Food preservation

Does Honey Go Bad?

Essentially, when we say honey, we mean the natural substance that is sweet and produced by bees using the nectar that they get from flowers or even secretions from plants.

An interesting fact about honey is that because the composition of honey usually depends on factors such as the breed of bees and the different plants and flowers that they get nectar from, honey can greatly vary in its appearance and flavor.

You can say that honey is one of the oldest known sweeteners that there are in the world. And, if you have heard the rumor, then you can choose to think of honey as having some special, long-lasting properties.

It is key to note that crystallized honey is not necessarily spoiled. This is simply because, over time, it is normal for it to crystallize. 

The only difference is that the time it takes for honey to crystallize will vary depending on the variety of honey that you have and the manner in which you store it.

Telling whether your honey has gone bad should not be that hard to do. All you need to do is rely on your senses and carry out some tests. To begin with and most obviously, you can tell that your honey is not right by simply tasting it.

If the taste is not the normal natural sweet taste of honey, no need to keep guessing, just throw the whole container out and go buy another.

This should be the case if the honey has foamed up or smells like alcohol, do not attempt to salvage it, or to consume it, just take heart and throw it out.

Does honey go bad? It is highly unlikely but, in the case that the honey is not properly stored or it gets contaminated, it can go bad. The contamination can be in terms of air or water in the environment getting access to the honey.

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What is the shelf life of honey?


Keeping all factors constant, that is, properly storing the honey in the ideal environment and ensuring that the honey you buy is fresh and free from contamination, honey can last for an indefinite period of time.

Note that indefinite does not directly translate to forever.

At some point, it will start to lose its quality and once it gets there, it is of no good.

Can honey be frozen?


Technically, freezing is usually left for the purpose of preserving things or food items in our case.

Seeing as honey is an already long-lasting ingredient, freezing is not really necessary but totally possible.

You can put honey in your freezer without affecting the flavor or quality. The only thing that may change is the viscosity of the honey.

If you do not use an industrial freezer that can reach the optimum temperature for honey to freeze, it probably will not.


The process of “freezing” honey is quite simple.

  1. You first begin by transferring the honey into a freezer safe container. I would recommend a glass container since it will ease the process of thawing the honey later.
  2. Next is to properly seal the said container leaving about an inch of space to allow for room for expansion during the whole process.
  3. The next step is to further place the container in a freezer safe Ziplock bag that will play the role of containing any messes that may occur if the container somehow opens. It will also act as a barrier to prevent the honey from absorbing other smells in the freezer.
  4. Finally, is to simply stick the container in the bag into the freezer and maintain a temperature of -17 degrees Celsius.

In order to thaw the honey for use, simply place the glass container in a hot water bath and let it sit inside until it comes apart and softens.

Keep in mind that it is not advised to expose honey to sudden changes in temperature as this will compromise its structure. So, sticking it in the microwave to soften is probably not the best way to go.

How do you store honey for longer shelf life?


When it comes to honey, the process of storing honey should be similar to other liquids that are used as sweeteners. These include things like maple syrup, molasses, and agave nectar.

What this means is that ideally, you ought to place the honey in a tightly closed jar in a dark place.

Living the honey out at room temperature is perfectly okay to do. As such, living the honey on the kitchen counter is not such a big deal. It can also be placed in a cupboard or in the pantry.

In short, temperatures lower than room temperature don’t affect the quality of this sweetener but have an impact on when it’s going to crystallize.

What happens if you microwave honey?


We all know that controlling the temperature on microwaves can be a bit tricky to do.

That is probably the reason why most times we use them we end up burning our food or having to keep stopping the heating midcycle.

Quite often, the result of using microwaves is unevenly cooked or warmed food. Because of these reasons, microwaving honey is not a practice that is advocated for by many.

Essentially, when you heat up honey in the microwave, you destroy all the good things that are found in it such as enzymes, propolis, antioxidants, and pollen. The high levels of heat tend to lead to the denaturing of such compounds.


The honey will also only soften up for as long as it retains the heat of the microwave before crystallizing once again.

This will mean that you have to keep reheating the honey, something that we have already seen is not good for the honey.

Also, remember that exposing honey to extremely high temperatures will lead to its caramelizing. Once it has caramelized, sure it may be sweet but the product you will end up with will not be honey anymore.

Can bacteria grow in honey?


When it comes to this sweet delicacy, we have to keep in mind that honey is a hygroscopic matter since it consists of mostly sugar. This translates to the fact that it absorbs water from the environment.

Since honey contains about 18 percent of water, it is typically not that many kinds of yeast and bacteria that can survive in it.

The catch is that when the percentage of water in it increases, the environment becomes more conducive for bacteria to flourish. If they do develop, they produce alcohol which will then lead to the honey going bad by fermenting it.

How to test for the purity of honey


You have gone to the store or farmer’s market and have picked up a jar of honey that the salesperson swore is the purest honey you will ever come across.

Now you are back at home and want to find out whether their claims were actually true or unsubstantiated.

Having this information will also help you to know how to best store the honey and how fast to use it.


Some of the tests or things you can do to find out whether you got the best quality honey include:

  1. Adding a spoonful of the honey into a glass or cup of water. Ideally, pure honey is meant to remain stuck to the spoon or if it falls, to fall to the very bottom of the cup in one lump. If the honey has been mixed with say water, it will readily dissolve.
  2. You can dip an ear bud into the honey that you want to test. Take out a small scoop and try to light it on fire. If it flames up easily, the honey is most likely pure and free from adulteration. If the honey catches fire but burns with a sort of crackling sound kind of like firewood, it has probably been mixed with something else.
  3. The other test that you can carry out is to take a spoon and scoop out some honey from the container that you have and drop the honey on a kitchen towel. What you will be looking out for is the absorption. Pure honey should not be absorbed into the towel or paper

Can you eat crystallized honey & how can you fix crystallized honey?


Crystallized honey is still just as sweet and delicious as liquid honey.

However, if you do not care for the texture of crystallized honey, fixing it is as straightforward as following these four steps.

  1. Place the glass container that you stored it in into a bowl.
  2. Heat up or boil some water.
  3. Pour the heated water into the bowl that the container of honey is in.
  4. Leave the container sitting in the water and stir occasionally until it softens to your liking.

Ensure that you only warm or melt what you need at a time.

This is because the flavor and general structure of the honey will deteriorate with every repeated cycle of heating and cooling it.

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