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How to Make Sure Your Honey Doesn’t Go Bad

How to Make Sure Your Honey Doesn’t Go Bad

Last Updated on 17th December 2021 by

Honey is a staple in every kitchen. For enjoying the health benefits of this sweetener, it is essential to store it properly. Though honey has an incredibly long shelf life, lasting for decades, it all depends on how you keep it to preserve its nutrients and taste.

Honey is the oldest sweetener used for human consumption, and its recorded inclusion in the human diet dates back to 5600 BC.

Some storage conditions can make the honey vulnerable to physical and chemical changes. These changes may include the darkening or thickening of honey and changes in its taste. 

So, to retain its freshness and ensure that your honey doesn’t go bad, you need to take some steps. When properly stored, the shelf life of honey can go beyond its best use date. 

Reasons Honey Can Go Bad

As honey has high sugar and low water content, it can last for a long time but cannot remain fresh as it was when first sealed. With time, the taste will change, but there are other reasons to cause honey to go bad. 

1. Contamination

This contamination can be natural or human-made. When honey is produced, different types of microbes occur naturally.

Most of them are not a health concern, but sometimes contamination can also happen during human processing. The composition of honey is around 80% sugar and 20% water. 

It also contains other components like gluconic acid and pollen. Since honey has high sugar levels and low water levels, it offers the ideal ecosystem for bacterial and fungal growth.

The bacteria, fungi, and yeast present in honey may cause contamination of honey.

2. Adulteration 

Adulteration is another reason why honey can go bad. Production of honey is time-consuming and complex, and many businesses often resort to degrading it to increase its shelf life. Producers feed bees corn syrup, sugar, and other artificial substances to adulterate honey.

 Indirect adulteration methods are hard to detect. The thumb test is the most widely used method to test the purity of honey. To check if the honey is pure, you could add a few drops of honey to your thumb and see if it spreads around.

Pure honey is not runny and stays in the spot where you applied it.

The water test is another famous test used to assess the purity of honey. Pure, unadulterated honey is highly dense will not dilute quickly with water.

The honey will settle at the bottom of the vessel when added to water. If the honey has been adulterated, it may dissolve into the water quickly.

3. Improper Storage

When honey is left open or kept in an unsealed container, it can lead to the honey’s degradation. Exposure to sunlight will also cause the honey’s water content to increase, making it easier for certain organisms to thrive. 

Honey tends to crystallise over time, so if your honey has crystallised, do not worry as it is still suitable to consume. Crystallisation is also a sign that it is not pasteurised. 

The way you store, the temperature, humidity and the kind of container are factors that often cause honey to crystallise. Although it is challenging to avoid crystallisation, you can still prevent it by storing it at room temperature.

However, if the crystallised honey is left for a long time, it could increase moisture, spoiling it due to fermentation. 

Store your honey the right way

It is essential to keep your honey in the right environment. The storage solution is easy and effortless, which will ensure your honey doesn’t go bad. 

1. Use an Airtight Container

Avoid storing honey in metal or plastic containers that can oxidise it, changing its flavour. It is best to keep the honey in the original container it came in. You can also use a glass jar or food-safe plastic container.

2. Best Temperature

The best temperature to store honey is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the best place to keep your honey is in your pantry. Temperatures do not affect the quality but can have an impact on when the honey crystallises. 

3. Avoid Heat

Exposing honey to heat is one of the most detrimental things to do. Ensure you keep it away from sunlight and store it away from heat-producing appliances in the kitchen. Please keep it in a cool location away from direct sunlight.

4. Avoid Moisture

Seal honey in an air-tight container which will prevent moisture exposure. Even a tiny amount of moisture can promote fermentation, lowering the quality of honey.

Moisture can also facilitate mould growth in honey. Ensure you store the honey in a dry container that does not contain any moisture content.

5. Avoid Contamination

While taking out honey, it is essential to use clean, dry utensils to avoid contamination. Dirty utensils can allow the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and mould.

Microbes present in utensils like spoons and ladles could be transferred to the honey. While bacteria, fungi, and other microbes don’t reproduce rapidly in honey, some multiplication is possible, contaminating the honey.

6. Refrigeration

Honey can also be refrigerated though it is not necessary. The cold temperature will cause it to solidify and make it difficult to use when needed. The cold will also discourage the growth of microbes and mould that can contaminate the honey. 

7. Warm the honey if it Crystallises

Crystallised honey is not nasty, and you can return it to liquid form by gently warming and stirring it. However, do not overheat, as it can degrade the colour of the honey and its flavour.

One of the best ways to revive its crystallised form is to use as much of it as you need at one time to convert it into a liquid state. 

In case your honey is foamy, tastes different, or has a lot of water, it is best to dispose of it. 

Honey doesn’t go bad or expire. Only when it is stored incorrectly might it go bad.

So, enhance the flavour of your sweet dishes even after the best before the date of your honey by taking the above steps that will help make it last for a long time. Honey is a healthy alternative to sugar and other sweeteners.

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I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food!  You can find my Facebook here