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Does Honey Need to Be Refrigerated?

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Everyone loves honey. This natural product of bees is not only sweet but it is also a healthy alternative to processed sugar.

Many people say that honey never goes bad, but is it true? How do you store honey? Can you refrigerate it? Read this article.

Does honey need to be refrigerated? You should not refrigerate honey.

Refrigeration increases the rate of crystallization and is not the best way to store honey.

You can, however, keep the honey at room temperature or freeze it.

Why can you freeze honey but not refrigerate it? What other ways can you store honey? Continue reading.

Preventing Honey from Going Bad

It is not common for honey to go bad, but honey can go bad especially if it was commercially produced (hence it lacks some natural elements that prevent it from going bad).

Let us discuss why raw honey can last for so long.

Woman pours honey into transparent jars on a white table

Why Does Raw Honey Last For So Long?

Here are a few reasons why raw honey can last long:

  • More than 80% Sugar, Less than 18% Moisture: The less moisture a product has, the more difficult it is for it to go bad because the major agents that make products go bad are microbes such as bacteria and fungi. When there is little to no moisture, these microbes cannot easily act on a product (in this case, honey).
  • Honey is Acidic: Honey can have a pH of 3.5. Due to its acidic nature, honey discourages the growth of microbes that can spoil it.
  • Natural Bee Enzymes: Bees produce an enzyme called glucose oxidase that can convert sugar to gluconic acid. This process produces a by-product called hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has antibacterial properties, so bacteria cannot easily act on honey.

The reasons above are enough for honey to last eternally. What do you think?

Does Honey Go Bad?

Sadly, honey can go bad due to some factors. How is this possible?

Check out some reasons below:

  • Exposure to Moisture: Remember that honey has less than 18% moisture. If you leave the jar of honey open (in a humid room), the honey will absorb moisture from the air and increase its moisture percentage, giving room to microbes.
  • Unstable Temperature: If the temperature is too hot, it can change the color, texture, and taste of your honey. If the temperature is too cold, it can crystallize your honey.
  • Dirty jar and utensils: The more access microbes (from a dirty jar or utensils) have to your honey, the faster your honey will go bad.

Now, how do you store honey? Continue reading.

Bottle of a natural honey in  the storage room

How to Store Honey

Here are the best ways to store honey:

1. Store at Room Temperature

You can store honey in your pantry, kitchen cabinet, basement, or any place where it does not get too cold or hot.

The ideal temperature to store honey is 70–80° F (21–27° C).

2. Freeze

You can freeze your honey. Freezing honey at 0° F (−18° C) prevents it from crystallizing and also keeps it safe for so many years.

Yes, you can freeze honey for years!!!

Before storing a new jaw of honey, remove some honey from the jar so that there will be space for expansion.

As honey freezes, it expands. To prevent the jar from bursting, you have to make a little space for expansion.

When you want to use the honey after a long time of freezing, you have to thaw the honey.

Do not worry if the honey appears cloudy when you take it out of the freezer. Thawing it will take it back to normal.

You can thaw it by leaving it at room temperature or by warming it slowly (more to be discussed later).

3. Tightly Seal the Honey Jar

If you do not seal the jaw properly, honey can absorb extra moisture, increasing its chance of spoiling. You also have to make sure that there is no leakage from the jar.

The tips above can help you store your honey for a very long time. Now, what should you not do when storing honey?

Precautions to Be Taken when Storing Honey

Here are some precautions:

1. Do Not Refrigerate

Refrigerating honey can increase its rate of crystallization.

In beehives, honey starts to crystallize when the temperature gets below 50° F. You should freeze, not refrigerate.

2. Do Not Store in Direct Sunlight

Glass honey jar on the rocky ground of a natural forest with sunlight

Direct sunlight can increase the temperature of your honey, damaging it by altering its color, texture, and taste.

Just store your honey in a dark place free from direct sunlight.

3. Do Not Store Close to Heat-Emitting Appliances

Just like direct sunlight, heat-emitting appliances can damage your honey as well.

The best places to store honey are the pantry, kitchen cabinet, basement, etc.

4. Do Not Serve Honey with Wet or Dirty Utensils

Using wet utensils can increase the moisture content of honey.

If you use dirty utensils, more bacteria and fungi will act on and spoil your honey.

Always use a clean and dry spoon when serving honey.

5. Do Not Store Honey with Metal Containers

Due to its acidic nature, honey can corrode metals, so do not store honey in a metal container.

The best containers to store honey are the container it comes with, glass jars, or food-safe plastic.

Crystallization of Honey

Crystallization of Honey

What is crystallization and why does honey crystalize?

Crystallization of honey is the process in which the honey hardens due to the high amount of sugars present.

The quickest way for honey to crystallize if the temperature decreases.

How do you prevent honey from crystallizing? You can prevent crystallization by storing honey at room temperature or freezing it.

How do you reconstitute crystallized honey? Simple.

Follow the suggestions below:

  • Place the jar in a pan of warm water on low heat on the stove and stir continuously as the honey warms up.
  • You can also use a warm water bath if you don’t like the idea of actively heating it. You just may have to spend more time and change the water a few times.
  • Do not use a microwave because it does not give you access to the honey (i.e. because you need to stir it) and it can warm up the honey too fast, damaging it.

Did you find the tips useful?

Final Thoughts

If left undisturbed, raw honey does not go bad because of its antibacterial properties.

Freeze honey, but do not refrigerate it.

The best method is to store honey at room temperature away from light and any source of heat. Remember to follow the precautions listed in this article.


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