Reclaiming Crystallized Honey

Back when we lived in Michigan, a teen boy in our homeschool group was a beekeeper. I bought raw honey from him in pint canning jars, and I liked the fact that not only was I getting local honey, but I was also supporting a cottage industry.

It's been harder to find a source of local honey here in Oklahoma. The one man I found on the outskirts of town has since moved. When I find someone selling honey at a farmers market or a local festival, I buy several jars.

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Raw local honey is a wonderful medicine, used to treat everything from open wounds to sore throats. Some believe that eating raw, local honey will help relieve allergies. My father took a daily dose of honey and apple cider vinegar to relieve his arthritis pain.

Commercial honey - the kind you buy in the grocery store, maybe in that cute bear-shaped plastic bottle - is mostly honey-flavored corn syrup nowadays. According to research by Food Safety News, up to 75% of the honey purchased in the United States contains no trace of pollen. This honey has been ultra-filtered to remove all pollen, and honey without pollen isn't true honey. This processed honey lasts longer on the shelves without crystallizing.

The last couple of jars I've bought have crystallized rapidly in my cupboard. I finally found a beekeeper online and asked him about it, and found out that some types of pollen will cause crystallization more rapidly than other types, but also that plastic jars will allow air into the honey and cause it to form crystals. Sure enough, although the jar in my cupboard looked like a glass canning jar, when I tapped it with a fingernail, I realized it was plastic.

All is not lost though - when honey is gently warmed it will liquefy, and if transferred to a glass jar it will maintain its liquid state better than in a plastic jar.

Set the jar of crystallized honey in a pan of warm water and turn the burner on Low. (DO NOT use a plastic jar for this! If your crystallized honey is in a plastic jar, please spoon it into a glass jar and then warm it gently as directed.)

Don't allow the honey to boil. Raw honey is a living thing, just like raw milk. Pasteurized milk is not, and neither is cooked honey. Heating it to a high temperature will kill the very qualities that make raw honey so beneficial, so just warm it up enough to dissolve the crystals.

When the honey has turned to liquid, pour into a glass jar. It took about half an hour to re-liquefy my half-full quart jar of honey. It is now in a real glass jar on my shelf, ready to use.

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