How to Store Honey for the Best Texture and Flavor
Syrupy and sweet, honey is a staple in many households for biscuits, candies, and more. But if you have a jar in your kitchen right now, is that honey stored correctly? If it isn't, you could end up with honey that turns to sugar or crystalizes in the jar or bottle. And while you can sometimes save honey that's no longer fluid, it may never have that luscious texture you love again. So if you can prevent that, you should — and you can with these tips for properly storing honey.
How to Store Honey
For the best results, there are a few key factors you should keep in mind:
Store at Room Temperature
Honey is safe stored at practically any temperature. Honey is resistant to bacterial growth due to its unique composition. It's fairly acidic while having a low water level, too. That means that bacteria don't have a good environment to thrive. With no bacteria to worry about, there's also no spoilage to fret over, and you don't need to keep it in your fridge.
Avoid Air and Heat
But you do want to be mindful of two other storage factors: air and light.
Keeping air out of the container will help the honey stay viscous longer. The best idea for avoiding air is keeping the honey in the container it came in. These bottles and jars are often designed for long-term honey storage with few entry points for air. If you do need to change containers, make sure it's air-tight. Glass or plastic is preferred; metal can oxidize the honey leading to off flavors.
Sunlight, which is not great for stored flour either, is less than ideal for honey. The sunlight and increase in temperature can take a toll on the sweetener. So avoid windowsills, cabinets near ovens, or anywhere that's hit by sun.
Pro tip: Don't stir your tea and then dip your spoon into honey. This can introduce water to the environment, making it more appealing for bacterial growth or fermentation.
Storage for Different Types of Honey
Just because honey won't spoil doesn't mean you should just store honey wherever. When placed in the fridge, the crystallization process for liquid honey speeds up, leading to to a grainy and less-than-appealing product. Because of this, it's best to put liquid honey in your pantry.
Creamed honey is a different story though. When placed in the refrigerator, it creates a firm texture that doesn't crystalize. Or it can easily be stored at room temperature, which leads to a soft and spreadable creamed honey.
How Long Does Honey Last?
The short answer is indefinitely. The longer answer is it depends on the type of honey, how well it's stored, and how it's manufactured. The high level of sugar in honey makes it one of the most shelf-stable foods you can buy. Indeed, it's often found in centuries' old tombs and burial chambers.
While you may not want to eat something older than you, you can rest assured that most honey is still safe to eat if it looks like honey. What does that mean exactly? Honey that has gone "bad" will show you: it will be darker or crystalized. Even then, the honey is likely still safe to eat. It just may have a grainy texture or weak flavors that's not what you're wanting.
You don't have to worry about honey becoming too old to eat. While babies should avoid honey, most kids and adults can eat honey of any age without worry.
Your honey is safe no matter where you store it. Most storage errors only impact the flavor and texture of the honey, not the safety. The pantry is a good bet for all types of honey — it's cool and likely out of the sunlight — but if you're looking for a firmer texture (or are extra nervous about spoilage) the fridge is an alright spot, too.