Pure honey will become hard if left to sit long enough. This happens even faster when it gets cold. It is easy to decrystallize honey without cooking it.
My first experience
The first time I tried to decrystallize honey was when I was a teenager. Back then, we purchased our honey in a plastic container that looked like a bear.
Eventually, the honey in that plastic bear got hard. I asked my mom how to soften it, and she told me to heat it up. So the bear went in the microwave. On high.
Apparently, there was a weak spot on that bear, right above one of the eyes. As the trapped air inside of the bear heated up and the honey began to steam, that weak spot ballooned.
Within seconds, it looked like our little plastic bear had grown a tumor.
When my mom saw it, she couldn’t help but laugh. It was pretty funny. Then she showed me how to correctly decrystallize honey.
What I know now
I have since learned that honey will crystallize faster in a plastic container. Even if it didn’t do that, I would still keep my honey in a glass jar after that first experience.
If you have regular, pasteurized honey, you can simply heat up some water and then partially submerge your honey container until the honey softens.
On the other hand, if you have raw honey, you need to be a little more careful. One of the reasons to use raw honey is to have the beneficial bacteria that honey is made with. If that honey gets to be too hot, all of that beneficial bacteria is cooked off.
It will take a bit more time, but you can still easily decrystallize honey without cooking it. This process also works with pasteurized honey.
How to properly decrystallize honey
The best way that I have found to decrystallize honey is with a double boiler. If you have two pots that nest together, you can use those instead.
Fill the bottom pot with enough water that the water has room to boil without boiling dry. You can refill it if you need it.
Next, place the honey container in the dry double boiler (or smaller pot). Turn on the burner to medium low. You want the water to simmer without boiling too vigorously.
Finally, simmer until the honey is completely liquefied. The length of time will depend on the size of your container and how much of the honey is crystallized.
If you have a large jar that is fully hardened, you will probably have to check the lower pot at least once to make sure there is enough water.
One last note, do not give in to the temptation to turn up the heat. This is especially important for raw honey. You’re trying to avoid pasteurizing it, remember? Even in a double boiler, higher heat can cook the honey.
This method with a low simmer would have been great for that poor plastic bear years ago. The honey doesn’t get too hot, and a lower heat means less steam.
It’s just a better method to decrystallize honey all around. For raw honey, for plastic containers, or any other kind of honey.