Do you have pure honey sitting around in your pantry that has been there for years? Maybe it’s changed color or crystallized. If you’re considering throwing it away, think again. You don’t have to toss that honey! Even if honey had been sitting on your shelf for 2,000 years, that honey would still be as good as the day you opened it. In a nutshell, well-stored honey never expires or spoils, even if it’s been previously opened.
Why Honey Doesn’t Spoil
So why does honey never go bad? Honey is antibacterial, which means that you don’t have to worry about anything funky growing in your honey. Honey also has a pH of about 3.26-4.48, which helps to also stave off anything bacteria trying to make a home in your honey.
How to Properly Store Honey
Are than any exceptions to the rule that honey never goes bad? Are you wondering if raw honey can go bad? The only way your honey will expire is if your honey has been contaminated by moisture, so make sure to never get water into your honey pot. Granulation and crystallization can lead to increased moisture. The honey may, therefore, become more susceptible to spoilage by fermentation. But, room temperature (between 60 and 79 degrees) is usually a safe environment to avoid fermentation. This is the case for both raw and pasteurized honey. Neither will expire if stored properly.
You’ll definitely know when your honey has fermented—it will taste sour!
Honey May Change Color & Texture
While honey never spoils, it may change color (from clear to cloudy) or texture (thicker and grainier) over time. That’s ok! Unless your honey becomes exposed to moisture and ferments (which will be super obvious), it’s safe to consume. Since most of the water in honey interacts with sugars, there’s little “free” water for microbes to multiply in.
Is Crystallized Honey Safe to Eat?
Yes! Glucose granulates (aka crystallizes) more easily than fructose so the rate of granulation depends on the concentration of glucose and fructose in the plants the honey came from. Honey may naturally crystallize since it’s a mixture of glucose, fructose sugars, and water (about 18%). Over time, the glucose and water will eventually separate to create crystals. To prevent crystallization from happening earlier than it naturally would, make sure to keep honey at room temperature and try to store your honey in glass, because it is less porous than plastic. Avoid storing honey in the refrigerator because that actually speeds up the crystallization process.
Crystallization is actually a sign that your honey is raw and unpasteurized! The only reason honey is pasteurized or heated to a certain temperature is to slow the crystallization process, but that actually takes all the good nutrients and vitamins out of your honey. So make sure to get raw honey if you want all the benefits. Whether honey is raw or pasteurized, however, the result is the same: pure honey (unadulterated, no added sweeteners or added glucose) won’t spoil.
What is the Shelf-Life of Infused Honey?
At Asheville Bee Charmer, we like to get creative with infusions, from Chai Infused Honey to Honey with Ginger. We wrote a recent blog post all about the taste profiles of spicy honeys and how we create our selection of hot honeys.
Since moisture can cause honey to go bad, it is very important that any chilies, peppers, or herbs are completely dried because you place them in the jar of honey to infuse. As long as no water is introduced into the honey, it will never expire.
So break out all the honey hanging around in your cabinets from years ago, and enjoy!