When you find yourself looking at your pantry to make sure that nothing is out of date, you might begin to wonder about some of the condiments or spices that you keep near the stove. After all, chances are that most people don’t give a lot of thought to their spices and condiments going bad, right? With some spices and condiments, you might want to be careful with, but for the most part, you don’t really have to worry about it all that much. Most of these products have a “best by” date, rather than an expiration date. This means that after the date printed has passed, the product might begin to lose its taste, but it will still be safe to eat. Honey is quite a bit like this. After a while, it might begin to lose its flavor, especially if it is left open. However, it technically lasts forever.
Does Honey Expire?
To put things simply, honey never expires. It doesn’t go bad, and it does not become rotten. It will not grow mold, and it isn’t going to spoil. Your honey will last until it runs out, or until you want to have some fresh honey. This means that you could easily consider purchasing honey in bulk, without having to worry about it spoiling and becoming a waste.
Typically, manufacturers will put a “best by” date on the honey. This has no bearing on whether or not the honey is safe to eat, and it really only applies to the taste of the honey. As with all foods, if it is not stored properly, or left open for too long, honey can become discolored and lose its fresh taste. This is about the extent of how much honey changes over time. If you notice that it is discolored, or it is well past the “best by” date, the taste might be a little bit off, but it will still be safe for everyone in your family to eat.
Honey is one of those rare foods that never really goes bad, which is great for people who enjoy using honey as an all-natural sugar substitute, or to add flavor to otherwise boring snacks.
How Does Honey Change?
Over time, honey might change colors or appearance, especially if it is not stored properly. Even though it will still be completely safe to eat, crystallized honey is not really the most appetizing thing to look at. Usually, when honey begins to age, it will start becoming more yellow and it will become cloudier, instead of its usual golden and clear appearance. As for the texture, it will become thicker and grainier over time as well. This happens because as honey ages, it will start to crystallize, and this is the first step in that process.
As honey begins to crystallize, it will begin to turn white in appearance, and its texture will become harder. To be more specific about what is happening to your honey, the glucose in it is beginning to spontaneously crystallize, giving the honey a granular appearance. While it might look vastly different from the honey that you know and love, crystallized honey is still completely safe to eat, and it is even reversible if you want to get the normal state of your honey back.
How Do You Reverse Crystallized Honey?
Reversing the crystallized honey is about as easy as it can get when it comes to fixing food. All you have to do is get the honey out of its container and into a bowl. The bowl should be large enough to hold the honey and some water. The next thing you should do is run it under a hot tap. Make sure that the bowl can either withstand boiling temperatures, or the water is not quite boiling hot. This process might take some time, depending on how hardened the honey is and how hot the water is, but it is a quick and efficient way to reverse the crystallization of the honey.
Another method you could try is microwaving the honey. You start this process the same as before, although you should make sure that the bowl you are using is microwave safe. Next, you should put the bowl of hardened honey into the microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds, depending on how strong your microwave is. Weaker microwaves, as you might imagine, are going to take a little bit longer to completely melt the honey. Likewise, stronger microwaves might need less time to melt the honey.
If you want to get specific about exactly how much you need to heat up the honey, you should know that crystallized honey only has a melting point that ranges between 104- and 122-degrees Fahrenheit (or 40 and 50 degrees Celsius). Where the honey falls in this range depends on just how solid it is, the composition, and other various factors.
Can You Prevent Honey From Crystallizing?
Unfortunately, there is no real way that you can prevent honey from crystallizing. Of course, you could consume it all before it has the chance to crystallize, but this might not be an option for some people, especially people who prefer to purchase honey in bulk. Honey is also best stored in the original container it came in, so there isn’t much that you can do in terms of keeping it in a different place.
Ultimately, crystallized honey is a natural part of life, and it is simply what happens to honey when it exists for a long period of time. While it doesn’t necessarily look appetizing, there is no real threat to having the honey be crystallized, and thankfully, you can easily reverse it within 20 seconds of microwaving it. Another thing to know about honey crystallization is that it doesn’t happen all at once. It is a slow, gradual process. This means that if you see the honey becoming crystallized, you will know that it is time to either heat it up, or use it up if you do not want to see it.
If you do not like crystallized honey, you can purchase small quantities of honey, and use all of it up before it hardens. This might cost more, depending on how much honey you use.
What About Putting Honey in Other Foods?
Since honey can last forever, you might begin to wonder how long other foods with it can last. For instance, if you put honey in your tea, does that mean that your tea can also last forever? Unfortunately, no. While putting honey in your tea is a wonderful alternative to sweetening it with sugar, your tea will expire whenever its best-by-date is. When such combining foods, you should expect it to last as long as the quickest-expiring ingredient does.
Purchasing your honey in bulk is the best way to save money on it, when you eat it regularly. You shouldn’t worry about it going bad or being unsafe for consumption. In fact, you can even eat the crystallized honey if you wanted to, although the taste is probably going to be off. The only thing that you will have to keep an eye on is whether or not the honey has become crystallised.