Honey bear Getty 9/21/20

Who doesn’t love honey? The natural sweetener is delicious, healthy, and incredibly easy to store. Here’s how to make the most out of your honey, honey: 

What Is Honey? 

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Bees on honey Getty 9/21/20

Honey is a sweet, viscous, golden liquid produced by bees using nectar from flowers. Honey is actually one of the world’s oldest foods—there are cave paintings depicting humans gathering honey from 8,000 years ago!

The surprisingly healthy ingredient is used in all sorts of ways: Spread it on your toast or biscuit, stir it into your tea, or use it in your baked goods as a natural sweetener.

Does Honey Go Bad? 

Honey lasts a very, very, very long time. Its longevity can be attributed to its high sugar content (about 80 percent), low moisture content, acidity, and a special enzyme called glucose oxidase that suppresses bacteria growth. These factors create the perfect antimicrobial environment.

However, that doesn’t mean it never goes bad. Certain brands of store-bought honey may be supplemented with water or added sweeteners, throwing off honey’s natural antimicrobial properties. Also, honey that has been stored improperly (open or not tightly sealed) may become contaminated and make you sick. 

How Long Does Honey Stay Fresh? 

Crystallized honey Getty 9/21/20

Properly stored honey can remain safe for decades—but it starts to lose quality after one or two years. Honey that may be past its prime will become cloudy and begin to crystallize. This totally natural reaction doesn’t mean the honey is unsafe to eat, but it may not be as tasty as it once was. 

How to Store Honey 

Honey jars Getty 9/21/20

Keep your honey fresh for as long as possible with these simple storage tips: 

  • When it comes to honey storage, it's all about the container. Most store-bought honeys come in tightly sealable packaging, and it’s totally fine to leave it in the container it originally came in. However, if the packaging is damaged or leaking, transfer it to another container ASAP. We suggest mason jars—the lid is simple to screw on tight and the glass allows you to easily see what’s inside. 
  • Once you have your honey in the right container, stick it somewhere with a consistent temperature (this means keeping it away from the oven and out of sunlight). The best place for honey is generally the pantry or inside a kitchen cabinet. 
  • It’s not necessary to store honey in the refrigerator. In fact, it’s not recommended. Refrigerated honey will harden and be difficult to manage. 

How to Freeze Honey

Honey tout Getty 9/21/20

If you have a lot of honey to store, you may want to consider freezing it to prevent crystallization. It’s best to freeze honey in an ice cube tray so that you can thaw only what you need. To freeze honey: 

  1. Pour the honey into the compartments of an ice cube tray. Don’t fill them up to the top—honey will expand slightly as it freezes, so give it a little room to grow. 
  2. Place in the freezer overnight. 
  3. Once the honey is frozen, you can transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe zip-top bag. Label with the date and freeze it for a few years. 

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