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Storing Honey for Best Quality
Honey is a perfect food– as soon as the bees finish with it. But as a natural food, we sometimes feel that we need to take too many precautions with it. This wonderful natural food doesn’t spoil but keeping it in the best location will preserve the integrity of it for a longer time. These tips on finding the best way to store honey are sure to help you protect your investment.
After carefully selecting the perfect jar of raw honey, your first taste exceeds your expectations. Wow, this really tastes great.
But, you can’t eat the whole jar at one time… or at least you probably should not! Even though it is a special treat – remember it is still a sugar.
Chances are you will end up having the jar sitting around for a while. Unless of course you discover all the other wonderful things you can do with honey.
Now, what can you do with that jar of liquid gold to protect it and keep it fresh? You know what they say about “good intentions”?
Well, your best intentions may lead you to do the absolutely worst things for this precious food made by bees!
What is Raw Honey?
Raw food products are in their original form as created in nature. Nothing is added or harmed in the components of the product.
Some people can not consume raw products – hence pasteurized products are a better option for them. Honey can only be called “raw” if it has not been processed, super filtered or heated.
But remember, beekeepers do need to strain out huge pieces of wax. Letting it drip through a sieve under no pressure does no harm. Every beekeeper need to do this step to provide a liquid product without bits of wax.
Each harvest is unique. Because each season different flowers may or may not produce the same amount of nectar as in a previous year.
In my bee yard, it is not unusual to have one bucket of that is very light in color and another very dark. Flavor and color of honey will vary from season to season.
I found a nice dispenser with a tight sealing stopper and lid. It is one of my favorites and holds up well to repeated use.
Great for a family with kids (young or older) that are prone to being messy. This jar is a perfect companion to larger storage jars. Its a great way to serve smaller amounts. You will love it – I keep mine sitting on my stove.
Does Honey Go Bad?
Honey does not go bad and will last indefinitely if protected from moisture. It may lose color and some flavor. But it will still be safe to eat. The low moisture content, low ph and antibacterial properties prevent spoilage.
However, allowing water or moisture to get into the jar, can cause fermentation and spoilage. When this happens, it will smell yeasty . This is part of the process of how mead is made.
Natural Process of Crystallization
What happened? My jar has become solid! This is a common cry among consumers who do not understand the nature of this natural sugar.
You may also hear the term “turned to sugar”. But, it does not mean that anything has been added honey does not go bad in any way – because of this natural crystallization process.
It may look very different than you expected. But, don’t be fooled by the gritty texture, it is not spoiled. It has crystallized.
Almost every type of honey crystallizes at some point. This is a natural process and happens faster when the product is stored at cold temperatures.
Crystallized honey is often thrown out – what a waste! You can still eat it. In fact, some people love it in the crystallized form.
You can even make your own – we call it creamed honey – and the crystals are small and smooth – not gritty.
Why does this happen to some types jars and not others? The rate of crystallization depends on the nectar sources, storage temperature and other variables. A few varieties will never crystallize but most types will do so over a long enough period of time.
How Long Does Honey Last?
Raw honey can crystallize faster than commercially prepared products. It does not mean that sugar or anything has been added. Don’t be turned off-if your jar crystallizes.
In fact, that gritty jar may actually be more nutritious than the beautiful golden bear from the supermarket!
If most natural honey “turns to sugar” in time, how can those supermarket bears be so beautiful and clear? How indeed?
Once you have gone to the effort of buying a good quality product, you want to protect its nutritional value. None of us want to waste money on food.
Do you want to keep it in a liquid (pour-able) state? There are certainly a few things you can do to slow down the crystallization process.
First, consider the temperature of the area where you keep your honey. It plays a roll in how fast crystallization takes place. A warm room temperature cabinet in the kitchen often works well.
Honey is made by bees and what a wonderful story of survival it is! It is the perfect food for long term storage in a bee hive.
Once stored in wax cells and capped with wax – the bees can depend on food for the cold Winter months.
Sometimes, we humans want to improve upon natural things. We want our jar of sweet goodness to sit on a shelf in a pristine state for months.
The practices used to create a beautiful product for the grocery shelf are not necessarily kind to our nutritious raw food.
While honey will be safe to eat for a long time, it can darken in color and become more solid. That’s doesn’t look pretty on the grocery shelf – so large commercial packers use intense filtration.
The product is pushed through a filter under pressure to remove bits of wax and small crystals. The end product is beautiful, uniform and it will look good on a shelf for a long time.
But ultra filtration removes some of the micro-nutrients and pollen too. Thereby, lessening the nutritional value of the product.
Should You Store Raw Honey in the Refrigerator?
No – that’s not the best place to keep your it. This is a common question asked about storage. No cold storage or vacuum sealed jar is required.
Please don’t put your it in the refrigerator. It will not make it last longer or keep it fresher. But if you put your jar in the frig, that’s okay – it is still good. Just maybe a bit gritty!
Storing Honey in the Freezer
Honey can be stored frozen in the comb or place liquid in a container with room for expansion.
Freezing protects the integrity of your raw product. In fact, it can be frozen for several years. When you are ready to use, thaw at room temp in sealed containers.
Use silicone trays to freeze small portions. A great way to seek relief for sore throat pains or coughs, just pop out a frozen “cube” and put it in hot tea.
Best Container for Honey Storage
The best thing you can do for your honey is to store it in a tightly sealed jar. Keeping it at room temperature and in a dark cabinet preserves color and flavor.
Handmade pots are beautiful to use and make great gifts. However, do not leave a large amount of honey sitting out in them as most do not seal. Honey is acidic. This is one reason it never spoils – bacteria doesnt grow well in it.
But this does not mean that you should not take precautions to keep it protected from environmental influences such a dust.
Do give a bit of thought about what type of container you choose for storage. Glass or plastic is fine. It is perfectly okay to re-use a glass jar with a tight lid.
However, because it can absorb moisture and odors – please don’t re-use an old pickle jar. Unless of course, if you want to add a bit of pickle aroma to your raw honey, that’s your call.
Using large-mouth glass jars, is one of my favorite methods of storage for long term. You can spoon out as much as you need – even if it crystallizes.
These large containers (half-gallon) will hold a lot of product but are not too heavy to lift. Smaller amounts can easily be transferred to a serving container.
My favorite storage option is glass jars in a kitchen cabinet. Glass allows me to see inside without opening the container. If it is cold and slow to pour, I can put the jar in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
( I break the rule and store a small jar right on my stove top. – I am a rule breaker that way. ) Any “tight sealing” pot or container is okay.
Storing Fresh Honeycomb
Do you enjoy eating honeycomb? Some folks enjoy eating beeswax with the comb. It is really sweet but a bit waxy! First the bad news, if you have a piece of comb inside your jar – it will crystallize faster. Solution?
Eat it first! But, what if you have several pieces of comb that you want to save for later. Surprisingly, freezing is a good option. You can wrap the pieces of comb rightly in plastic wrap and freeze.
Recapping the 3 Best Tips for How to Store Honey
- keep it in a tight sealing container
- store your jar in a dark location
- keep in a warm location – it will crystallize slower
If you want to enjoy honey in a different form, you can use a dehydrator to make your own honey powder. As for that jar in the pantry, give some careful consideration to finding the best place to store it and you will be able to enjoy every last drop.