Bees are quite the wondrous little creature. They’re not only one of the main pollinators (and perhaps the most famous one) that are pretty much responsible for the perpetuation of terrestrial life, they also make a super tasty and healthy byproduct – honey! While it’s a bit unfortunate, however, that these cute little insects can sometimes trigger allergic reactions, they are still incredibly important to the world’s ecosystems and provide a tasty treat to boot.
Honey is so great because unlike the sugar derived from sugar beet or sugar cane that has pretty much zero nutritional value, there is a relative wealth of nutrients found in honey. It’s also been touted as a folk remedy for allergies. Supposedly, if you eat enough locally produced honey the pollen in the honey will eventually make your body resistant to it. However, there isn’t any evidence to fully support that.
So what about storing it for the long term? Can you freeze honey? The short answer is yes, you can. But, it doesn’t freeze like other foods.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about storing honey and how to freeze it properly.
- 1 Does Honey Freeze Well?
- 2 What Happens When You Freeze Honey?
- 3 Does Freezing Honey Destroy the Nutrients?
- 4 How Long Will Honey Last in the Freezer?
- 5 Why Bother Freezing Honey?
- 6 How to Freeze Honey
- 7 How to Defrost Frozen Honey
Does Honey Freeze Well?
So in short, yes, you can “freeze” honey. It actually freezes quite well. Technically though, it’s unlikely that you’ll actually completely freeze honey – more on that in a bit. What I mean throughout this article by freeze is the storage of honey in the freezer to prolong its lifespan.
Freezing honey is one of the main ways to store it. Whilst honey already has a long lifespan if it’s kept in cool conditions, putting it in the freezer is a great way to keep it safe and for it to retain all of its nutrients as well as its texture and taste. It’s no wonder why beekeepers freeze any extra honey that they collect from their apiaries.
What Happens When You Freeze Honey?
This is a very interesting question because what happens when you freeze honey is likely not what you think.
As I briefly mentioned, honey doesn’t completely freeze in a standard freezer. This is because the freezing point of honey is very low. How low, you ask? A super chilly -44 degrees Fahrenheit is when honey begins properly freeze. That’s seriously cold. It’s very unlikely that your regular freezer will ever reach a temperature that low.
However, long before it reaches -44°F, honey will actually start to appear frozen. As you cool honey, it becomes increasingly sluggish.
First, it will begin to crystallize and become almost slushy-like, which is no problem. It still keeps all of its qualities.
The only drawback is that it may be harder to work with and much slower to pour. At -4 degrees Fahrenheit (likely the coldest your freezer will get) honey will appear to be frozen, but will still flow at a very slow rate.
Does Freezing Honey Destroy the Nutrients?
No! Freezing honey doesn’t destroy the nutrients. If it’s frozen properly you can prolong the honey’s lifespan with all of the nutrients intact. However, the keyword is properly! If it’s not stored properly, you can harm the honey.
What does destroy the nutrients is if you refreeze the honey after you have defrosted it.
So once you’ve defrosted it, it needs to be kept unfrozen from then on.
How Long Will Honey Last in the Freezer?
If you happen to have a lifetime’s worth of honey for some reason and you’re worried that it might go bad, don’t worry!
According to BeeKeeping ABC, properly frozen honey that’s free from any contaminants can stay good for hundreds of years. Even at room temperature honey is safe to eat pretty much indefinitely. It’s such a durable food because of its super-low water content and pH which gives it its famous anti-microbial properties.
But if you plan on keeping some safe for your great-great-grandchildren then I suppose freezing it would be your best bet…
Why Bother Freezing Honey?
The two main reasons that one should bother to freeze honey is that first, it can provide extra longevity to the honey’s lifespan – hundreds of years more in fact. The other reason is that it actually protects the nutritional and antimicrobial properties of honey. So, in short, it keeps it better longer.
A good rule of thumb is to practice the same methods that the professional, or at least very experienced, beekeepers do. In fact, they store leftover honey in dedicated freezers to keep it at top quality.
The good news though, is that you don’t need some crazy industrial-strength freezer to get the benefits of freezing your honey. As it doesn’t need to be totally frozen, keeping it at least -4 degrees Fahrenheit suffices.
How to Freeze Honey
Making sure to freeze honey correctly is extremely important. The reason it’s so important is because while honey is quite durable, it’s still susceptible to things like fluctuation in the temperature and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
So while it’s very easy to store honey, it’s of the utmost importance that you do it the right way. There are a few things to consider before you freeze honey. These are the temperature, container, moisture, and the likelihood of temperature fluctuations.
Let’s check out some of the best practices and the steps you should follow when freezing and storing honey.
Using the Proper Container
For the best results, use a glass container if possible.
While it’s possible to also use a plastic container, they can allow honey to absorb odors from other foods in the freezer.
However, a plastic container is better than using metal, which should definitely be avoided. Metal reacts with honey and can impart a metallic smell to the honey and if it’s stored in a metal container long enough, the honey will start to adopt a slightly metallic flavor as well. Both of which are extremely unpleasant in honey.
It’s important to note that if you are using a glass container you must keep a 1-inch space at the top of the jar or container to allow for possible expansion.
I have mentioned “freezing properly” a couple of times already. What I mean by that is that honey shouldn’t be exposed to temperature fluctuations. So, the freezer should be kept at a consistent temperature and not altered as long as the honey is in there.
It should also be kept away from the door of the freezer. This will lessen the likelihood of temperature fluctuations.
Of course, having a separate freezer entirely for honey that’s rarely opened is the ideal situation. However, this is most likely a pipe dream for almost everyone but the most dedicate honey fanatics!
You’ll likely need to have the freezer set to the lowest possible temperature for the honey to reach the semi-frozen state that allows its life to be prolonged.
Step-by-Step Guide to Freeze Honey
- After you put the honey in the jar or container that you will use, make sure it’s sealed completely. Moisture nor air shouldn’t be allowed to enter the container. This is because too much moisture in the container can cause fermentation to occur. Air leads to the oxidation of the volatile compounds that are found in honey.
- Check for spills of honey on the sides of the container and clean off any drips of honey you find. While this doesn’t have anything to do with the honey itself, it can make for a sticky mess and a general inconvenience. A clean cloth with warm water does the job quite well for this.
- Place your container inside a freezer-safe bag before putting it into the freezer. This is particularly important if you’re using a plastic container as it’ll prevent the honey from absorbing any residual freezer odors. It can also provide a bit of extra protection if the container leaks. Trust me, the last thing you want to have to deal with is honey spilled all over your freezer!
- Place the honey in the freezer in a good spot. Try to keep the container upright and probably near the back where it will experience the least amount of temperature fluctuations. Unless you have multiple jars of different honey types, you most likely won’t need to label outside of your own personal preference as honey will be good no matter how long it’s been in the freezer.
How to Defrost Frozen Honey
Defrosting honey is super easy and anybody can do it. You can simply put it in your pantry or on your countertop and allow it to defrost. To speed up the process you can place the jar or container in a bowl of warm water which can defrost honey much quicker.
However, whether you put it in a bowl or just set it on your counter, you need to be cognizant of the conditions.
Don’t put it someplace where the temperature and/or the humidity will fluctuate. If there’s a window nearby, make sure that the honey is not kept in the direct sunlight as I mentioned the sunlight can have a negative impact on the honey. But most of all, enjoy your honey!