There’s nothing sweeter than a drizzle of golden honey as a fruit or cheese topper, toasty drink sweetener, or folded into a recipe. But what happens when you reach for the honey, only to find it hardened into the container?
Fear not: It’s still safe to eat, and you can successfully revive hardened honey using a variety of different methods and containers. Here’s how to soften honey.
How To Soften Honey in Warm Water
If you have the time, you can soften honey in a plastic or glass vessel by placing the container into a bowl of hot—but not boiling—water. The water level should be at least halfway up to the level of the honey in the jar.
As the water cools, you will have to replace it with warm or hot water continually until the honey is fully softened. This method is easy and effective, but it requires some patience and time.
Alternatively, heat water inside a saucepan; then remove the saucepan from heat. Now, place the jar of honey inside a saucepan with the hot (but not boiling) water up to the level of the honey in the jar. Do not let any water get inside the honey container. Using this method, you can soften honey in about 15 minutes.
Similarly, you can use a sous vide machine with the same result: Set the temperature to 110°F, and place the container of honey (or just the portion size you need softened in a bag) inside the water bath.
Can You Soften Honey in the Microwave?
If you need your honey softened in a hurry, you can use the microwave method. But you should avoid microwaving plastic if possible. It’s better first to transfer honey into a glass or ceramic vessel first.
Microwave they hard honey for about 30 seconds. Now stir it, and microwave in additional 15-second increments as needed, until all the honey is liquified.
Ideally, you’ll reserve enough time to allow the honey to come down to room temperature before serving it or using it in a recipe.
Is Honey Still Good if It Gets Hard?
If you find your honey has hardened, darkened, and/or crystallized over time, you needn't be concerned about the safety of consuming it. In short, honey does not expire.
It is an inhospitable host for bacteria. As long as it stays free from added moisture, it can exist indefinitely without spoiling at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. You may, however, need to use the warm water or microwave method to soften the honey and return it to a liquid state before use.
Do not store honey in the refrigerator. Instead of slowing down the process of crystallization and hardening, this will only speed it up. (Same goes for storage in a very cold pantry or garage.)