Does Honey Expire?
Well, does it? No, not really. Particularly if you store it in a sealed bottle in a cool, dry place like your pantry — not your fridge. (Surely, somebody out there is refrigerating their honey. If that’s you: you can stop. Totally not necessary.) Honey may have an expiration date on the bottle, but like many other food products, that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. Expired honey is not something to worry about.
Honey can darken, lose a bit of aroma and flavor, and even turn hard as a rock, given enough time. But if you’re asking, “Did my honey spoil?” the answer is almost certainly, “No.” Honey contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide, just like what you might use to disinfect a wound. Even though you can’t taste it, there’s enough to prevent mold and bacteria from growing, keeping honey from going bad.
And yes: you can even use honey to treat wounds, too.
But can honey “go bad?” Again, not really. It may not taste as rich and nuanced a year after you buy it, but it will still taste sweet, and more importantly, like honey. Anecdotally, we’ve dug up the occasional lost bottle of Local Hive Honey around the office and found they taste just as good years after we bottled them. If there’s no mold, no funky smell, and no bacteria, your honey is safe. (Reminder: don’t feed honey to babies 1 year or younger.)
The main reason people think their honey has expired is because it’s turned rock hard. Rest assured: crystallization is natural. In fact, if your honey turns solid, that means it’s raw & unfiltered, just like the bees made it.
Many mass-produced honeys (looking at you, bear bottles) have been superheated to over 150º and filtered to make them look “pure” and clear – but that’s not natural. Leaving honey raw & unfiltered means it’s easier for sugar crystals to form inside and eventually crystallize the entire jar. But it also means the flavors, vitamins and enzymes the bees put inside are still intact.
If you’re just looking for what to do with your hardened honey, check out our blog: Why did my honey turn solid?
So, how do you store honey?
Keep it in the bottle it came in, with the lid closed and sealed. Don’t let any moisture into the bottle and try to keep it from getting hot and cold.
How long can you store honey?
Honey has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. You can store it a very long time. How long should you store honey? Let’s say less than 3 years. It might not be fossilized, but it will definitely be crystallized.