Doing a pantry clean up and come across a jar of honey you forgot you had? You’re in luck because honey is recognized as one of the only foods that does not go bad! If stored properly, pure honey is good indefinitely. In fact, modern archaeologists have found pots of honey still preserved in Egyptian pyramids! The shelf life of honey is attributed to a number of reasons: sugar content, low pH, and low moisture.
Honey is a sugar (a sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates) which helps it stay good forever. Sugars are a chemical family of carbohydrates that have a sweet taste, when you buy your groceries, you can choose between refined sugars, those that have been obtained through a process that extracts the sugar from a plant, like cane sugar or beet sugar, or products composed of naturally occurring sugars, such as honey and maple syrup. It is hygroscopic and very low moisture when sealed. There are very few bacteria and microorganisms that can live in an environment like that.
Honey is also very acidic. It has a pH of around 3.9 which kills off almost anything that could grow in honey. This is because of the gluconic acid in honey which comes from the nectar ripening. This low pH is also what makes honey antimicrobial and perfect for healing wounds and infections.
The bees also add a bit of magic to honey to keep it good forever. When producing honey, bees secrete an enzyme called glucose oxidase into the nectar to help preserve the honey. This later converts to gluconic acid and produces hydrogen peroxide which inhibits the growth of microorganisms.
There are other foods that do not go bad – like rice, salt, or sugar – but the cool thing about honey is it is enjoyable in it’s raw state, unlike the aforementioned foods.
Why is there a best before date on my Peace River Honey jar if it doesn’t expire?
Good question! We use a best before date of two years from the date of production simply for tracking purposes. This date allows us to trace each jar of honey from the hive it was produced at, to your table. We carefully code each jar as they run through our production line.
But my honey is crystallized?
This is actually a good thing because it means your honey is real! Over time, real honey will crystallize. This occurs when the honey gets lighter in colour and takes on a grainy texture. The reason for this is that there is more sugar than can naturally remain dissolved in honey. It has to do with the fructose/glucose ratio in the golden goodness. Different floral sources will crystallize faster than others.
Fear not, placing your honey jar in a pot of hot water will return the product to it’s golden, liquid state.
If you prefer honey that does not crystallize, try Peace River Creamed Honey. The careful conditioning that the honey undergoes results in a product that will not crystallize while still remaining raw honey.
In short, if you find a forgotten jar of honey in your pantry, just smile and enjoy. Honey, as mom’s love, lasts forever…