Does honey expire or go bad?

In this article, we answer the following question: Does honey expire or go bad? We discuss why it keeps so well and how to keep honey in good condition for a longer period.

Does honey expire or go bad?

Honey never expires, but it can go bad if kept in a humid environment. Pure honey has no shelf life. The oldest edible samples of honey were found in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs. After 2000 years, honey was still good to eat. 

According to the researchers, honey has no expiration date due to the link between three chemical components: acidic pH, sugar abundance, and hydrogen peroxide resulting from the degradation of glucose oxidase. These prevent the honey from spoiling.

However, for honey to last for thousands of years, it must be kept in a closed container. As a general rule, the preferred consumption date that we find in the honey jars that we buy in supermarkets or online stores specializing in natural honey is two years from the moment of manufacture. 

Since no food is immune to the passage of time, no matter how many natural or artificial preservatives they have. So it is normal that as the days go by, food deteriorates to a greater or lesser extent.

After these two years, the honey can continue to be consumed, as long as it has been kept in good condition. However, as more time passes, it is normal for this natural product to lose organoleptic properties (color, flavor, etc.).

Honey producers must ensure that the honey they sell has an HMF 

Hydroxymethylfurfural level of less than 40 mg for every kilogram of honey. This parameter refers to the compound that appears naturally in honey due to its levels of sugar, water, and acidity typical of honey. 

The amount of HMF in honey can vary depending on the temperature to which we expose it, and the storage conditions. That is why it is so important that once we have the honey at home, we try to keep it in the best possible conditions to ensure its good condition (even if we go beyond the preferred consumption date).

Why does honey keep so well?

As you can see, honey is one of the best-preserved products. In fact, it is said that when the tomb of Tutankhamun was opened, honey was found in perfect condition, despite the fact that more than 3,000 years had passed.

There are three factors for this to be the case: water, acidity, and antimicrobial substances that honey has.

Thanks to the low concentration of water in honey, microorganisms find it more difficult to alter its health. Although having a high concentration of sugars, honey can absorb humidity from the environment, negatively influencing its conservation.

Also, the low acidity that honey contains prevents harmful microorganisms from developing that can alter the conditions of the product.

And finally, thanks also to anti-microbial substances such as enzymes found in honey thanks to its natural manufacturing process, this food becomes practically immune to different microorganisms.

How to keep honey in good condition?

Yes. Honey expires. But as we have already mentioned, it can continue to be consumed without problem months after its expiration date, even years. To do this, it will be enough to keep the honey container well closed and not expose it to very high temperatures, nor very low temperatures. 

Nor is it necessary to put the honey in the fridge, it will be enough to store it in a dark cupboard or pantry away from heat sources. The ideal is a room temperature between 18 and 27 degrees Celsius.

Finally, to prevent the honey from expiring or going bad, it is advisable to buy less, but more often. In this way, in addition to not wasting this valuable product, we will always have fresh honey with all its benefits and well-active properties.

Other products that never expire

Rice – Rice, a staple food for almost half the world’s population, provides energy to the body, stimulates brain activity, and increases life expectancy.

Salt – When protected from moisture, salt is “immortal.” And why not, if it’s crushed stone?

Sugar – Like honey, when stored in an airtight container, white, brown, and powdered sugar never spoil.

Dried beans – When protected from pests, beans do not have a shelf life.

Instant coffee – Coffee is a real elixir of health, having very important effects on the heart and brain.

Strong drinks – You should not rush to finish a bottle of hard drink, because hard alcohol never expires. It is true that it can lose a little of its aroma, but its strength remains unchanged.

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Does honey expire or go bad? We discussed why it keeps so well and how to keep honey in good condition for a longer period.

We remind you that honey can continue to be consumed after the expiration date, as long as it has been kept in good condition. Also, as more time passes, it is normal for this natural product to lose organoleptic properties (color, flavor, etc.).

If you have any questions about the content, please let us know!

References

Albaridi N. A. (2019). Antibacterial Potency of Honey. International journal of microbiology, 2019, 2464507.

Mandal MD, Mandal S. Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011;1(2):154-160. 

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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