Honey naturally hardens or crystallises over time due to "seeds": small particles of sugar, pollen, wax or crumbs that allow the honey crystals to form. Crystallisation does not indicate that the honey has gone bad. In fact, if you store honey in a relatively cool environment, opened honey remains edible for at least a decade, and unopened honey is edible indefinitely. Some people like the taste of hardened or crystallised honey because the water content evaporates and the sweetness becomes more concentrated. If you don't want to wait for honey to harden naturally, cook the honey to a toffee-like consistency, and make lozenges or honey spoons.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Double boiler
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- Candy thermometer
- Baking tray
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Plastic spoons
- Storage container
- Candy mould
Fill the bottom pan of a double boiler with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil.
Fill the second pan with the honey, sugar, vinegar and water. Place this pan into the boiling water. The sugar acts as seeds, allowing the honey to crystallise once the solution cools.
Bring the contents of the second pan to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir constantly to avoid sticking.
Perform a hard-crack test once the solution reaches approximately 149 degrees Celsius or once it stops bubbling and becomes difficult to stir. Fill a glass with cool water. Spoon a dollop of the thickened honey into the water to cool. When you remove it after cooling, the honey should snap immediately. If it rolls into a ball or bends before breaking, continue heating the honey and repeat the test after 1 or 2 minutes.
Remove the honey pan from the double boiler. Divide the thickened honey into portions before it cools.
Cooking the Honey
Spray a baking tray with unflavored, non-stick cooking spray.
Dip a plastic spoon into the thickened honey solution after it has reached the hard-crack stage.
Place the spoon onto the prepared baking tray, and allow the honey to cool for 1 to 2 hours. As the honey cools, it will become hard and smooth to the touch.
Wrap each spoon individually with cellophane. Store in an airtight jar until you are ready to use them.
Spray candy moulds with unflavored, non-stick cooking spray.
Spoon the thickened honey solution into each mould.
Allow the honey to cool for 1 to 2 hours. To speed the process, place the mould in the refrigerator or freezer.
Dust a baking tray or other work surface with cornstarch.
Pop the honey lozenges out of the mould onto the cornstarch-covered work surface.
Roll the lozenges to coat them lightly in cornstarch. The cornstarch will prevent them from sticking to each other or the storage container.
Store the lozenges in an airtight container.
Drop lozenges into your cup before you pour in hot water for tea, or suck on them for a sweet treat.
Tips and warnings
- Heat the solution in a single pan on your hob burner if you do not have a double boiler. However, the direct heat may cause the honey to burn as the water evaporates, so stir constantly and remove from the heat immediately if the honey begins to stick.
- Experiment with the amount of sugar you add to the honey solution. Heating honey causes it to lose some of its flavour, so you may want more or less sugar.
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