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Food Storage: How to Store Raw Honey Long-Term
Did you know archeologists have found honey that is over 2000 years old, and still edible? This is remarkable because honey, a natural substance, has an indefinite shelf life. However, this is only the case if you can store honey properly. In this article, we will cover how to store raw honey long-term. Fortunately, this is simple, and all you will need is a pantry, fridge, or freezer as well as a proper container.
What Is Raw Honey?
Raw honey is a sweet and viscous natural substance made by honeybees. At a high level, honeybees make honey primarily through a natural refining process of the sugary part of a plant, usually the nectar of a flower. Bees then store the honey in honeycombs to help nourish the beehive. Honey comes in a variety of textures and colors, depending on the type of flowers pollinated.
The difference between raw honey and regular honey is that raw honey isn’t pasteurized but rather comes straight from the honeycomb. Sometimes, the beekeeper may pass it through a filter to get rid of beeswax and pollen. Regular honey undergoes processing that removes some of the beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Unlike regular honey, raw honey is generally opaque and cloudy because it’s not fully filtered.
On top of that, raw honey has many health benefits, including powerful healing and anti-infection abilities. In addition, it contains extra nutritional elements such as:
- Vitamins and minerals
- Amino acids
How to Store Raw Honey Long-Term
Preserving raw honey is pretty straightforward. Your goal should be to reduce exposure to environmental aggressors such as heat, oxygen, moisture, and light. By storing honey in the proper container and location, you will be able to significantly extend the shelf life of honey.
The best container to keep honey is a glass mason jar or stainless steel container. Plastic bottles are also a popular option, but we suggest against this because of the dangers of microplastics. Ceramic containers, although great for decoration, are actually poor storage locations. Also, you should avoid non-food plastic or metal containers as the honey can oxidize and spoil.
Food-Grade Glass Jars
Generally speaking, honey tightly sealed in a glass container will not spoil because it isn’t exposed to chemicals or environmental factors that can spoil it. Plus, this storage method will help the honey preserve its color, flavor, aroma, and texture. Ideally, you should aim for a high-quality food-grade jar, because BPA-free glass will prevent toxic chemicals to contaminate your honey.
Related Article: Long-Term Food Storage in Mason Jars
Stainless steel containers are an effective way to store honey in bulk for long-term storage. Honey should NOT be stored in any other type of metal container as it will oxidize and become toxic when consumed. Because raw honey is acidic with a pH of 3 to 4.5, it can be easily affected by the metallic components of the containers.
You can store honey in a plastic container but we suggest against it to prevent microplastics from leeching into the honey, corrupting the flavor and quality over time. Additionally, many of the natural health benefits of honey will erode when its kept in a plastic container. The longer honey is contained in a plastic bottle, the more the quality will erode, making it a poor choice for long-term storage. If you intend to store honey in plastic, we suggest using the honey within 3 months of storage.
Ceramic honey pots are great for decoration, but not so much for long-term storage. Ceramic pots are not as effective at keeping air out of the pot. If you choose to go with a ceramic pot, we suggest using and refilling the honey within the pot every 2 months.
When picking a storage location, it is really a matter of preference. Typically, there are three locations to store raw honey safely.
Simply remember that honey should not be heated above 100°F (38°C). Otherwise, honey can be stored safely in a pantry, where it can maintain a uniform texture and flavor. And it can also be stored in a fridge or freezer, where it will undergo crystallization, but still retain its nutrients and health benefits.
Below is how to store raw honey in each of the three locations:
Keeping honey in the refrigerator is one of the simplest ways to store honey. By placing it there, you will not have to worry about exposure to light, heat, or water entering the container. However, the cooler temperature will cause the honey to crystallize.
To decrystallize the honey, place the container in a bowl of warm or hot water and stir the container with a clean utensil until it becomes liquid honey.
You can freeze raw honey while it’s still in a liquid state or in contained within a honeycomb. Either way, you can leave it in the freezer for years without it losing its flavor, texture, or nutrition.
Here’s how to store your honey in the freezer:
- Pick a Suitable Container: To store your honey in the freezer, you should choose a container large enough to allow the honey to expand. We recommend you leave about an inch of free space between the honey and the lid.
- Use a Freezer Bag: Once you’ve picked the perfect container, close the lid and place it in a freezer bag. This has two benefits. The first is to prevent honey from absorbing smells, and the second is to contain any leaks.
- Put It In the Freezer: After securing the container and the freezer bag, place the honey in the freezer. At 0°F, your raw honey won’t turn rock hard, but it’ll become a soft, gooey type of solid instead. Then, any time you want to use your honey, take it out of the freezer and leave it to thaw at room temperature in its sealed container.
If you’re in a hurry, you can put the container in a warm water bath.
If you want to maintain the honey’s rich flavor, then the pantry should be your top pick for storing honey. Just make sure you place it in a dark and cool place away from sunlight.
Then, follow these steps to store raw honey long-term in your pantry:
- Choose the Right Container: Generally speaking, honey is a hygroscopic substance, which means it absorbs moisture from the air. Therefore, you should always keep raw honey in an airtight glass container to extend its shelf life.
- Adjust the Temperature: The ideal temperature for storing raw honey is between 57°F and 80°F. Make sure the location you choose has a stable temperature. Any variation can cause the honey to lose flavor, color, and nutritional value.
- Keep Away From Sunlight: You should keep raw honey away from direct sunlight, which can degrade its natural components. The best place for storing honey should be somewhere dark and cool, away from any heat or light sources. The ideal place here is the kitchen cabinet or pantry. It’s not only away from sunlight, but also easy to access. So, avoid storing jars of raw honey on bench tops or window ledges.
Shelf Life of Raw Honey
Raw honey is unprocessed and contains no additives. Therefore, it has a very long shelf life due to its high sugar concentration, which makes it highly stable. In fact, raw honey can live forever if stored under the right conditions.
According to the National Honey Board, the “best by” date on the honey container is only for practical reasons. This means it’s not an actual expiry date because honey can remain safe to consume for decades.
However, it’s natural for honey to undergo some chemical changes while in storage. For instance, it might lose a bit of its color, aroma, or flavor after a long time. However, it doesn’t spoil like other types of food. To make sure color, aroma, and flavor are preserved for as long as possible, keep the honey away from heat, light, and oxygen.
Glass Jar vs. Plastic Bottle
Generally speaking, honey is better preserved in glass jars for long-term storage. Below is a table to show how they compare.
|Category||Glass Container||Plastic Bottle|
|Freshness||Honey in glass will retain its quality for years, if sealed tightly and stored properly||Honey is fresh for 2 months, afterwards the chemicals in the plastic will begin to degrade the quality|
|Shelf Life||Honey will not spoil in a glass jar sealed tightly||Plastic will leech into the honey, spoiling it over time|
|Protection||Protected from air and moisture exposure||Plastic is porous so air will enter the bottle over time. Additionally, the honey may lose water overtime, causing it to ferment|
|Flavor||Glass will keep the flavor, aroma, and color of the honey intact||The chemicals of the plastic will alter the flavor of the honey overtime.|
As you can see from the table above, storing honey in glass jars is better for long-term storage because it preserves the taste but also protects the honey from environmental threats.
People Also Ask
Some common questions we’ve come across are.
If your raw honey has crystallized, know that there has been no change to the nutrients or health benefits of the honey. Generally, there is no difference between crystallized honey and raw honey. Raw honey simply hardens in colder temperatures, crystallizing in the process. Crystallized honey can be reverted to liquid honey, by placing the jar of honey in hot or warm water and waiting for it to melt.
Raw honey is pure honey in its natural state. It has not been filtered, heated, or had additives applied to it. Pure honey contains more nutrients and antioxidants than regular honey. Regular honey, or processed honey, has been pasteurized at high temperatures to remove yeast, as well as filtered to remove any impurities. This results in regular honey being lighter, smoother, and becoming shelf stable. However, it has fewer nutrients and health benefits associated with it.
Processing raw honey requires the honey to be exposed to high heat which removes the yeast and makes the honey smoother. Additionally, it is filtered to remove impurities and air bubbles, allowing it to retain a smooth texture for longer. After processing, much of the nutrients and minerals are removed from the honey. Some processed honey may even have sugar applied, to sweeten the honey. We always recommend raw honey over processed honey when possible.
Although honey does not expire, the flavor, aroma, and color of the honey will change over time. So companies are required to include a “best by” date to indicate the honey is no longer fresh. However, you can preserve the honey and maintain its quality by storing it properly. When storing honey, make sure to keep it in a cool and dark place, away from heat and light for maximum freshness and shelf life.
Raw honey comes straight from the hive, so it’s as natural as can be. Sometimes, it’s filtered to remove large debris. However, it still contains many elements lacking in processed honey, such as enzymes, antioxidants, and vitamins.
When properly stored, the shelf life of honey is indefinite However, to ensure it is well preserved, it is important to protect honey from exposure to air, heat, light, and moisture. For this reason, storing in a cool and dark place, such as a pantry, fridge, or freezer are best for long-term storage.
If you enjoyed this article, consider reading our related articles.
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If you are looking to buy cookware, you probably came down to ceramic cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Learn to see which is better for you.