Honey is a great source of simple sugars that can be used as a flavor additive, and it even has medicinal properties. You should always have some on hand.
You can keep honey in long-term storage by using a sealed container in a dark, dry, warm space. You can also freeze honey, but be sure to thaw it properly. When kept in this way, the shelf life of honey is nearly infinite.
We’ll look at the best ways to get you the longest shelf life for your honey, and how to avoid common honey storage pitfalls.
How to Store Honey Long-Term
While liquid honey can technically last forever due to its unique chemical composition, it can lose its quality over time. Subtle changes to its color, aroma, and flavor may make it less edible.
Following these simple guidelines for honey storage can help you store honey for the longest possible amount of time.
Use a Sealed Container
A properly sealed container is always the best bet when you want to store honey in a liquid state. The reason for using a container with a good seal is to keep out excess moisture. Honey naturally has very little moisture, and any that leaks in can bring in harmful bacteria or cause crystallization.
The Right Containers for Storing Honey
The best type of container in which to store raw honey is glass mason jars with tight-fitting lids. Glass will not react to the foods stored inside of it, and it will not degrade over time. Glass containers like mason jars are commonly available, and are useful for storing all kinds of foods besides honey.
Plastic containers that are not rated as food-safe are not a good idea. They can release chemicals over time that will affect the quality of your honey. Even food-safe plastic containers can break down over time, and are not as stable as glass containers.
Metal containers also have a tendency to oxidize, which will compromise whatever foods they store. Furthermore, honey is slightly acidic, which means it will progressively eat through metal over time.
Keep Honey in a Dark Place And at an Average Room Temperature
Honey is best stored at room temperature, which is usually between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 18 to 24 degrees Celsius.
High temperatures may cause your honey to become darker and lose some of its flavor, and cold temperatures will freeze your honey, which can lead to the crystallization process. Crystallized honey is not harmful, but is not always the most usable form.
Additionally, dark spaces are better for storing honey long-term. Direct sunlight or other harsh lighting conditions can also affect its color and flavor.
A closed kitchen cabinet, basement storage unit, or other dark area that does not experience strong swings in temperature are all ideal places for keeping honey over long periods of time.
Avoid Moisture at All Costs
One of the biggest reasons to follow proper food storage protocols is to avoid letting moisture into your honey.
This can lead to fermentation, which is the process by which bacteria break down food slowly over time. This is a key element to making alcoholic beverages, but can be harmful when you do not store honey properly.
Using the right container with a proper moisture seal is essential to keeping your honey fresh over time.
Do Not Refrigerate Honey
While refrigeration is a great option for keeping other foods fresh, it is not helpful to keep honey in the refrigerator. If it gets too cold, honey begins to turn into a solid mass or form crystals, which can affect its composition and quality once brought back up to a usable temperature.
We’ll look into freezing honey below as an alternative, but the “in between” step of refrigeration is more trouble than it’s worth where honey is concerned.
How to Freeze Honey
You can store honey in the freezer as a viable alternative to room-temperature storage. It preserves the honey well, and doesn’t allow crystals to form.
That being said, you must thaw your honey properly to avoid these imperfections later on.
How to Thaw Frozen Honey
When you thaw your honey, be careful not to expose it to overly hot temperatures too quickly. This can not only damage the quality of the honey itself, but if you used a glass jar it might shatter due to the extreme changes in temperature.
Instead, use warm water when it’s time to thaw your honey. Using warm water will bring it up to a usable temperature more gently.
Can You Dehydrate Honey?
If you have a dehydrator, you can also dehydrate your honey for longer term storage. This method removes all moisture completely and converts the honey into honey sugar.
You can store dried honey in this form under similar conditions (airtight storage containers at room temperature), but you should include a desiccant packet to prevent clumping during storage.
How Long Is Honey Good For?
Stored properly, honey is an amazing food with no actual expiration date. Even when it gets darker or crystallizes, it is always safe to eat.
Honey May Expire If It Has Additives
Some manufactured honey products may include other additives that will cause that honey to expire. It’s always best to purchase raw honey with no other ingredients to ensure that it will have a nearly indefinite shelf life.
Different Types of Honey
Raw honey is the most basic and commonly available form of honey, and is the version most people are familiar with. It may be filtered or unfiltered, which means that the pollens and waxes from the honeycomb may be taken out or left in. Unfiltered honey is a bit more cloudy as a result, but this does not make it harmful.
Raw honey is widely available at grocery stores and at local farmer’s markets. There are numerous health benefits to eating raw honey from local sources, since exposure to the pollens in your area may help prevent seasonal allergies.
Liquid honey is much lighter and thinner than “raw honey.” It is also called a honey simple syrup.
Honey in this form is closer to how it naturally occurs before bees store honey in their honeycombs. It is clear and runny, and has not yet been processed by the pollens and waxes that convert it into its “raw” form.
Contrary to popular belief, creamed honey does not contain any additional ingredients besides honey. Rather, you can make creamed honey to restore raw honey that has crystallized.
Simply add some crystallized honey to raw honey and mix or whip it together vigorously. The crystallized “seed honey” will bond with the liquid and the crystals will decrease in size. The resulting mixture will end up creamy instead of syrupy.
Creamed honey has a more spreadable consistency, but generally has a shorter “shelf life” - not because it becomes unsafe for consumption, but because it will not remain in its creamy state for long before it starts to separate again. However, you can return it to its creamy form by mixing it again with more raw honey that has not yet crystallized.
Which Type of Honey Is Best for Storage?
Of these three types of honey, raw honey is the most widely available and will remain shelf stable the longest.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker