallize, making it difficult to work with. The key here is to make sure you protect raw honey from heat and moisture.
We often consider refrigerating different types of foods if we want them to have a longer shelf life, but most people tend to avoid refrigerating raw honey as it’s simply not necessary. In fact, honey is best stored at room temperature and under proper conditions. With that in mind, we’re here to discuss why you shouldn’t refrigerate raw honey and how you should store it.
Do You Need To Refrigerate Raw Honey?
The life of a beekeeper is often an endless cycle of tending bees and collecting honey from the hive. After the honey is harvested, the next step for beekeepers is to extract the honey for further processing into a form that is safe to eat. But that’s not the end of the whole process.
Yes, this is correct. The process does not end with the extraction and bottling of the honey. Instead, you need to ensure that you store your honey properly to keep it in top condition, whether you’re storing it for personal consumption or selling it later for some profit.
Do you need to refrigerate raw honey in this regard? After all, we’re used to refrigerating many different foods, whether they’ve been opened or not. This is because most types of foods need to be refrigerated, as low temperatures allow them to last longer without spoiling. In this regard, the purpose of refrigerating food is actually to prolong its lifespan and prevent it from spoiling quickly, as higher room temperature can easily accelerate bacterial growth.
However, what you need to know about honey is that this food will never go bad as long as you make sure to store it properly. In fact, honey was found in ancient Egyptian tombs but was still edible 3,000 years later, mainly because it was stored in a place where it could be kept indefinitely. As a result, honey is one of the longest-lived foods on the planet and almost never spoils as long as it is stored under optimal conditions. You can even enjoy honey harvested decades ago and still eat it.
Since honey doesn’t spoil, you don’t have to put it in the refrigerator, which helps prevent food from going bad. In fact, beekeepers will even tell you that the refrigerator is one of the worst places to store raw honey because we call it crystallization.
You have to understand what honey is made of. Like most natural sweeteners, raw honey consists of pollen-based sugars. In this regard, low temperatures can easily crystallize the sugars contained in raw honey due to the high pollen content. When crystallization occurs, your raw honey becomes harder and harder to work with.
In this regard, to avoid crystallization, you’d better be careful not to refrigerate your honey. The secret here is knowing how to store honey properly so you don’t even think about putting it in the fridge. But what are the ideal conditions for storing honey?
Well, the ideal conditions for storing raw honey are actually quite simple. As long as you keep your honey in a cool but not too cold place, away from direct heat and moisture, it should be enough to keep your honey going for a long time. Because of this, honey stored in Egyptian tombs is preserved for a long time, as it is ideal for these honey jars to be locked in a place that has not been exposed to sunlight, heat and zero moisture for thousands of years.
The reason you shouldn’t expose honey to heat is that it allows bacteria to hatch and grow, as certain microorganisms tend to spread and multiply quickly when exposed to heat. That’s why it’s best to keep honey out of direct sunlight. If you happen to live in a fairly warm area, find the coolest place to store your honey, eg. storage room.
Of course, moisture can also be honey’s enemy, as it allows mold and other microbes to grow on honey.
This is why it is ideal to store honey in a safe and dry place so that it will last for a long time.
Does Raw Honey Need To Be Refrigerated After Opening?
Now that you know that raw honey doesn’t need to be refrigerated for proper storage, you may be wondering if you need to refrigerate your honey jar immediately after opening it. Finally, many different products can be stored at room temperature as long as they are not opened. But after opening, air and other microorganisms have entered the container and can only grow and reproduce at room temperature. Because of this, some foods require refrigeration after opening to slow the growth of bacteria that can cause food to spoil.
But, as mentioned earlier, since honey won’t spoil or go bad as long as it’s kept under ideal conditions, you don’t even need to keep a jar of honey in the refrigerator after opening it. You can rest assured that bacteria and other microorganisms will not accumulate in honey even if you do not refrigerate it. As long as you do your part in storing honey under the right conditions, you’ll find that storing honey really isn’t difficult.
Also, as mentioned earlier, storing an open jar of honey in the refrigerator will only lead to crystallization, which occurs when the honey is exposed to low temperatures and the sugar in the honey hardens. Crystallized honey is difficult for you to use because it will eventually be in a hardened state and it will be difficult for anyone to do anything with it.
What Will Happen If My Honey Crystallizes?
We’ve already discussed how storing honey in the refrigerator can lead to crystallization. But what happens when your honey crystallizes by mistakenly storing it in the refrigerator? What if it has crystallized? Does this mean you can no longer use crystallized honey?
Nothing will happen to your honey when it crystallizes. In fact, crystallization may be completely normal because honey is often exposed to cold temperatures, even in the hive, and when the bees don’t keep the hive warm, some of the honey they store for winter will crystallize due to cold winter temperatures. This can also happen at home, even if you don’t store honey in the refrigerator, especially in extremely cold winters where even a heater struggles to keep it warm.
So when honey crystallizes, it just makes it harder for you to use because it has entered a hardened state that is difficult to get out of the jar. However, this does not mean that honey is no longer edible or viable, as you can still safely consume crystallized honey. It’s just that it will be very difficult for you to use it in this state.
But what can you do with crystallized honey? Can you think of another way to get it back into a more accessible golden liquid form? If so, what can be done to make the honey liquid again after it has crystallized?
Well, first of all, don’t panic if you put honey in the refrigerator by mistake and it has crystallized, all you have to do is put the honey in a properly warm and direct place to bask in the sun. Wait until the crystallized honey becomes liquid again. However, if you need to use the honey right away, this may take some time.
So if you don’t have natural light in your home, especially during harsh winters or you live in a cooler area, or you’re just looking for a quick way to re-liquefy honey, there’s an easy way for you to do so.
All you have to do is heat some water in the grill or kettle. Once the water boils, remove it from the heat, let the water settle, and place the honey jar in the water. From there, all you have to do is wait for your raw honey to return to its liquid form.
However, keep in mind that your goal is to keep raw honey. Putting it in hot water or outside in a place exposed to the sun will pasteurize it and kill any healthy nutrients in raw honey. In this case, you are actually boiling honey. That’s why you can’t leave crystallized honey in a heat source for long periods of time.
But the good news here is that honey can reach warm temperatures of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit without being cooked. Even if your honey is heated to temperatures close to 120 degrees, it is still considered raw in this regard. So if you decide to use the hot water method, make sure you have a kitchen thermometer to judge the temperature of the water. Once the water drops 120 degrees, you can safely throw the jar of crystallized honey into the water.
Microwaves should be out of the question here, as microwave temperatures can quickly get hot enough to cook or pasteurize crystallized raw honey. Because of this, the hot water method is a better way for you to liquefy crystallized honey, although it may take a while for your raw honey to return to its liquid state.
Can Honey Be Stored At Room Temperature?
At this point you may be wondering what the best temperature to store honey is. In this regard, room temperature is actually sufficient for storing honey, as such conditions are not too hot or too cold for honey storage.
But what exactly is room temperature? Well, it really depends, because there are so many definitions of room temperature. In some cases, the room temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, while others describe it as 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Regardless of room temperature, it is important to note that honey is best stored at room temperature that is neither too cold nor too hot. So even if you describe room temperature as 59 to 77 degrees F, any temperature that falls within that range is good enough for honey.
So make sure the room is neither too cold nor too hot. However, this may vary by season. If your heater doesn’t do a good job of keeping the room temperature above 59 degrees in the winter, your best bet is to find the warmest spot in your home and store your honey there. If it’s too hot in the summer and your air conditioner has trouble keeping the temperature below 80 degrees, make sure you find the coolest place to store your honey, as long as you don’t refrigerate it.
Also, since room temperature can vary, it’s important to use common sense and store honey in a place that’s neither too cold nor too hot. As long as you do this, you’ve stored your honey in the perfect place at the perfect temperature.
How Long Does Honey Keep At Room Temperature?
As mentioned, honey can be stored indefinitely if the storage conditions are right. In short, there is no time limit on how long you can store honey under the right conditions. When it comes to the right conditions, room temperature is just right.
So as long as you store your honey at room temperature and the temperature remains constant, you don’t have to worry about how long the honey will keep as it will never go bad at room temperature. Therefore, it is best not to store honey in the refrigerator as room temperature is already very good.
How Long Can Raw Honey Keep After Opening?
What if you have already opened raw honey? How long will this take? Well, opened raw honey is no different from unopened raw honey. Just like unopened raw honey, it can be stored indefinitely, even more than a lifetime, as long as it is stored in the right conditions.
So you don’t have to worry about whether you need to refrigerate your honey after opening it. Raw honey has an indefinite shelf life, and as long as you store it in the right conditions, it won’t go bad.
How To Store Raw Honey After Opening?
Finally, how to store raw honey after opening? Well, you will be happy to know that there is no difference in storage conditions for unopened and unopened raw honey. The key here is to make sure you store your opened raw honey at room temperature that is neither too cold nor too hot.
And make sure to keep the opened honey away from direct heat or sunlight, and away from humidity. So as long as your honey is protected from direct sunlight and drafts, something akin to a pantry or even a kitchen counter should suffice.