Does Honey Ever Spoil?

What You Ought to Know

Honey is one of the oldest sweeteners consumed by humans, with recorded usage as far back as 5,500 BC. It's likewise rumored to have special, long-lasting properties.

Many individuals have heard of jars of honey being uncovered in ancient Egyptian tombs, still as excellent to eat as the day they were sealed.

These stories have led lots of people to believe that honey simply does not spoil, ever.

However is that real?

This post investigates why honey can last so long, and what can cause it to spoil.

What Is Honey?

Honey is a sweet, natural compound produced by bees from the nectar or secretions of plants.

The bees suck flower nectar, mix it with saliva and enzymes, and shop it in a honey sack. They leave it in the hive to ripen and be utilized as food.

Since the composition of honey depends on the species of the bees along with the flowers and plants they use, it can differ substantially in flavor and color, from clear and colorless to dark amber.

Honey is comprised of roughly 80% sugar and no more than 18% water. The specific quantity is determined by the bee species, plants, weather, and humidity along with processing.

It also contains natural acids such as gluconic acid, which is accountable for its characteristic acidic taste. Furthermore, the pollen found in unfiltered honey includes very percentages of protein, enzymes, amino acids, and vitamins.

Nutritionally, the only substantial nutrient in honey is sugar, with 17.2 grams and 65 calories per tablespoon (21 grams).

There are also traces of minerals, such as potassium, especially in darker varieties, though the quantities are too small to be nutritionally pertinent.


Honey produced by bees collecting plant nectars is a very valuable food. It's high in sugar and consists of trace quantities of other substances such as natural acids, potassium, proteins, vitamins, and enzymes.

Why Honey Can Last a Very Long Time

Honey has a few special residential or commercial properties that assist it to last a long time, including high sugar and low wetness content, an acidic nature, and antimicrobial enzymes produced by bees.

It Is Very High in Sugar and Low in Moisture

Honey is comprised of about 80% sugars, which can prevent the growth of lots of kinds of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungus.

A high sugar material indicates that the osmotic pressure in honey is extremely high. This causes water to drain the cells of microorganisms, stopping their growth and reproduction.

Regardless of including around 17-- 18% water, the activity of water in honey is really low.

This indicates that the sugars engage with the water molecules so they cannot be utilized by microbes and no fermentation or breakdown of honey can occur.

Also, as honey is rather dense, oxygen cannot quickly liquify into it. This, again, prevents numerous kinds of microbes from growing or recreating.

It Is Acidic

The pH of honey ranges from 3.4 to 6.1, with a typical pH of 3.9, which is quite acidic. The main factor for this is the existence of gluconic acid, which is produced throughout nectar ripening.

Originally, it was thought that the acidic environment of honey was accountable for avoiding microbial development. However, research studies comparing ranges with lower and higher pH worths did not find a considerable distinction in antimicrobial activity.

Nonetheless, for particular bacteria such as C. diphtheriae, E.coli, Streptococcus, and Salmonella, an acidic environment is hostile and prevents their growth.

Honey is so effective in killing particular types of bacteria that it's even utilized on burn ulcers and injuries to avoid and deal with infections.

Bees Have Special Enzymes That Suppress Bacterial Growth

Throughout honey production, bees secrete an enzyme called glucose oxidase into the nectar to help protect the honey.

As the honey ripens, glucose oxidase transforms sugar into gluconic acid and likewise produces a substance called hydrogen peroxide.

This hydrogen peroxide is believed to add to the anti-bacterial homes of honey and help prevent the growth of microorganisms.

Likewise, honey has been found to include a range of other substances such as polyphenols, flavonoids, methylglyoxal, bee peptides, and other antibacterial representatives, which might also include its antimicrobial qualities.


Honey has high sugar and low moisture content. It's acidic and consists of the anti-bacterial compound hydrogen peroxide. These 3 features are what permit effectively stored honey to keep for so long.

When Can Honey Go Bad?

Despite honey's antimicrobial homes, it can go off or trigger illness under particular scenarios. These include contamination, adulteration, incorrect storage, and degradation over time.

It May Be Contaminated

The microorganisms naturally present in honey include germs, yeast, and molds. These can come from pollen, the bees' gastrointestinal tract, dust, air, dirt, and flowers.

Due to honey's antimicrobial homes, these organisms are generally just discovered in very little numbers and are unable to increase, which suggests they must not be a health issue.

Nevertheless, spores of the neurotoxin C. botulinum are found in 5-- 15% of honey samples in very percentages.

This is normally safe for grownups; however, babies under the age of one can, in rare cases, develop infant botulism which can trigger damage to the anxious system, paralysis, and respiratory failure. For that reason, honey is not appropriate for this young age.

Also, a lot of microorganisms in honey could indicate secondary contamination throughout processing from humans, devices, containers, wind, dust, insects, animals, and water.

It Can Contain Toxic Compounds

Plant toxic substances can be transferred into the honey when bees collect nectar from particular types of flowers.

A widely known example of this is "mad honey," triggered by grayanotoxins in nectar from Rhododendron ponticum and Azalea pontica. Honey produced from these plants can cause dizziness, queasiness, and problems with heart rhythm or blood pressure.

Additionally, a substance called hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is produced throughout the processing and aging of honey.

While some research has discovered negative results of HMF on health such as damage to cells and DNA, other research studies also report some favorable features such as antioxidative, anti-allergy, and anti-inflammatory residential or commercial properties.

Nevertheless, it's advised that ended up products include no more than 40 mg of HMF per kg of honey.

It May Be Adulterated

Honey is an expensive, time-consuming food to produce.

As such, it has been the target of adulteration for several years. Adulteration refers to adding inexpensive sweeteners to increase volume and minimize expenses.

To cheapen production, bees can be fed with sugar syrups from cane, maize, and beet sugar or sugar syrups might be straight contributed to the completed item.

Also, to speed up processing, honey might be gathered before it's ripe, leading to higher and hazardous water content.

Typically, bees keep honey in the hive and dehydrate it so that it includes less than 18% of water. , if honey is gathered too early the water content can be over 25%. This results in much greater danger of fermentation and bad taste.

It May Be Stored Incorrectly

If honey is stored incorrectly it can lose a few of its antimicrobial homes, end up being contaminated or begin to degrade.

When it's left open or incorrectly sealed, the water material may start to increase above the safe level of 18%, increasing the threat of fermentation.

Open containers or containers can enable the honey to end up being infected with microorganisms from the surrounding environment. If the water material becomes too high, these might grow.

Heating honey at heats can also have negative results by speeding up the deterioration of color and taste along with increasing the HMF content.

It Can Deteriorate and take Shape Gradually

Even when stored properly, it's quite typical for honey to crystallize.

Since it consists of more sugars than can be dissolved, that's. It doesn't indicate it has spoiled but the procedure does trigger some changes.

Taken shape honey becomes whiter and lighter in color. It also becomes far more opaque rather of clear and might appear grainy.

It is safe to consume. Water is launched throughout the crystallization process, which increases the risk of fermentation.

Additionally, honey saved for a long time might become darker and begin to lose its fragrance and taste. While this is not a health threat, it might not be as tasty or appealing.


Honey can go bad when it's polluted, if bees gather nectar from certain poisonous plants and if it's adulterated or saved incorrectly. Crystallization is a naturally occurring process and usually does not suggest your honey has gone bad.

How to Shop and Handle Honey Properly

To make the most out of your honey's lasting properties, it is necessary to save it correctly.

An essential aspect of storage is moisture control. If excessive water enters into your honey, the danger of fermentation boosts, and it might spoil.

Here are some ideas on the very best storage practices:

- Shop in an airtight container: Store-bought jars or bottles, glass containers, and stainless-steel containers with airtight covers are appropriate.

- Keep in a cool, dry location: Honey should ideally be saved listed below 50 ° F( 10 ° C). Keeping it at cool room temperatures in between 50-- 70 ° F (10-- 20 ° C) is generally ok.

- Refrigeration: Honey can be kept in the refrigerator if chosen but it may take shape faster and end up being denser.

- Warm if taken shape: If honey takes shape, you can return it to liquid type by carefully warming and stirring it. Nevertheless, do not overheat or boil it as that will deteriorate its color and taste.

- Avoid contamination by preventing contamination with dirty dishes that can cause bacteria and mold growth.

- If in doubt, throw it out: If your honey tastes off, is foamy or you notice a lot of totally free water, it might be best to throw it out.

Keep in mind that different types of honey may look and taste various. For particular storage directions, describe the ones printed on the label of your item.


Honey should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry area. It is crucial to limit the amount of wetness that can enter into the container as greater water material increases the danger of fermentation.


Honey is tasty, sweet food that can be found in various tastes and colors depending on where it's produced.

Due to its high sugar and low water material, as well as its low pH value and antimicrobial properties, honey may stay fresh for years, decades, or even longer.

Under particular situations, it may go bad or lose their appeal.

Honey might be infected by germs, fungi, yeasts, or molds, though they normally will not reproduce to considerable numbers. It may likewise contain poisonous substances from particular plants or can be adulterated with poor-quality sweeteners or processing.

Additionally, honey that is kept incorrectly will not last as long. It's crucial to keep it sealed in an airtight container in a cool, dry location.

By buying honey from reputable suppliers and saving it correctly, it can be taken pleasure in safely for several years on end.

Honey has high sugar and low moisture content. It's acidic and consists of the anti-bacterial substance hydrogen peroxide. These three features are what enable properly stored honey to keep for so long.

Generally, bees store honey in the hive and dehydrate it so that it includes less than 18% of water.

 If honey is harvested well ahead of time, the water content in it may be over 25%.

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