Does Honey Go Bad?

Clumps or crystals don't mean that honey has spoiled

A jar of honey

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Honey does not go bad. In fact, it's recognized as the only food that doesn't spoil. It will, however, crystallize (becoming thick and cloudy) over time. If this happens, just remove the lid from the jar, place it in a pan of water, and warm it over low heat until the honey returns to its original consistency. If your honey is in a plastic container, pour it into another container first.

Keep a close watch over your pot, and adjust the heat down as needed. You don't want the water to come to a boil. Exposing the honey to too high of a temperature will kill its many beneficial enzymes.

The Spruce Eats / Ashley Nicole Deleon.

Other Ways to Heat Honey

You can also heat your honey in the microwave. Just cook it for 30 seconds, stir it, and heat it again until the sugar dissolves back into the honey. Just know that this method is likely to kill all of the beneficial enzymes and special properties found in raw honey.

Because of this, you may only want to use the microwave method to de-crystallize pasteurized honey. All of those special qualities will already be missing from the honey.

Storing Honey in the Refrigerator

To keep honey from crystallizing prematurely, store it at room temperature. Storing honey in the refrigerator will cause it to crystallize rapidly, and isn't necessary since it doesn't go bad.

Of course, if you prefer crystallized honey, which can be a chewy sweet snack, refrigeration is the way to go. Just be advised that if it's in a bear-shaped bottle or another container that it will be hard to remove crystallized honey. Spread it out on a plate or other flat surface so you have a long strip of crystallized honey that can be cut into bite-sized pieces.

Other Methods for Using Honey

To ensure that no honey goes to waste, spray your measuring cup or spoon with cooking oil or run it under hot water before you measure out your honey. This will cause the honey to drop right out of the cup or spoon when you add it to a recipe, so nothing gets left behind. As expensive as honey is these days, you sure don't want to wash any of it down the drain.

If you have a stuck lid, run the jar under hot water for a minute to soften up the honey that's hardened around the rim. The lid should loosen right up when you go to turn it again.

Honey Substitutes

If you ever run out of honey, you can use a number of substitutes, until you're able to get to the store for another jar. Indeed, there are over 70 ingredients you can substitute for honey, from almond and vanilla extract to allspice and even beer.

More About the Shelf Life of Foods

While you're wondering about how long honey lasts, take time to learn about the shelf life of pantry foods,  the shelf life of refrigerated foods, and the shelf life of frozen foods. Unlike honey, most other things in your cupboard or pantry have expiration dates.