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I have some runny, clear honey in a jar.

How can I turn it into soft-set honey?

I think honey sets over time, but how long does that take? Is there a way to speed it up? Should the jar's lid be on/off?

I've tried researching for answers but every single permutation and combination of search terms I try just gives me answers for the opposite problem.

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Something I think most people are unaware of:

Runny and set honey are made from different types of nectar.

For example, rape (which is grown a lot where I live) will result in very hard setting honey. We had to be careful to extract the honey as soon as the comb was full or it would set in the cells and is then impossible to extract.

This is often not known because most runny honey will crystallise when stored somewhere too cold.

Set honey (such as that made from rape nectar) will need to be constantly stirred whilst it sets to avoid the crystals forming too big and causing it to be solid - just like ice-cream!

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this will give you the result you desire, but theoretically it should work.

As I said, most running honey will set if stored somewhere cold, therefore I would suggest you use an ice- cream maker to set your running honey, or refrigerate it - but be aware that you will need to stir it often to avoid the aforementioned issues.

You will then need to keep that honey somewhere cold to avoid it melting again. It's pretty cold here in the UK so a cupboard is usually cold enough.

References: Beekeeper for 6 years and long time honey and bee enthusiast!

Also just to note that there is no set line for which flowers produce set and runny honey it's a sliding scale - most store bought honey is just a big mix from different flowers. I believe it's something to do with how saturated with sugar the necar was.

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    I gave you a +1 because I agree that traditionally, that's the difference between the two types of honey. But I'm also pretty sure that there are industrial methods for turning hard-setting honey into permanently runny, I believe they add enzymes for that. So it is not certain that the runny honey bought at a supermarket will indeed come from a runny-making plant. The end effect should be the same though, I doubt that the liquefication process can be easily reversed. – rumtscho Dec 5 '19 at 17:18
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    I'm sure they do, do that! However, I think you'll still be able to achieve the results by cooling the honey. Certainly in the UK, runny honey doesn't stay runny when it is stored too cool! – Bee Dec 5 '19 at 17:22
  • This sounds interesting - do you mean that the honey becomes permanently crystalized after being cooled once (so you can store it afterwards at room temperature and its stays solid), or is this trick restricted to eating cold honey? – rumtscho Dec 5 '19 at 17:26
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    @rumtscho I buy runny honey, but my kitchen routinely gets down to 12C overnight at this time of year. I have to warm it to well above (normal) room temp to get it runny again, and if I don't get rid of every last crystal it soon sets again – Chris H Dec 5 '19 at 17:30
  • @rumtscho I did clarify in my answer that you would then need to keep it stored in a cool place. It depends on your room temp! I have had honey crystallise at around 17C in my kitchen – Bee Dec 5 '19 at 17:33
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What you are describing is most likely creamed honey, which is also known by a variety of other local names including whipped honey (for those in the USA I think). This is honey that has been induced to produce micro-crystals by a couple of different methods. Basically these boil down to addition of seed crystals to the honey that then initiate a chain crystallization process.

From my reading around this, you need to be aware that crystallized honey has a tendency to ferment, so you generally need to Pasteurize the honey before initiating the creaming process so as to kill off any yeasts that might grow and ferment the honey. You can do this by rapidly heating to 150 F/66 C for 15 min (warning: PDF, see section on fermentation), then cooling rapidly.

For the creaming there are a couple of different methods - you will want the Dyce method (Patent link). In summary you need honey that has been Pasteurized, then heated to over 150 to dissolve crystals, then rapidly cooled to between 60 F/15 C and 75 F/24 C. You then add 10% already creamed honey (get it from a shop...) to your honey and stir. Let sit at 55 F/13 C for about a week and it should be done.

The PDF linked above and here has a nice summary and full explanations.

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  • How can I do it without already creamed honey? I actually only have runny honey because the nearby shops are out of stock on set honey – theonlygusti Dec 4 '19 at 22:32
  • Probably by adding very small crystals of any sort I guess - very finely ground sugar would work. They need to be tiny - less than 0.001"/ 0.025 mm. It also has to have the right amount of water, too much and it won't crystallize at all. You could do some density tests to determine this. Ideally < 15% water. The honey should crystallize naturally, but it will take time and most likely won't be small crystals, so you won't get the texture you are after. Beekeepers use machines to break up larger crystals by stirring and rubbing the honey between the drum the honey is in and a board – bob1 Dec 5 '19 at 1:53

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