Honey is a very versatile ingredient that you can use in pretty much anything you can think of. It can serve as a natural sweetener, as a spread with a lovely, decadent sweetness, or in sweet or savory dishes.
The individual flavors depend on what flowers the bees collected the nectar from, and this also dictates the color and the texture of the honey. You can also get it in different consistencies, from solid to runny honey.
Honey is very nutritious, and local varieties can help combat hayfever to an extent. Honey doesn’t have a definite date where it starts to go off, but for best results, consume the contents of a jar within two years of buying it.
After this, the honey will still be safe to consume, provided that there’s been no cross contamination.
You will notice that the honey will crystallize over time, and this is a natural process which doesn’t affect the quality of the honey, but you will need to soften it before you use it.
But what if you’ve got far too many jars of honey to use? Can you freeze them and save them for later? Does it make sense to do so, when honey has such a long shelf life?
Is It Possible To Freeze Honey?
Honey can be frozen, as long as it’s stored correctly in the freezer. It’s worth noting that honey doesn’t technically freeze, not in the way other food products do, thanks to its low water content and high sugar content.
Honey only becomes nearly solid and glass-like at -59°F or -51°C, and at temperatures of about -4°F or -20°C, the honey is in an in-between state of solid and liquid.
That doesn’t mean you can’t store it in the freezer, though.
Is It A Good Idea To Freeze Honey?
As honey has antimicrobial properties, a low moisture content, and a lot of acidity, as long as there’s no contamination, all of these factors ensure that honey will keep pretty much indefinitely at a low temperature.
We’ve been using honey for both culinary and medicinal purposes for as long as we’ve been around as a species (see also Can You Freeze Rose Petals?), and evidence of humans using honey dates back to the Ancient Egyptians, as well as the Bronze Age, and this evidence is still edible.
Storing honey in the freezer does divide opinions, though. A fair few people would argue that there’s no need to freeze honey, as it keeps perfectly well in a dark, cool cupboard without any problems, as long as it’s in something airtight.
In fact, this is how the majority of manufacturers and beekeepers recommend you keep honey.
It is useful to know that when kept at unstable or warm temperatures, the consistency of honey is affected. If you store it somewhere humid without a lid, it will spoil.
So keeping honey cool is one of the easiest ways to ensure it doesn’t lose any of its quality. This may be as simple as keeping it in a cool cupboard or a pantry, or freezing it to keep it fresh.
Some people swear by freezing honey, especially if you have too much of it to use, or if you practice beekeeping where you’ll have a large surplus. For beekeepers, getting a freezer solely for honey is recommended, as you should only open it when necessary.
If you want to store honey for a long period of time, for longer than a year, you could keep it in the fridge or the freezer. Freezing honey is a perfectly viable option, but it’s not without its risks.
Most manufacturers warn against freezing honey as it can take on consistency or flavor changes, which it wasn’t designed for.
How Do You Freeze Honey?
Make sure to seal the honey in an airtight container, preferably in a rigid plastic container. Leave some room at the top for the honey to expand.
Wipe the outside of the container to catch any drips, as it can cause a mess. Put the container itself into a freezer bag for an extra layer of protection.
Label the freezer bag with the storage date, and then seal.
How To Defrost Frozen Honey
When you finally want to use the honey, remove it from the freezer, and the extra freezer bag. Let the frozen honey sit out on the counter, away from any heat and light sources. Sit it on a plate, and let it thaw at its own pace.
Don’t be tempted to try and melt the honey to thaw it faster, as this will destroy some antimicrobial properties, as well as its health benefits.
If you are in a hurry, you can put the container into a bowl of slightly warm water, and change the water frequently as it cools.
Once defrosted, don’t attempt to refreeze honey, as this can wipe out all of its nutrition.