Does Honey Go Bad or Expire?

Honey is a sticky and deliciously sweet semi-liquid produced by honey bees. Through several processes and reactions using enzymes, bees produce honey from nectars of flowers. It’s the natural sweetener to your food which adds a great and unique taste to our taste buds. Honey is used as medicine, as personal care and also as an ingredient to our food items with so many benefits. Raw honey is the best of a kind because it is full of antioxidant and antimicrobial agents with bee pollen. The best thing about it is this thing never goes bad.

Does Honey Ever Expire?

Honey Bee
Why are we so afraid of these guys?

How We Use Honey

Honey is chemically stable. It usually crystallizes easily over time. So it may not be easy to use as it is not in liquid form, so we just need to heat it to gain its original smooth consistency. Honey is nothing but sugar, but it’s not same as the sugar we use in daily life. It’s a composition of carbohydrates, amino acid, proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. Honey is supersaturated which is a saturated solution of sugar which contains so many useful enzymes. One of the catalysts is glucose oxidase, which helps to break glucose into smaller units like gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. As honey is supersaturated when it comes in contact with moisture it loses its antibacterial property so we should always keep it in a dry place and closed container.

Preservation of Honey

Honey is highly inhospitable to foreign microorganisms. Sugar is hygroscopic means it attracts water, and when the bacteria and other micro-organisms in water come in contact with honey, it gets killed, because honey has a pH level of 3 to 4.5. Its pH is much less than seven so which is considered as really acidic. It is the perfect pH for killing bacteria, so we don’t see anything can spoil honey. It contains both organic acid and amino acid in it. However, the natural acid content is more. Organic acid mostly comprises of gluconic acid. It contains fewer amounts of acetic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, butyric acid, formic acid, etc.

There is another secret behind why honey does not spoil that is nothing but water. Water plays a vital role in keeping honey away from ruin. Honey is collected nectar from honey bees which consists of 60-70% of water in it. But after honey bees process the honey solution in their stomach the water content reduces drastically. Honey is made up of 15-17% of water, so its water content is much lower than many microorganisms which do not allow any microorganism growth in honey. But its quality may degrade by dilution when it comes in contact with moisture. If the water percentage goes above 25%, it starts fermentation, so it’s better to keep it in a sealed container.

Also, the amount of hydrogen peroxide in honey makes it more difficult for bacterial growth. The decomposition of glucose produces this hydrogen peroxide by glucose oxidase. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is very similar to water, but it has an extra oxygen atom which makes it more destructive element. It oxidizes the cell walls of bacteria. It also extracts electrons from bacteria thus by destroying its structure. The extra oxygen acts as a lethal agent in hydrogen peroxide.

So low water activity and extremely acidic property in addition to the hydrogen peroxide content altogether make honey an unpleasant place for any microbial which helps honey to be a unique food which is edible even after so many years. Microbial can’t grow because they can’t get enough of resources to survive in honey. The only harmful content in honey is Clostridium botulinum if you are under one year old. Oldest edible honey was found in pyramids of Egypt which was approximately 3000 years old which is a proof that honey does not go bad.

Does Honey Go Bad?  Not for a long time, if stored properly!

So if you want Honey to stay edible, keep all good qualities of honey intact we need to keep it in some dry and sealed container to keep it away from moisture or humidity of the environment.  No need to buy Honey in bulk!

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2 Comments

  • Money Beagle
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm 0Likes

    The problem we’ve found is that the container inevitably gets a little sticky and then it might not close 100%, and this is generally when things tend to not go well. I guess we probably need to find a better way to store/use it.

    • Todd Weitzman
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 4:19 pm 0Likes

      That is a good point. Probably a good wipe down of the top of the bottle after use may help. Thanks Mr. Beagle!

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