Does Maple Syrup Go Bad?

So you have a bottle of maple syrup sitting in the cabinet for a few years now. Or maybe there’s an open bottle of maple syrup in the fridge that’s there for at least a few months. In both scenarios the question “does maple syrup go bad?” inevitably comes up.

Now you’re googling for answers. You know that maple syrup lasts a long time, but how long is that exactly? Ad what happens once you open it? In this article, we cover all of those questions and a few more. If you’re interested in learning about storage, shelf life, and signs of going bad of maple syrup, read on. Please note that all the information in this article is about 100% pure maple syrup, not any other product that the syrup is only a part of. For such products, read the label carefully.

Does Maple Syrup Go Bad?
(credit: mrfarmfoto)

How To Store Maple Syrup

As long as maple syrup is unopened, you should store it in a cool, dry area. The pantry is the perfect place, but a kitchen cupboard works too. Once you open the bottle, you should keep it tightly closed and refrigerated. That’s because it’s an all-natural product, and doesn’t contain any preservatives. Truth be told, often you can get away with keeping opened maple syrup at room temperature for a limited time too. I, for one, have a bottle that’s opened for at least a few months now that sits in a kitchen cabinet and the syrup is perfectly fine. Do it at your own risk, though.

If you’ve opened the bottle and need to store the syrup for a super-long period, like a few years, freezing is an option. Choose a freezer-safe glass or plastic container and leave some headspace at the top as the liquid expands when frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can freeze maple syrup in ice cube trays so you can thaw only as much as you need at a time. Either way, while freezing maple syrup is definitely an option, in most cases, it’s not necessary. The product has a really long shelf life, and you’ll most likely use the contents of the whole bottle before its quality degrades noticeably.

How Long Does Maple Syrup Last

Unopened maple syrup is similar to honey, that is it lasts indefinitely. Even though some bottles come with a best-by date because of the government regulations, it stays fine for years longer. That is, of course, if the can or bottle the syrup comes in stays intact, without any visible damage.

Once you open the bottle, maple syrup stays fine for at least a year if stored properly. It will most likely stay fine for much longer, but with time, you will notice a drop in quality. The flavor will change slightly, and it won’t taste as good as it used to. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell you when exactly will that happen. You have to live it for yourself. Either way, even if it tastes pretty bland, it’s still safe to consume, so no worries you’ll get sick from eating “out of date” maple syrup.

Pantry Fridge
Maple syrup (Unopened) Indefinitely
Maple syrup (Opened) 1 year

Please note that the time periods above are approximate and for best quality only.

How to Tell If Maple Syrup Is Bad

Spotting spoiled maple syrup is not that difficult. Signs of mold are the first indicator that your maple syrup is spoiled. Some people recommend scooping out the mold, boiling the maple syrup (to make it safe for consumption) and pouring into a clean container. While that’s an option, I wouldn’t recommend it. In other words, do it at your own risk. Another sign of something going bad with the pancake topping is that it smells off. The smell can be sour (fermentation) or yeasty, of simply “funny.” If the smell is off, just throw it away.

Now an important piece of information: sediment at the bottom of the bottle is not a sign of spoilage and is not harmful. Every time you boil maple syrup sediment forms, and if there is any in your bottle, it likely means it wasn’t filtered well or bottled when the liquid was too hot. Either way, maple syrup with sediment is perfectly safe, and you can filter it out if it bothers you.

If maple syrup looks and smells okay, it’s almost certainly safe to eat. If the taste doesn’t quite hit the spot, you probably should discard the pancake sauce and buy yourself a new bottle. Your taste buds will thank you for that.