Does Honey Expire Or Go Bad
Honey may go bad if it is contaminated or not stored properly. If your honey has molds or it smells like fermented, then you may throw it. If the bees collect nectar from certain toxic plants, then it may be spoiled. Honey is a natural resource and it may not be spoiled because of its antimicrobial properties.
As we learned above, honey is naturally very low-hydration, meaning that it will absorb whatever available moisture it can…and thus it will spoil. Because honey is naturally low-moisture, bacteria and germs literally cannot survive. With this kind of an inhospitable environment, the organisms cannot live for long enough inside a honey can jar for it to ever get the chance to spoil.
Also, an open jar or container allows the honey to be contaminated by germs from its surrounding environment. Properly sealed honey will almost never spoil or expire, but it may spoil if it is not sealed tight, or if water gets into the container. If you store your honey in an unsealed container, it is very possible that moisture will slowly rise, thus leading to fermentation.
As the moisture content in badly stored honey increases, these microbes are able to multiply and make the honey worse. In reality, honey contains only a very tiny amount of water, so no bacterium or yeast could grow in this environment. Honey actually absorbs water from the air and the jar, creating a much more hospitable environment for the bacteria to grow. If you leave your jar unopened, honey will soak up a bit of water from the air (it is a very slow, but steady process), and in some time, a few yeasts may be able to live and grow in there.
If your jars lid is not tight enough, the honey will pull in water from the air, leading to an increase in the humidity levels. If the lid is not screwed tight, or left open all the way, it could easily lead to a spike in honeys naturally low water content.
Honey is only worse if left to crystallize for long periods of time — that causes it to lose more water, causing fermentation. Because honey has such low water content, it does not get worse traditionally, meaning that the honey can be stored without the jars growing molds or harmful bacteria. If someone stores it quite properly (so that no contaminants can enter the jar), then it will not go bad. While honey may change its look or consistency, properly stored honey is never unsafe to eat.
Storing honey in a refrigerator causes it to quickly crystallize, which is unnecessary because it does not spoil. There is no health threat from having your honey crystallize, as this is a natural process that also happens if you keep your honey properly. Crystallization is a natural process of aging honey and is a good indication that it is clean and not pasteurized.
Crystallization does not mean the honey has gone bad, just that a portion of the sugar has separated from the water and turned to crystals. Even if stored properly, crystallizing honey is completely normal. Even when honey goes through a few natural changes, such as crystallization, that does not mean that it has gone bad or expired.
Crystallization happens more frequently with true honey, as it contains natural sugars and pollen, which are two things that you want in your honey. Crystallization is not a bad thing, but most of us have found that using honey is easier when it is liquid.
Raw honey is sugar, meaning that it is hygroscopic (containing very little water). Honey is a sugar, and sugars, we know, are hygroscopic, meaning that in their natural state, they contain very little water, but they can easily absorb water if left uncapped. This means the sugars are in interaction with water molecules, which means microorganisms cannot exploit them, and there is no chance for fermentation or breakdown in honey.
Honey may be stored in a refrigerator, but doing so can make the honey crystallize more quickly. If stored improperly, honey may lose some antimicrobial properties, get contaminated, or begin to break down. Honey does not spoil if stored correctly, but over time, it may lose some of its aromas and flavors. Whether raw or heated honey, if honey is stored in a container with a lid, and has not had any water added to it (either from hand-holding by humans, or from moisture in the air), it will not go bad.
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Honey can go bad if it is harvested too soon, before bees have had time to lower moisture levels below 18%. If the honey is harvested too early, it can be overly high in water and lead to green honey, which can ferment easily, has a foul flavor, or even contains a high amount of dead yeast. Normally, honey is stored by honeybees in the hive and drained, such that it can have 18% of water; if harvested earlier, water content can exceed 25%, which poses an increased risk for fermentation and bad flavor.
|Normally||Normally, honey is stored by honeybees in the hive and drained, such that it can have 18% of water|
|Earlier Harvesting||If harvested earlier, water content can exceed 25%, which poses an increased risk for fermentation and bad flavor.|
When you do not properly store honey, its flavor changes more quickly, and not necessarily in a good way. Honey stored long term can get darker and begin to lose it is aromas and flavors. Heating may also destroy some valuable enzymes and preservatives found naturally in honey.
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If too much water is drawn into honey, honeys rehydrating properties no longer prevent bacteria from growing. Because of honeys sugar content and low pH, and honeys bee-producing processes, organisms that would degrade the food do not survive in the honey.
With some particles, your honey may crystallize, but do not worry: If it is sealed, it is not spoiled, and it will not be for quite a while. There is nothing wrong with crystallized honey, but if you are bothered by the texture, you can place your jar into a cup of warm water, or just microwave it on low, so you get that supple texture back.
Most honey at the grocery store is both heat-treated and ultra-filtered to remove the pollen, which means that it crystallizes slower too. It is possible for the honey to spoil if a jar is improperly stored, or it is contaminated with another substance.
How do you know if honey is spoiled?
Honey never goes bad. It’s known as the one and only food that doesn’t go bad. But with time, it will crystallize (becoming thick and hazy). If this occurs, simply take the jar’s cover off, set it in a pan of water, and warm it over low heat until the honey regains its normal consistency.
What happens if you have expired honey?
Honey has no shelf life. The nutritious sweetener, which has a lot of antioxidants and antimicrobial proteins and enzymes, is always effective. Seriously. According to the National Honey Board, honey can be kept airtight for an endless period of time and is still edible even if it crystallizes or gets darker with time.
Should honey be refrigerated after opening?
Honey cannot spoil if bacteria cannot thrive there. It essentially has an endless shelf life because of this. The cooler temperature will encourage and hasten the crystallization of liquid honey, thus it should be kept in your cupboard at room temperature as though it were kept in the fridge.