If you've ever gotten a little zealous about buying that huge jar of honey at the last farmer's market of the season, I totally feel you. But it's no problem because honey doesn't go bad, right? Exactly. But what can be concerning to some is that honey can sometimes crystallize in the jar, and many people aren't sure how safe this crystallized honey is or what it means for the quality of the honey.
I'm sure by now most of us have heard the stories about how jars of honey from Egyptian pyramids are still perfectly edible, which has to do largely with the chemical composition of honey.
Sparing you all the chemistry lesson, honey is extremely acidic and way too sugary for most microorganisms to survive, and in order for a food to go "bad" there needs to be some sort of microorganism breaking it down. Because of this, honey is often used as a topical antiseptic to treat minor cuts or burns (or as a component in face masks).
So, if Egyptian pharaohs can keep jars of honey in their tombs for thousands of years, then why the heck should anyone be concerned about a jar of honey they've had in their cupboard for a few years?
For the most part, honey crystallizes for the same reason that syrups or other super sugary liquids do—the high sugar content can lead to solidification of the sugars over time (so rock candy, basically). But that doesn't do anything to the quality or safety of the honey/syrup.
In general, honey types that are higher in glucose tend to crystallize much more quickly, and the presence of pollen or wax particles (both of which are totally harmless) can speed up the rate at which certain honeys will crystallize. Because raw or local honey tends to contain more of these particles than their ultra-processed cousins, these honeys tend to crystallize faster, sometimes in a matter of weeks even though they're perfectly fine to eat (and probably will be for the next 2,000 years).
If crystallized honey isn't your jam, you can always reverse the process by gently heating the honey until it re-liquefies by placing the jar in a pot of water on the stove until the crystals disappear. Microwaving the honey can potentially destroy tons of the enzymes and good nutrient properties of the honey, so it's best to take the slow route with this one.So go ahead and savor the occasional crunch in your honey yogurt or the extra-spreadable creamy honey you got at the farmer's market. Or don't. It's totally your call, but honey in any form is almost guaranteed to be 100% safe.