Does Honey Go Bad?

Many people say that honey is the only food that can’t go bad. Is that true? It is, partially. Does honey go bad? Honey can go bad but that’s extremely uncommon and happens really rarely. If you’ll store honey in decent conditions it’ll easily last years and even decades. Let’s talk in detail about storing honey, its shelf life (or lack thereof) and what must happen in order for honey to go bad (and how to tell).

How To Store Honey

Honey should be stored in a tightly closed jar in a cool, possibly dark place. Pantry and a kitchen cupboard seem the best places. Honey shouldn’t be stored in the fridge because that will speed up the process of crystallization. When it crystallizes, it’s difficult to use honey (both natural honey and commercial one) as a sandwich spread. That’s probably all you need to know about storing honey.

Shelf Life Of Honey

As I’ve mentioned earlier, honey (even natural honey) has a practically indefinite shelf life, of course if it’s stored properly. If it isn’t stored well it can go bad in a matter of a few years, or even quicker. Please note that even when the honey is stored well it may change its appearance or lose a little of its taste if stored for a very long time.

Jars of honey
(credit: zizzy)

Does Honey Go Bad? How To Tell If Honey Is Bad?

Honey consists mostly of sugar, which is hygroscopic. That means that it absorbs water from the environment. Normally honey contains about 18% of water, so any kind of yeast cannot survive in that kind of environment. When the percentage of water in honey rises (that happens when the honey is able to absorb enough water from its environment), some yeasts become able to live in there. If certain yeasts develop in honey, they produce alcohol and the honey ferments. You can easily tell if there’s something wrong with the honey when you taste it. If the taste doesn’t resemble normal natural honey taste, it has gone bad. Once again, this situation is extremely uncommon, but to give you all information you need, you should know that it might happen.

What To Do When Honey Crystallizes?

Some people don’t know what to do when they see a jar of crystalized honey. You should know that honey crystallizes and it’s a completely normal situation. The pace of crystallization depends on the kind of honey and storage conditions. Raw natural honey tends to crystallize faster than a commercial one. Honey crystallization doesn’t mean that it has gone bad, crystalized honey is just fine (although difficult to spread). You can easily liquify it. Just place the opened jar in warm water and stir it. Another way to revive it is by using a microwave. In that case microwave it in short (15-30 seconds) intervals and stir it after each interval. After all the crystals dissolve, your work is done. Of course it can (and most likely will) crystallize again. Take note that reviving honey a few times might contribute to loss of taste and change of color (i.e. loss of quality).


Does honey go bad? It’s possible for it to go bad, but it’s very unlikely. If honey is stored well it should last years and even decades. Please note that it might lose a little of its flavor and appearance over time.