Freezing Honey at Home (Can You?)
Honey is one of the most intriguing natural products we consume. It’s an excellent option for satiating your sugar craving because it’s one of the very few sources of sugar that’s healthy for you. If you find yourself with an ample supply of honey, you may want to know your storage options and if you can freeze some.
You can’t freeze pure honey in the real sense unless you have a high-powered industrial freezer reaching temperatures of -51°C (-59.8°F). At such temperatures, honey turns to a glass-like solid. Most home freezers will only cool your honey down to -4°C (24.8°F), giving it a semi-frozen appearance.
In this article, you’ll learn all the tips you need to know about freezing honey. Do you really need to freeze honey, and what are other ways to store honey? This article will answer these questions and more, so let’s keep going.
Can You Put Honey in the Freezer?
You can put honey in the freezer like all other foods. However, while other foods will freeze up quickly, honey will only stay in a semi-solid state in your typical freezer. When you take it out, it’ll feel very cold. However, a large portion will still move around, albeit very slowly.
Depending on the length of storage, a small fraction of the honey may start to crystallize.
Do You Need To Put Honey in the Freezer?
You don’t need to put honey in the freezer to preserve it. Fresh pure honey can last years on a kitchen shelf or pantry as long as it’s stored in the right container and kept away from direct sunlight.
However, honey stored in the pantry will gradually lose its golden color and go darker. If you have a large supply of honey, you can store some in the freezer to retain the natural color and keep it at near 100% natural composition.
What Is the Freezing Temperature for Honey?
The freezing temperature for honey is around -42°C(-43.6°F) and -51°C (-59.8°F). Honey will take a glassy, amorphous, and non-crystalline appearance at this temperature range.
As a viscous liquid, honey will appear thick and sluggish as the temperature falls.
In standard home freezers, the temperature rarely falls below -4°C (24.8°F). Professional beekeepers may have industrial freezers, reaching -20°C (-4°F) or -30°C (-22°F).
Still, these temperatures aren’t enough to completely freeze honey to its solid glass state.
However, if you can keep your honey at these home or industrial freezer temperatures consistently, it will stay fresh over the long term.
The Structural Changes in Honey Through Various Temperatures
As a viscous liquid, honey doesn’t contain much water. It’s simply a saturated sugar solution, so it won’t freeze as the temperature drops to the freezing point of water. However, the honey will become more viscous or thick with the continued decline in temperature.
Here’s what happens as the temperature of honey goes through different stages:
- Stage 1: >-20°C (>-4°F) or at-home freezer temperatures. Here, the honey stays in liquid form but continues to flow slowly. Water freezes solid at this temperature, but honey will remain viscous.
- Stage 2: -20°C (-4°F), -51°C (-59.8°F) or at lower-powered industrial freezer temperatures. The honey starts to take its glassy, transitional form between liquid and solid.
- Stage 3: <-51°C (<-59.8°F) or at powerful industrial freezer temperatures. The honey will take on a completely solid glass-like amorphous shape at this stage.
Here’s a YouTube video that shows an attempt to crush honey frozen at extremely low temperatures:
The Advantages of Freezing Honey
You can store honey for a very long time. However, freezing elongates its already lengthy lifespan by further inhibiting bacterial growth without negatively affecting its flavor or nutritional composition. Freezing also retains the original golden color.
Therefore, the ability to freeze honey is important for anyone who buys honey in large quantities or for beekeepers.
Freezing large amounts of honey and maintaining the temperatures can lead to a significant uptick in your energy bills, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the loss from having to throw out all or some of your honey when it starts to go bad.
If you’re a beekeeper who sells your honey, your customers expect to buy near 100% pure honey at all times, and freezing is a sure way to deliver on that front.
If you’re a consumer, freezing your honey is an excellent way to ensure you’ll always have some honey to use when you need it. You can also take advantage of deals to buy pure honey in bulk wherever you may find it.
Top Tips for Freezing Honey
To ensure your honey will maintain its quality after storage in a freezer, you need to ensure it’s stored properly in the first place.
Here are some of the top things you should keep in mind:
- Only use glass jars. Glass won’t alter the chemical composition of your honey like wood or plastic. Plastic containers are porous, which means they can allow air and odors from other food items to filter into your honey. If you have to use plastic containers, it’s best to put them in a Ziploc bag.
- Store in small jars. By storing your honey in smaller jars, you can speed up the freezing process and reduce the probability of thawing more honey than you need.
- Close the jar tightly before freezing. It’ll keep air from getting into the jar. Constant exposure to air causes oxidation, and over time, fermentation will follow.
- Don’t fill the jar too tightly. Honey will expand as it freezes. Filling up the jar too tightly increases the risk of the jar breaking.
- Avoid opening the freezer frequently. You should only open your freezer when you absolutely need to do so. As we mentioned above, it’s the best way to maintain a specific temperature level and avoid accidental defrosting.
Maintenance for Frozen Honey
Most freezers can keep your honey between -4 and -30°C (24.8 and -22°F), as we mentioned above. Maintaining the honey at these temperatures for prolonged periods requires concerted efforts.
Frozen, or semi-frozen, honey shouldn’t be exposed to extreme temperature swings.
The little moisture content in honey turns into tiny ice particles at freezing temperatures. Sharp temperature changes will cause the structure of the ice particles to also change. The continuous temperature fluctuation will slowly erode the quality of the frozen honey.
You need a dedicated freezer if you want to store large quantities of honey properly.
You should only open the freezer when absolutely necessary as it’s the only way to maintain the freezer temperature indefinitely. It’s also a good idea to avoid refreezing honey once thawed the first time. Each thawing cycle waters down the honey’s purity.
How Long Can You Keep Honey Frozen?
You can keep honey frozen for decades. Due to the low water content and pH level, which gives it strong antibacterial properties, it can stay for as long as you want without damage.
If unfrozen honey in pyramids can last for 3000 years and still come out edible, your frozen honey can stay edible almost indefinitely. However, you’ll need to maintain a stable temperature to keep the honey’s quality near 100%.
How To Defrost Your Frozen Honey
The best way to defrost frozen honey is to bring it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw at room temperature. Natural thawing retains the structural composition of the honey a lot better. You can also put the jar in a bowl of warm water, but the heat may adversely affect the quality of the honey.
Will Freezing Honey Destroy Nutrients?
Freezing honey won’t destroy the nutrients as it preserves the natural antimicrobial properties in the product, keeping it as near its 100% pure state as possible. However, handling frozen honey can cause deterioration in the quality of the nutrients.
Heating the frozen honey or exposing it to wild temperature swings will surely lower the quality of the honey and the nutrients. Remember, the ice particles formed from the little water in honey will dilute the concentration with every freezing and thawing cycle.
You can maintain the nutrients in your honey by only freezing in small sizes, as we recommended above.
With this approach, you can thaw small portions at a time instead of exposing your full honey stash to regular freezing and thawing cycles. You should also avoid exposing your honey to extreme heat. Start thawing your honey at least a day before you intend to use it to avoid being under pressure to liquefy the honey quickly.
Other Ways To Store Honey
You don’t have to store honey in the freezer. Many beekeeping enthusiasts and honey lovers frown at it for good reasons. It’s easy to mishandle frozen honey, and frankly, nobody can outlive fresh honey stored properly.
You can store your honey in a tightly-sealed glass container and leave it anywhere with consistent temperature and away from direct sunlight. Honey stored in this manner in your pantry or kitchen cabinet can last years without going bad.
The one downside to storing honey on your shelf is that it’ll take on a darker color, but it’ll still be perfectly edible.
Knowing the right way to store honey is important if you’d like to have fresh, high-quality honey every time. Freezing is an excellent way to keep excess honey for as long as you need.
However, your typical home freezer will only keep the honey temperature low enough to preserve the composition and you’re unlikely to see it frozen solid. Instead, you’ll get a highly viscous, slow-moving liquid. You’ll need a commercial freezer to get solid-frozen honey.
If you don’t intend to keep your honey for long periods, you can explore other ways of storage without freezing.