What makes honey crystallize and how can you de-crystallize it? Find out and then make this craveable whipped feta topped with honey and pistachios.
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Did you know that September is #NationalHoneyMonth? As such, I am taking the opportunity to make a #ScienceSundays post about honey crystallization and throwing in a recipe for whipped feta topped with a big ol’ blob of honey while I’m at it as well.
But first, the science…
How many of you when you go to grab the jar of honey in the pantry, will find it crystallized? Never fear, that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Honey, as I am sure you can guess by it’s sweet nature, is composed mostly of sugars (primarily fructose followed by glucose and sucrose ) and has a low (15-18%) water content. In science that’s what is called a supersaturated solution and such solutions tend to crystallize easily. This is because the low water content in honey is not sufficient to keep all of the sugar dissolved and in solution. Maple syrup is also considered a supersaturated solution .
Raw honey (such as the Winter Park Honey pictured above) crystallizes quicker than refined honey due to the sugars sticking to particles like pollen in the honey. Therefore, refined and pasteurized honey takes much longer to crystallize, but lacks some of the health benefits of raw honey. In addition, storing honey in the refrigerator greatly accelerates the crystallization process. 
During crystallization, honey does not “go bad”. In fact, some people enjoy using crystallized honey on cereal or fruit (charcuterie board anyone?). But if you are not in that camp, here are some tips for converting it from a solid back into a viscous liquid.
How to de-crystallize honey
The easiest method is to place the container in a window that will get the sun for several hours a day. But since this could take a few days (and chances are you want to use it sooner than that), if your honey is in a plastic container, fill a temperature safe bowl or pot with enough hot tap water to cover the container 3/4 of the way. When the water cools, replace with more hot tap water. In time, your honey will de-crystallize. 
I know that method still takes a bit of time but please do not microwave your honey! It might be a temporary fix but you will lose more water which means it will crystallize even faster next time.
As an aside (but it could be it’s own post), like olive oil there is a petition to the FDA to create a “standard of identity” for honey over concerns about adulterated and misbranded honey (such as those cut with corn syrup). The USDA attempted to help by creating a voluntary grading system but without any enforcement/regulation (again similar to olive oil) . So if you’re looking to identify what kind of honey you have in your pantry, I found this list of 4 ways to verify the purity of honey.
Whipped Feta with Honey
Now that your honey is de-crystallized and ready to go, let’s pour it over some creamy whipped feta! Just combine equal parts feta and cream cheese with a little olive oil to achieve the consistency you desire. Also a great time to use any fun flavored olive oils you may have – I used lemon.
Once well blended, transfer to a serving plate/shallow bowl, carve a well in the center, and pour raw honey into it. Top with some chopped roasted nuts (pistachio), fresh herbs (lemon thyme from my garden), and serve with your favorite cracker, bread, or pita.
One year ago: Buckeye Milkshake
Three years ago: Gluten-Free White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Vanilla Wedding Cake
Five years ago: Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookies
Six years ago: White Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshakes
Seven years ago: Bacon Wrapped Mac & Cheese Jalapeno Poppers
Nine years ago: Carrot Cake Batter Dip
Ten years ago: Strawberry Mojito
- 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 oz. block of feta cheese, drained
- 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil (I used lemon flavored)
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- Pistachios and thyme, or other favorite nuts/herbs
- Crackers, bread, or pita
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine cream cheese, feta, and olive oil. Pulse until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add more olive oil if needed to reach desired consistency.
- Transfer to a shallow bowl or plate for serving, creating a shallow well in the center. Pour honey into well. Top with chopped pistachios and herbs, and serve immediately with crackers, bread, or pita.
Source: Adapted from Books n’ Cooks.
Did you make this recipe? I want to see! Tag @THESPIFFYCOOKIE on Instagram and hashtag it #THESPIFFYCOOKIE
- The Conversation
- Winter Park Honey- The Chemistry of Honey
- Winter Park Honey – How to Soften Honey
Can the whipped feta be made in advance?
Yes, just store covered in the fridge and wait to top it until right before serving.
So happy you enjoyed the recipe! I could eat this with a spoon it’s so good!
If I had run out of crackers that would have happened
This post is most interesting. The article you referenced left me totally confused… The last time I tried to de-crystalize my honey by putting it into the microwave, I had to throw it out because the microwave melted the plastic bottle (there wasn’t much honey left in the bottle). A really good reason to use the methods you suggest.
I know honey is basically half of this recipe, but do you think it would still be good without it? I really dislike honey, but I’ve always wanted to try a whipped feta dip. If not, can you think of a good alternative? Thanks in advance!
You can for sure make it without it. But if you want some sweetness you can try a little bit of real maple syrup or agave.