November 23

Lesson 29 – Storing Raw Honey

Long Term Honey Storage Challenges

Once you have gone to the effort of buying good quality honey, you want to store it in the best way.  This is especially relevant to those of you who want to keep your honey in a liquid (pour-able) state.  This is where we have to talk about honey storage temperatures.

In order to understand why honey storage temps matter, we must first have a better understanding of raw honey. Real honey is made by bees.  It is the perfect food for long term storage in a bee hive.

Then, we humans come along and sometimes try to improve it.  In addition to enjoying the good aspects of honey, we want to be able to mass produce it and store it on a shelf in a pristine state.  Consumers desire that perfect jar of golden honey.

How to store raw honey - not in the refrigerator.

Most people enjoy honey in a liquid state.

The practices used to create a beautiful product for the grocery shelf are not necessarily kind to our wonderful honey.  While honey will be safe to eat for a long time, it can darken in color and become more solid.  That’s doesn’t look pretty on the grocery shelf so honey packers use intense filtration.

Large commercial honey packers often push honey through a filter under pressure.  This is done to provide a beautiful product that will look good on the shelf for a long time.

This creates a problem because ultra filtration removes some of the micro-nutrients and pollen in honey.  Thereby, lessening the nutritional value of the product.

But, you don’t have to be a slave to modern processing.  Local beekeepers across the US produce “table honey” each year. Yes, it will cost a bit more – or should. With proper harvest and storage techniques, we can enjoy all the natural goodness of honey and not waste any.

What is Raw Honey?

Raw food products are in their original form as created in nature.  Nothing is added or harmed in the components of the produc

Honey can only be called “raw” if it has not been processed or super filtered and never heated. The honey should not be exposed to any heat (hotter than it would be inside the hive on a hot Summer day).

Using an extractor to remove honey from the comb is okay – it just slings the honey out.  Allowing honey to drip through a sieve or strainer is okay as no pressure is applied.  Learn more about using an extractor – here.

Raw honey is unique. The color and flavor will vary from year to year. Why?  Because each season the different flowers may or may not produce that same amount of nectar as in previous year.  Nectar production is closely tied to weather conditions.

In my bee yard, it is not unusual to have one bucket of honey that is very light in color and another very dark.  Read this post to learn more aboutraw honey.

Professional 2 Frame Manual Honey ExtractorProfessional 2 Frame Manual Honey ExtractorProfessional 2 Frame Manual Honey ExtractorThis is a manual Honey Extractor. Used properly, this type of equipment does no damage to the beekeeper’s honey harvest.  I have an electric version which does 6 medium frames and three deep frames at one time.

Liquid honey is slung out of the honeycombs and collected in the bo

The Best Way to Store Fresh Honey

Properly stored honey never spoils because bacteria doesn’t grow well in acidic honey. The best way to store raw honey is in a tightly sealed jar kept at warm room temperature.

Because honey can absorb moisture and odors – please don’t re-use an old pickle jar. Unless of course, if you are wanting to add a bit of pickle aroma to your raw honey, that’s your call.

1-Gallon Glass Jar Wide Mouth

For my own use using large-mouth glass jars, is one of my favorite methods of storing honey for long term use. The glass is easy to see through, and does not give the honey any strange tastes. If the honey thickens over time, the large opening makes it easy to scoop out.

These large containers will hold a lot of honey but are not too heavy to lift.  Smaller amounts can easily be transferred to  a serving container.

Bright light doesn’t harm your honey but it can cause honey to darken. (It’s dark in the hive – right ?)

How do you store raw honey in the dark? The easiest method is to place your jar of honey in a room temperature cabinet. An ideal temperature range of 70° F – 80° F is best.

( I break the rule and store a small jar of honey right on my stove top. – I am a rule breaker that way. ) Any “tight sealing” honey pot or container is okay.

Does Raw Honey Need to Be Refrigerated?

No, no, no.  Pure honey will not spoil.  It does not require cold temperatures or a vacuum sealed jar.

Please never put your honey in the refrigerator.  It will not make it last longer or keep it fresher.  Putting honey in the refrigerator can promote some changes that you do not want.

Raw Honey Crystallizes – It’s Natural!

Learn how to store raw honey to prevent crystallization if you do not want gritty honey.

Crystallized honey is not bad. It has just changed form. Some people prefer it this way. If you are not one of them, store your honey at a warmer temperature to discourage crystallization.

This is a common cry among consumers who do not understand the nature of raw honey. The turn often used is “my honey turned to sugar” meaning that the honey has thickened.  This is a natural process!

Honey is a super-saturated sugar.  When honey goes to this solid state, we call it crystallization.  The rate of crystallization depends on the nectar sources of the honey, storage temperature and other variables. But it does not mean that your honey is spoiled!

People ask  how to store raw honey to prevent crystallization. The answer is that sometimes you can not completely stop crystallization.

Raw honey contains pollen, tiny bits of wax etc that encourages the change to a solid. Because cool temperatures quicken the process, the refrigerator is the last place your honey jar should be kept. Honey that is stored in the refrigerator will crystallize faster.

But if you put your jar of honey in the frig, that’s okay it is still good.  Just maybe a bit gritty!  Crystallized honey is okay and safe to eat.  But most people want their honey to stay in the liquid non gritty form. If you want to change your gritty honey back to liquid – read a post on crystallized honey here.

How to Store Honey Even After Opening the Jar

The value of pure honey makes it important to learn how to store raw honey properly. And finding small farmers markets to purchase directly from the farmer increases your chances of getting real honey. Expect to pay more from smaller producers.

But no mater where you get your honey there is one thing to remember.  You do not have to store honey in the refrigerator after opening the jar.  Pure honey will last a long time.

Find a dark warm place to store your honey jar and it will be ready to add to your favorite dishes.