One of the best things about summer is that you can stock up on local honey. And one of the best ways to store your local honey is by freezing it. But does freezing your honey actually work, can you freeze honey?
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about freezing your favourite sweet treat and how it affects its taste and texture.
Does honey freeze?
Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution produced by bees, which means its sugar content is higher than the water content. It also has a lower freezing point than other sugars due to honey’s high viscosity and low water activity, which means it doesn’t freeze easily.
Because of these characteristics, honey goes through three stages before eventually freezing into a solid block.
When stored below -20°C, honey will remain in an amorphous state until it reaches about -41°C. At this point, the crystallization process begins slowly but gives honey an ‘ice-like’ appearance this then accelerates once temperatures drop below -52°C causing the honey to freeze into a single solid lump.
How does temperature affect honey?
Honey is a supercooled liquid—that means it remains liquid below the freezing point of water even though it isn’t technically supposed to be a liquid at that temperature.
If you let your honey get too hot you’ll end up with a complete liquid in complete opposition to freezing. While this doesn’t make your honey completely inedible (and maybe still delicious), it won’t be as viscous as honey at room temperature.
What happens when honey freezes
Honey freezes at an approximate temperature of-41°C. Unless you live in an extremely cold climate where winter temperatures regularly drop below-41°C, you’re unlikely to see any stored honey freeze due to natural weather conditions.
A scenario where honey could freeze naturally would be an unheated basement or garage where their jars may sit for extended periods of time during winter months.
As with most substances, there are three phases that occur when freezing occurs: solidification, supercooling and crystallization, every stage can be returned to honey with a normal viscosity so it doesn’t need to cause concern.
Preparing honey for freezing
Before you start freezing your jars of honey there are a few simple steps to go through to ensure the process is a success.
- Clean the jar you intend t use. Wash it thoroughly and let it dry completely before starting this process.
- Fill the jar. Don’t fill it all the way up, but leave some room for expansion once the honey freezes.
- Seal the jar and label it with an expiration date so that you know when to throw out any uneaten frozen honey in case of spoilage or contamination issues (if applicable).
- Freeze your jar of delicious sweet goodness until ready to enjoy!
To defrost honey, it is best to leave it in its jar and place the sealed container in warm water. The water should not be so hot that it damages the container or honey inside, lukewarm is absolutely fine.
Avoid using a microwave for this process because microwaves can cause uneven heating of your food product, which may result in creating scalding hot spots that aren’t safe for consumption.
If you’re unsure whether or not your honey has gone bad after freezing it, there are several things to look out for – an unpleasant odour or appearance (such as clumps of crystallized sugar), mould growth on the surface of your jar/bottle/container, or cloudy liquid inside of the jar that does not appear to be honey.
When it comes to your health caution is always advised so if you’re unsure if your honey has gone bad it’s normally better not to take the risk.
Shelf life of frozen honey
Storing your jars of honey in the fridge is suitable for periods no longer than 12 months. While honey will likely stay edible for much longer than this, being in a frozen state for so long may start to affect the taste and quality of your honey.
Freezing honey is a great summer treat
Honey or more specifically frozen honey has had its time to shine recently. With a recent upsurge in awareness around bees and bee products, a new trend on TikTok (a video sharing app) has got participants turning honey into ice poles to consume.
While this might seem like the perfect alternative to a Mr Whippy it can lead to some rather unpleasant side effects. Participants reported nausea, stomach pain, cramps and even diarrhoea.
Whether this new trend is here to stay is yet to be seen but it’s safe to say you should avoid eating honey in its frozen form in large amounts.
Does freezing honey destroy nutrients?
No, storing your honey in a freezer for 12 months or less will not affect the nutritional benefits when consumed. The freezing process actually stops bacteria from growing and may add to the nutritional benefits when compared to honey stored using traditional methods ie larder, cupboard etc.
Does freezing honey prevent crystallization?
Crystallization is the natural process of honey crystallizing and will occur when honey drops below 10°C so the honey will undoubtedly crystalise during the freezing process. It’s not a sign of spoilage, and it doesn’t affect the shelf life of your honey.
Can you freeze honeycomb?
Yes, you can freeze honeycomb for up to 12 months just like honey. Wrap it up using cling film or plastic wrap and label it clearly with a use-by date so you know when to remove it from the freezer.