Explore how to store honey at home effectively. Do you need to refrigerate raw or fresh honey to prevent it from going bad? Below I explain the various ways to store honey and whether fresh or raw honey can go bad if it is stored poorly.
How to Store Raw Honey
One of the most significant advantages of raw honey is that it does not spoil easily. However, honey users should not compromise on the right storage procedures because it will lower its flavor, texture and general quality. Storing honey in jars at room temperature is the safest way.
Do not store your honey in extremely high temperatures because it will change its color and flavor. There is no need to use coolers or refrigerators to store honey. Temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit keeps honey fresh and help retain most of its nutritional value.
You can also use pantries or kitchen cupboards to store honey as long as they are not too close to heat sources. Honey should not be exposed to sunlight. If you choose to use glass jars to keep your honey to make sure they are tightly closed or sealed.
This is because honey has the potential of absorbing any moisture and any odors in the environment when exposed.
Improperly sealed honey jars are likely to expose honey to moist condition, therefore, enabling bacteria to grow. Such conditions will spoil the honey within a short time.
Do not store raw honey in non-food containers, whether metal or plastic because it can cause oxidation or contaminate the honey with harmful chemicals previously stored in those containers. This could cause serious health issues.
How to Store Raw Organic Honey
Raw, organic honey can be stored by crystallization. This is a natural and spontaneous method that keeps honey safely for an extended period. The flavor and quality of honey can be retained through this process.
Many raw organic honey users prefer it in this state because it can easily be applied on bread or other foods without dropping off in pieces.
The process of crystallization utilizes that fact that raw organic honey is primarily made of sugar; mainly fructose and glucose.
The content of both contents of honey sugars varies depending on the environment and other botanical factors. Glucose forms between 25 and 40% of the sugars while fructose forms between 33 and 42%.
The ratio of these two types of sugars in raw organic honey makes it easy for the crystallization process to take place. Due to its lower solubility, glucose crystallizes easily. It takes the shape of tiny crystals after separating from the water.
Fructose will remain in the water because it is very soluble and as the process continues and more crystallizes, the crystals spread all over the honey changing the solution to a saturated state making the honey thick and crystallized.
Different forms of raw organic honey crystallize differently; others will form two layers with the liquid on the top and the crystallized forms on the bottom.
Raw organic honey crystals vary in size — the more successful the crystallization processes, the finer the texture of honey.
This is because the glucose sugar will easily and quickly separate in dehydrating forms. After crystallization, the darker types of honey become brownish while glucose crystals become pure white.
The rate at which honey crystallizes mostly depends on the type of honey and substances contained. Raw organic honey can crystallize naturally, a few weeks after being harvested.
Some of the factors that determine the rate of raw organic honey crystallization include; the preservation temperature, handling methods after being harvested and the source of nectar used by bees to make it.
However, the ratio of glucose to fructose is the most crucial factor in determining the speed with which the process occurs. Some of the honey that has the right sugar ratio for crystallization include those made from mustard, rape, dandelion, cotton, and alfalfa.
The lower the water content, the higher the glucose, the higher the rate of crystallization. Uneven honey crystallization is caused by heightened water content in the raw organic honey.
The presence of catalysts in honey also determines the rate at which honey can crystallize. The storage temperature has a significant impact on the quality of honey stored. Raw organic honey with the water content of between 14 and 18 % crystallizes optimally.
However, the water content of between 17 and 18% has the best honey spreading ability during crystallization and storage.
How to Store Raw Unfiltered Honey
Liquefaction and softening is the best way to store raw unfiltered honey. Heating is forbidden because it is proven to impair or destroy important fresh unfiltered honey properties.
Liquefaction time is highly dependent on glucose concentration-the higher it is the longer the liquefaction time and the larger the crystals.
Temperatures are maintained at below 40 degrees to prevent over overheating and destruction of vital elements. Overheating also decreases its aroma.
Raw unfiltered honey is a very poor heat conductor and should, therefore, be stirred before being softened and liquefied.
This will also reduce granulation. Enzyme activity and the hydroxymethylfurfural accurately determines overheated honey. Honey is then heated at between 45 and 50 degrees for about two days.
There are several forms of heating raw unfiltered honey before storage. One of the safest and most effective ways is using a water bath. This method ensured optimal heat transfer.
About 30kg of raw unfiltered honey is heated at between 40-50 degrees for 45 hours. Many farmers or processors do not use this method because there are very few commercially available heating bath systems suitable for this procedure.
Heating by hair also helps in the liquefaction and softening of raw unfiltered honey thus making it ready for storage.
Heating by air requires a longer period to achieve the same result as heating by water tape but also depends on the quantity of raw unfiltered honey being prepared for storage.
Air circulation is used to prevent overheating of honey. Liquefaction is faster achieved in honey with a water concentration of at least17% but not more than 19%.
Small beekeepers also utilize electric plates to liquefy and soften raw, unfiltered honey before storage.
How to store Raw Honey after Opening
Raw honey should be simply left away from direct sunlight and in a cool location after opening. Raw honey with high pollen content crystallizes much faster when exposed to cold temperatures. You should ensure that the average humidity of about 65% or less.
Does Raw Honey need to be Refrigerated?
Should you refrigerate raw honey? Well, honey should not be refrigerated because it can take care of itself. It has a high sugar content that makes it impossible for bacteria or fungi to survive in it.
Whether it is raw, unfiltered or pure honey that has just been opened, there is no need to refrigerate honey.
How to Keep Raw Honey from Crystallizing
Raw honey is kept from crystallization by prolonging its liquefied state. This can be achieved in many ways. Pasteurization is one of the most effective ways of prolonging raw honey liquefaction.
Pasteurization also reduces the likelihood of fermentation that is partly responsible for crystallization. Flash pasteurization helps in keeping raw honey from crystallization by eating for 30 minutes at about 145 degrees.
Filtering raw honey under pressure also helps in preventing crystallization. Filtering removes some nuclei responsible for crystallization of honey such as air bubbles, pollen grains, and undisclosed glucose crystals.
Honey can be bottled at about 105 degrees Celsius or higher to reduce the possibility of crystallization.
Avoid storing honey in polythene containers because they lose moisture over time, therefore, making the honey crystallize. Storing raw honey in airtight containers also helps protect the honey from external moisture, which is likely to cause raw honey crystallization.
Uncontrolled crystallization of honey is undesirable because it makes it cloudy and therefore less appealing.