What is the shelf life of honey?

In this brief article, we will provide you with the answer to the question: “What is the shelf life of honey?”. We will also discuss what affects the shelf life of honey, how to properly store honey, if honey can be frozen and how to fix it when it crystallizes. 

What is the shelf life of honey?

Honey has a long shelf life due to its composition – rich in sugar and low in water, which limits the multiplication of microbes – but it must be used within two years, since honey may absorb water, resulting in fermentation and oxidation, which affects the color, flavor, and removes some of its qualities (1,2).

In other words, we cannot say that honey never spoils, as this will depend on the conditions to which it was submitted. It is important to always leave it closed, in a dry environment. That does not mean that after two years you have to throw the honey away. But it is important to pay attention to the appearance and taste (1,2).

What affects the shelf life of honey?

The shelf life of honey can be affected by exposure to moisture. Moisture can introduce water content into the honey and create an environment conducive to fermentation (3,4). 

Heat is another detrimental factor that can accelerate enzymatic reactions, leading to changes in flavor, color, and aroma. Light exposure, especially ultraviolet (UV) light, can promote the breakdown of certain compounds in honey like glucose oxidase, affecting its quality (4,5). 

Additionally, contamination with foreign substances or improper storage conditions can introduce contaminants and microorganisms, leading to spoilage (4). 

It is crucial to protect honey from these factors by storing it in a cool, dry place, away from light and moisture, and ensuring proper sealing of the container to maintain its optimal shelf life.

How to properly store honey?

To properly store honey, keeping it below 5 °C is suited to simultaneously prevent crystallization, melting of crystallized honey and fermentation (6,7). 

For the preservation of liquid or crystallized honey, a compromise temperature of 20 °C is suggested. Therefore, the space should be at 20 °C and have a relative humidity of no more than 65% (6). 

Honey stored at temperatures above 25 °C tends to lose quality over time as a result of gradual chemical and enzymatic changes (6). 

You can store Honey in the pantry, but remember to store away from direct sunlight since it might destroy the substance. So, select a cool, dry place and let the honey and its original container; if it is broken or leaking, transfer it to another container. It is critical to store the honey in a dark spot. Do not, for example, leave the container on the windowsill (6). 

Next, cover and securely shut the containers. The goal is to reduce the quantity of air exposure that honey endures. So, before storing the jar, make sure it is firmly closed. Honey’s flavor may be influenced by other tastes in the surroundings, and it absorbs moisture when exposed to air. This causes the ingredient’s color and flavor to alter (7). 

Can you freeze honey?

Yes, you can freeze honey. Actually freezing helps to prevent honey from crystallizing and preserving for years. As we mentioned above, the optimum temperature to prevent crystallization is below 5 °C. Before storing, put the honey in a big container, since it can expand after freezing (6,7).

Another option is to freeze honey on an ice tray. So, when you need it, simply thaw one cube at a time. Another useful trick is to freeze the honey in an ice tray and then place all of the cubes in a plastic bag.

Place the honey in a freezer bag and place it in the freezer. After transferring the ingredient to the desired container, place it in the refrigerator. Honey may be stored in the freezer for years. Although frozen honey has a long shelf life, always keep a record of the date you froze it.

When you are ready to use it, defrost the honey. This is a very simple procedure. Simply store the honey in an airtight container and let it defrost at room temperature. Never try to hasten the process.

How do you fix crystallized honey?

To fix crystallized honey, boiling water can be used to return honey to a liquid condition (8). 

To begin, bring a pot of water to a boil. Then, submerge the honey pot in water. Keep the container securely closed at all times. Turn off the heat and set aside until the honey jar has cooled. It will soon be liquid again.

Keep honey away from the kitchen’s hot spots. Many individuals keep this item on hand in their kitchen. The trick is to keep it away from the heat, as this might damage the honey. Store the ingredient away from the stove, for example. 

Honey should not be kept in the refrigerator. Although the component may be frozen and thawed without issue, it should never be stored in the refrigerator (8). This will hasten the crystallization of the honey. If your kitchen is too hot, move the honey to a cooler location, but never put it in the refrigerator.

Does honey go bad?

In general, no. Honey has an extremely long shelf life and does not spoil in the conventional sense. Due to its low moisture content, acidity, and natural antimicrobial properties, honey is inhospitable to bacteria, mold, and other microorganisms that typically cause food to spoil (6,8).

While honey may crystallize or change in color and flavor with time, these changes do not signal deterioration or render it harmful to ingest. Honey may be enjoyed indefinitely if properly maintained, and historical evidence shows that honey stays edible even after thousands of years (8). 

It is essential to note, however, that keeping honey in ideal circumstances, away from moisture, heat, and light, helps retain its quality and prevents any degradation over time.


In this brief article, we provided you with the answer to the question: “What is the shelf life of honey?”. We also discussed what affects the shelf life of honey, how to properly store honey, if honey can be frozen and how to fix it when it crystallizes. 


1. How long can you store honey?. USDA, 2019.

2. Balkanska, R. Effect of the duration of shelf life on some quality parameters related to bee honey. Agricultural Science And Technology, 2012, 4, 464-467.

3. Correa-Mosquera, A.N., et al. Shelf-life prediction of pot-honey subjected to thermal treatments based on quality attributes at accelerated storage conditions. Food Control, 2022, 142.

4. Singh I, Singh S. Honey moisture reduction and its quality. J Food Sci Technol. 2018;55(10):3861-3871.

5. Abu-Jdayil, B., et al. Heat effect on rheology of light- and dark-colored honey. Journal of Food Engineering, 2002, 51, Pages 33-38.

6. Adhikari, S. Processing, Packaging and Storage of Honey. Foodwave Annual Bulletin, CCT, Tribhuwan University – 2010

7. Kędzierska-Matysek, M., et al. Effect of freezing and room temperatures storage for 18 months on quality of raw rapeseed honey (Brassica napus). J Food Sci Technol. 2016;53(8):3349-3355.

8. Krishnan, R., et al.Honey crystallization: Mechanism, evaluation and application. The Pharma Innovation Journal, 2021, 10(5): 222-231.

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