Skip to Content

How long does honey last once opened?

Honey, the sweet and golden liquid produced by bees, has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. It has been used as a natural sweetener, a remedy for various ailments, and even as a preservative. However, there is a common misconception that honey expires or spoils once it has been opened. In this blog post, we will debunk this myth and explore the truth about honey’s shelf life.

The truth about honey expiration

Contrary to popular belief, honey does not expire or spoil. In fact, well-stored honey can last indefinitely, maintaining its flavor, texture, and quality for years. There are several reasons why honey has such a long shelf life.

Honey is a natural preservative

One of the main factors that contribute to honey’s long shelf life is its inherent preservative properties. Honey has a low moisture content and a high acidity level, which create an inhospitable environment for bacteria and other microorganisms to thrive. This makes honey highly resistant to spoilage.

Honey’s low moisture content and high acidity prevent bacterial growth

The low moisture content in honey prevents the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold. Bacteria need a certain level of moisture to multiply, and honey simply does not provide the necessary conditions for them to survive. Additionally, honey’s high acidity further inhibits the growth of bacteria, making it a safe and stable food product.

Archaeological evidence of honey’s long shelf life

Archaeological discoveries have uncovered pots of honey dating back thousands of years. These pots were found to contain edible honey, demonstrating its remarkable ability to withstand the test of time. For example, archaeologists unearthed pots of honey in Egypt’s pyramids that were over 3,000 years old and still perfectly edible.

Storage recommendations for honey

While honey’s natural properties make it resistant to spoilage, proper storage is still important to maintain its quality over time.

Keep honey in a sealed container

To prevent moisture from entering and compromising the quality of your honey, it is essential to store it in a tightly sealed container. This will help maintain its low moisture content and preserve its freshness.

Store honey in a cool, dry place

Honey is best stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Exposure to heat can cause honey to lose its natural enzymes and antioxidants, as well as accelerate the crystallization process. Therefore, it is advisable to keep honey in a pantry or cupboard.

Avoid exposing honey to sunlight or heat

Direct sunlight can cause honey to darken and deteriorate in quality. It is important to keep honey away from windowsills or areas where it may be exposed to prolonged sunlight. Heat, such as placing honey near a stovetop or microwave, can also negatively impact its taste and quality.

Signs that honey has gone bad

While honey may last indefinitely, there are a few signs to watch out for to determine if your honey has gone bad.

Crystallization of honey

Crystallization is a natural process that occurs in honey over time. It causes the honey to become thicker and grainier in texture. While crystallized honey may not be visually appealing, it is still safe to consume and can be easily liquefied by gently heating it in a warm water bath.

Off flavors or odors in honey

If your honey has developed an off-putting taste or odor, it may be an indication of spoilage. Honey should have a sweet, floral taste and a pleasant aroma. If it tastes sour or has a fermented smell, it is best to discard it.

Presence of mold or fermentation

If you notice the presence of mold or signs of fermentation, such as bubbling or fizzing, in your honey, it is a clear indication that it has gone bad. Mold growth or fermentation can occur if the honey has been contaminated or stored improperly.

Tips for extending the shelf life of honey

While honey does not require any special treatment to stay fresh, there are a few simple tips to help extend its shelf life and maintain its quality.

Use clean utensils when scooping honey

When dipping into your jar of honey, ensure that you use clean utensils to prevent any contamination. This will help preserve the integrity of the honey and prevent the introduction of foreign particles.

Close the lid tightly after each use

After using honey, make sure to close the lid tightly to protect it from exposure to air and moisture. Oxygen and moisture can accelerate the crystallization process and degrade the quality of the honey over time.

Store honey away from strong-smelling foods

Honey has a tendency to absorb odors from its surroundings. To prevent your honey from taking on unwanted flavors or aromas, it is best to store it away from strong-smelling foods such as onions or garlic.

Benefits of using expired honey

While the term “expired” may not be accurate when referring to honey, there are still benefits to using honey that has undergone crystallization or extended storage.

Culinary uses for crystallized honey

Crystallized honey can be used in various culinary applications. It can be spread onto toast or scones, drizzled over yogurt or oatmeal, or incorporated into baked goods. Its thicker texture adds a delightful crunch and unique flavor to dishes.

Honey as a natural remedy for minor ailments

Honey has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. From soothing a sore throat to healing minor burns or cuts, honey has been used as a natural remedy for various ailments. Expired honey can still be used for these purposes, as its antibacterial properties remain intact.

Honey’s long shelf life makes it a cost-effective pantry staple

The fact that honey does not expire makes it a cost-effective pantry staple. You can stock up on honey without worrying about it going to waste. Its versatility and long shelf life make it a valuable ingredient to have on hand for cooking, baking, and enjoying its natural sweetness.


In conclusion, honey does not expire or spoil once it has been opened. Its natural properties, including low moisture content and high acidity, inhibit bacterial growth and preserve its freshness indefinitely. By following proper storage recommendations and being aware of signs of spoilage, you can enjoy the benefits of honey for years to come. So, the next time you reach for that jar of honey, rest assured that there’s no need to toss it out. It’s perfectly safe and delicious to enjoy, even if it has been sitting on your shelf for a long time.


  1. How long can you store honey?
  2. Does Honey Go Bad or Expire?
  3. How do I store my honey?
  4. What is the shelf-life of honey after it is opened?
  5. Does Honey Expire? The Answer Might Surprise You