Pure honey has some unique properties that affect whether or not it can freeze. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the factors that determine if pure honey will freeze and under what conditions.
Pure honey can freeze, but it requires very cold temperatures. Pure honey will not freeze at typical home freezer temperatures, which are around 0°F (-18°C). For pure honey to freeze, temperatures need to drop close to -76°F (-60°C). Even at such cold temperatures, pure honey freezes slowly due to its high sugar content and low water content.
What gives honey its freezing resistance?
Two key factors allow pure honey to resist freezing at relatively low temperatures:
- High sugar content – Honey is about 82% sugars by weight, with the main sugars being fructose and glucose. The high sugar concentration creates a strong osmotic effect, drawing water out of microbial and fungal cells, preventing spoilage. This also depresses the freezing point.
- Low water content – Pure honey contains only around 17-18% water by weight. With so little water available, there is little free water that can form rigid ice crystals that damage food structures during freezing.
The combined effect is that honey has a freezing point between -76°F and -92°F (-60°C and -69°C). This is far below the freezing point of pure water at 32°F (0°C).
How cold does it need to get to freeze honey?
For honey to freeze, the ambient temperature needs to drop below honey’s freezing point, to around -76°F (-60°C) or colder. This means that in most freezer compartments, even deep freezers for long-term storage running at 0°F (-18°C), the temperature is not low enough for pure honey to freeze solid.
However, in laboratory settings with specialty equipment like liquid nitrogen freezers, honey can be frozen by lowering the temperature close to -238°F (-150°C). At these ultra-low temperatures approaching absolute zero, nearly all liquids and solutions will eventually freeze given sufficient time.
Does honey freeze in the freezer?
In a typical household or commercial freezer running at around 0°F (-18°C), pure honey will not completely freeze. At this temperature, pure honey becomes thicker and more syrupy, but retains its liquid state. It may crystallize partially, but will not harden into a solid frozen block.
You need a freezer capable of reaching at least -76°F (-60°C) for honey to freeze fully. Most common freezer units simply cannot reach temperatures this low:
- Refrigerator freezer compartment: Around 0°F (-18°C). Not cold enough to freeze honey.
- Chest freezers: Typically range from -10°F to 0°F (-23°C to -18°C). Will not freeze honey.
- Deep freezer: Reach around -4°F to -31°F (-20°C to -35°C). May partially crystallize honey but not completely freeze it.
Only specialty laboratory freezers can reach the -76°F (-60°C) threshold required to freeze pure honey solid.
Does frozen honey go bad?
Properly frozen and stored, honey does not go bad. In its frozen state, the honey is stable and its quality remains high. Honey’s freezing point is far below the temperature range that allows microbial growth.
However, honey’s texture and appearance may change after freezing. Thawing frozen honey can cause crystallization as water separates from sugars. The honey may appear grainy or sugary. But this does not indicate spoilage – the honey is still safe to eat.
To return crystallized frozen honey to its original liquid state:
- Place the container in warm water and gently heat.
- Avoid boiling or microwaving frozen honey as this can destroy beneficial compounds and result in overheating.
- Decrystallized honey can be stored as normal in a cool location out of direct sunlight.
Properly stored frozen honey does not spoil. But freezing can impact its texture and potentially its flavor, aroma, and color if heated excessively when thawing.
Can you freeze creamed honey?
Creamed honey, also called spun honey or whipped honey, has a smooth spreadable consistency created by introducing crystallization in a controlled manner. This contrasts with raw unprocessed honey which remains a viscous liquid.
Creamed honey can also be frozen, though its texture may be altered:
- The tiny uniform honey crystals will coalesce into larger crystals, changing the mouthfeel.
- The smooth, creamy texture will be lost.
- When thawed, the creamed honey may “weep”, with liquid separating from the crystals.
Freezing creamed honey can lead to a coarser, grainier texture. If you wish to retain the fine smooth texture of creamed honey, freezing is not recommended. Store creamed honey in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months.
Does crystallization mean frozen honey has spoiled?
No, crystallization does not indicate honey has spoiled, even if frozen and thawed. All honey will eventually crystallize naturally as glucose sugars come out of solution in the form of crystals.
Crystallization occurs more rapidly when honey is frozen, but does not imply the honey has gone bad. Crystallized honey is still edible and has the same sugar content.
Signs that frozen honey has spoiled:
- Fermentation – Bubbles or foaming indicating yeast activity
- Mold growth – Usually appears as fuzzy patches or cottony webbing strands
- Off odors – Rotten, musty, or sour smell indicates spoilage
Crystallization alone does not signify honey has spoiled. The honey can be liquefied by gentle warming.
Is it necessary to freeze honey for storage?
Freezing is not required to safely store honey long-term. In fact, honey may be the only food that truly lasts forever if stored properly.
thanks to honey’s antibacterial potency and very low moisture content, it can remain stable and edible indefinitely without freezing:
- Store honey at room temperature or slightly warmer. Temperatures below 50°F (10°C) can cause premature crystallization.
- Keep honey in an airtight container to prevent absorption of moisture from the air.
- Avoid direct sunlight which can degrade honey over time.
Archaeologists have recovered thousands-year-old honey from Egyptian tombs that remains unspoiled and perfectly preserved. When stored appropriately, there is no real shelf life limit for pure honey. It can last for centuries or millennia without freezing.
When can freezing honey be useful?
Freezing is not required for preservation, but may be useful:
- Temporarily extending shelf life for occasional use – For instance, freezing a large supply purchased at harvest time.
- Retaining ideal texture – Freezing can delay crystallization.
- Organizing supplies – Easier to thaw small amounts as needed than storing many open containers.
While honey keeps indefinitely at room temperature when properly sealed, some beekeepers and honey enthusiasts may find utility in freezing portions for later use.
Can frozen honey be used for baking?
Yes, frozen honey works fine for baking. Thaw the frozen honey first, then use it as you would regular liquid honey. The sweetening power remains unchanged.
Baked goods made with previously frozen honey include:
- Honey cakes
- Honey bread
- Honey roasted nuts
- Honey cookies
- Honey muffins
Thoroughly thaw frozen honey in a bowl of warm water or at room temperature overnight. Gently heating can help liquefy any crystals. Avoid boiling or microwaving honey which can diminish its natural enzymes and flavors.
Once thawed, use the honey in recipes as you would normal honey. The functionality will be the same.
Can crystallized honey be turned back into liquid?
Yes, crystallized or partially frozen honey can be returned to the liquid state by gently warming it.
Methods to decrystallize honey:
- Low heat – Place the honey container in warm water until crystals dissolve. Avoid boiling.
- Microwave – Heat honey in short 10-15 second bursts, stirring between each. Take care not to overheat.
- Drink warmer – Place the jar in an electric drink warmer overnight.
- Oven warmer – Turn oven to lowest setting (100-150°F), place honey inside for 1-2 hours.
- Warm slowly and gently to preserve flavor and nutrients.
- Avoid heating above 105°F (40°C) as this can damage honey.
- Honey may temporarily darken and thicken but will liquefy when cool.
- Decrystallized honey can be stored as usual.
Gentle warming returns crystallized honey to its original liquid state, ideal for consumption and cooking.
Does frozen honey need to be thawed before eating?
Frozen honey becomes too hard to pour or squeeze from its container. It usually requires thawing for proper eating and handling.
There are a few ways to thaw frozen honey for consumption:
- Leave at room temperature for 2-6 hours until softened.
- Place sealed honey jar in warm water for 15-30 minutes.
- Use a food warmer, heating pad or other low heat source for 1-2 hours.
- Microwave in 10 second bursts, stirring between each to distribute heat.
The goal is to gently warm frozen honey just enough to liquefy it. Avoid boiling temperatures. This preserves the honey’s natural vitamin and enzymatic content.
For fastest results, submerge the honey container in a bowl of warm tap water. Thawed honey can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Can you eat frozen honey?
It’s possible but challenging to eat pure honey while still in a frozen state. At temperatures below its freezing point, honey becomes extremely viscous and tooth-breakingly hard. It also becomes impossible to pour from its container.
To eat frozen honey:
- Cut or break off a piece of frozen honey.
- Let the piece thaw slightly in your mouth so you can slowly dissolve it.
- Take care not to damage teeth trying to bite into rock-hard frozen honey.
For safety and enjoyment, it is advisable to thaw frozen honey before eating. Attempting to eat honey while frozen can be difficult, messy, and risky to dental health. Gentle warming returns honey to its smooth liquid form ideal for drizzling, pouring, or eating as-is.
Does freezing affect honey’s properties?
Freezing can impact honey’s texture but has minimal effect on its nutritional profile or antimicrobial potency.
Freezing may cause honey to crystallize or turn grainy when thawed. This alters the mouthfeel but does not indicate spoilage.
Key qualities maintained after freezing:
- Sugar content – Remains around 82% sugars by weight.
- Calorie level – Calories are unchanged at about 64 calories per tablespoon.
- Vitamin & mineral content – Levels of trace vitamins like B6 and minerals like manganese are preserved.
- Antioxidant activity – Freezing does not degrade antioxidant polyphenols that give honey its health benefits.
- Antibacterial properties – Frozen storage does not affect honey’s natural preservative effects against many bacteria.
While freezing and thawing may impact texture, honey’s nutritional profile remains very stable whether frozen or at room temperature. The key is avoiding excessive heat when thawing.
Pure honey is unusual in its resistance to freezing, thanks to its low water content and concentrated sugar solution. This allows it to remain liquid at temperatures down to around -76°F (-60°C). While specialized ultra-low freezers can freeze honey solid, typical home or commercial freezers only cool to 0°F (-18°C) and will not completely freeze honey.
Freezing is not required for honey preservation. When properly stored in an airtight container at room temperature, pure honey stays unspoiled indefinitely. However freezing can help maintain texture, delay crystallization, or store a large stockpile purchased during harvest season. Frozen honey retains its nutritional value and can be thawed gently for use in cooking, baking, and eating.