There are few things more tragic than pulling out a jar of honey expecting a clear, golden liquid, only to realize that your beloved honey has transformed into a slushy, semi-solid mass of crystallized honey. But don't toss that bottle in the trash. It might look like it's spoiled because of the chunky texture and the cloudy color, but crystallized honey is safe to eat. It's actually totally normal for honey to crystallize; all honey crystallizes eventually, according to the experts at the National Honey Board. Honey is chemically a mix of sugar and water, explains Sheela Prakash for The Kitchn, so when honey crystallizes, that means the sugar is separating from the water.
The crystallization of honey happens naturally over time, and that separation between sugar and water is what creates those chunky bits. So really, there's not much you can do to prevent crystallization in the long-run. But there are some factors that'll have an impact on how quickly the process happens, starting with the type of honey you have on hand. Certain types of honey crystallize faster than others. According to Gwen Pearson in Wired, "Alfalfa and clover honeys crystallize quickly; maple, tupelo, and blackberry honeys crystallize slowly." Unfiltered honey will also crystalize quicker, because there are more particles to knock that balance between water and sugar out of whack.
How you store your honey can affect how quickly it crystallizes, as does the temperature. Honey starts to crystallize at 50°F, which is why you don't want to store honey in your fridge. You also want to keep it in an airtight container so the water doesn't evaporate, and the honey doesn't dry out.
If you do find yourself stuck with a jar of crystallized honey, don't panic. You can safely use crystallized honey in the same ways that you'd use liquid honey, though you might have to decrystallize it first—and that's really easy to do. All you need is to put the jar of honey in a warm water bath, which will cause the sugar crystals to melt and the honey to return to its liquid state. Just don't pop the honey in the microwave to try to speed up the melt. That'll actually exacerbate the crystallization process over time, and turning up the heat on honey can also affect its quality.
Sure, it might be a slight inconvenience to use crystallized honey over the fresh, liquid stuff, but it's actually a good sign. If your honey crystallizes, that means it's pure AF, with no additives like corn syrup. So embrace the crystals, and you may even end up enjoying the creamier texture of crystallized honey better than the fresh stuff.