Does Honey Go Bad?

Does honey go bad or not? We all love some good honey, but it can go bad after a while if you don't store it properly. Here's a simple guide.

Honey is not only a good addition to sweet foods such as pancakes, yogurt, and fruit, but it can also be used in drinks and as something extra to give a special taste to savory foods like chicken, salads, and salmon.

Honey is an almost miraculous food because it can last indefinitely if stored properly, so it pays to learn the best practices to store it, to make sure that your honey will last for as long as possible.

Why does it last so long? Because of the glucose oxidase, a microbial enzyme produced by bees that helps to keep microbes away. Later on, when the honey has ripened, it will start producing hydrogen peroxide, which is safe for humans but kills bacteria.

What’s the bottom line?

Keep your honey away from direct sunlight, make sure to keep the lid closed tightly after opening it for the first time, and do not dip food directly into the honey to keep it fresh for as long as you need it.

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Signs Your Honey Has Gone Bad

Honey lasts for a long time but certain things can make it spoil or become less pleasant to eat, like leaving the honey in contact with air for a long time, especially if you keep it in direct sunlight.

Typically, honey is an inhospitable type of food for bacteria and yeast, due to its high content in sugar and low content in water. When the water content in honey increases, yeast can appear and it will cause the honey to ferment. If you keep your jar of honey properly closed and away from sunlight it’s easy to prevent fermentation.

Sometimes honey will crystallize, especially when exposed to colder temperatures. This doesn’t affect the quality of the honey at all, it just gives it a different texture. If your honey becomes way too crystallized, you can liquefy it again by putting the jar in warm water and stirring it. Do not place the jar in boiling water.

Though it is hard for honey to go bad, if it smells or tastes bad, you should discard it.

How To Store Honey

Honey can safely be kept at room temperature, inside a kitchen cabinet, or in the pantry. If left out, exposed to direct sunlight, the honey’s water content can increase, which creates an environment where yeast can develop and make the honey ferment. This, however, only occurs when a jar of honey has been opened and not closed properly.

The best place to keep your honey is in a kitchen cabinet, which will provide the perfect temperature. Pantries are usually fine as well, as long as they are not very cold. Cold temperatures make honey crystallize, which means that it will happen even faster if you keep it in the fridge.

If you need to liquefy your honey, it’s better to scoop the amount you need and put it in a container that can be dipped into warm water. If you liquefy the whole jar of honey too many times, the color of the honey may change and it may even develop a different taste.

How Long Does Honey Last

Honey is quite a remarkable food. It is one of the only foods in the world that can last almost forever, as long as it is stored properly.

So why does store-bought honey come with an expiration date written on the label? Every food has to be sold with a best by date to protect the seller. While some foods should be eaten before that date, honey can usually be safely consumed after that.

The date printed on the label is also there to tell you that, until that day arrives, your honey should remain fresh and keep all of its qualities.

Heavily processed honey, unlike pure honey, can start losing qualities over time.

The Verdict On Honey

Honey can last practically forever if kept away from direct sunlight and if it’s not exposed to too much air.

An increase in the honey’s water content may cause yeast to appear and ferment the honey, so make sure to close the lid tightly after each use.

Cold temperatures will make honey crystalize faster but it will still be fine for consumption.

If you’re wondering if honey is good for your health, you may find this article interesting.

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.