Want to keep honey good for decades? Here's how

Assortment of honey products. Photo: Shutterstock/Alex Desanshe

Pure honey can last for decades, centuries, or even millennia if stored correctly. Archaeologists have found edible honey in ancient Egyptian tombs. Honey has an exceptionally long shelf life and can remain good indefinitely if stored properly. Honey's low moisture content and acidic pH prevent the growth of most bacteria and moulds, which contributes to its long shelf life.

Here are some key points about the longevity and storage of honey:

Airtight container
Store honey in a tightly sealed container to prevent it from absorbing moisture from the air, which can lead to fermentation.

Cool temperature
Keep honey at room temperature or slightly cooler. Avoid storing it in the refrigerator, as cold temperatures can cause honey to crystallize more quickly.

Dark place
Store honey in a dark place, away from direct sunlight, to prevent it from deteriorating due to exposure to light and heat.

Avoid contamination
Use a clean, dry spoon or utensil when scooping honey to avoid introducing moisture or contaminants that could spoil it.

Signs of spoiled honey
While honey generally doesn't spoil, improper storage can lead to fermentation, which is indicated by:

  • Sour or off smell - A sour smell suggests fermentation.
  • Bubbles or foam - Presence of bubbles or foam can indicate fermentation.
  • Liquid separation - A layer of liquid forming on the top might also indicate spoilage.

Addressing crystallization
Crystallization is a natural process and doesn't indicate spoilage. Crystallized honey is still safe to eat and retains its flavour and nutritional properties.

If you prefer liquid honey, gently warm the container in a bowl of warm water or microwave it on a low setting. Be careful not to overheat, as excessive heat can degrade the honey's quality.

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