Does Honey Expire?

Honey dripping from a dipper on a yellow background.

If you’re anything like us, you probably go through bottles of honey constantly. Honey is so versatile and delicious! It can be used in all types of meals and drinks and can also be enjoyed by the spoonful. We can’t seem to get enough of this golden, sweet treat!

But maybe you’ve found a long-lost bottle in the back of your pantry. Lucky you! Or maybe you’ve been on a honey hiatus and are ready to jump back into the game. If you’ve got an older bottle, it may look solid, and you may wonder if it has gone bad: Does honey expire? Do I need to get a new bottle?

We’ve got answers for you.

Natural, Long-lasting Magic

Natural, properly preserved honey will not expire. In fact, archeologists found honey thousands of years old in ancient Egyptian tombs, and it was still good! While most of us don’t need to worry about honey that old, their discovery proves that if properly contained, real honey can last for a very, very long time. The National Honey Board also agrees. They say, “Honey stored in sealed containers can remains stable for decades and even centuries!”

The reason for the magical longevity of honey lies in its biological makeup. Because of the sugar content and low pH of honey, as well as the bees’ honey-making process, organisms that can spoil food won’t survive in honey. But honey has to be natural and sealed properly to enjoy its long lifespan.

Rows of honey jars displaying various shades of amber.

Normal Changes

Even though honey doesn’t have an expiration date, it can still undergo natural changes. The National Honey Board says that over time honey may “darken and lose its aroma and flavor or crystallize,” depending on changes in temperature.

While changes in aroma or flavor may be less appealing, crystallized honey is completely normal and doesn’t change honey’s taste. In fact, it proves your honey is real and not pasteurized! Crystallization happens most often in real honey, because it contains natural sugars and pollen. If you don’t enjoy those crystals, simply rest your honey in a bowl of warm water for about an hour to dissipate the formations. This won’t change the taste or smell of your honey and certainly doesn’t mean your honey has expired!

Jar of creamy honey with a drizzler and bread basket on a wooden table.

Only Real Lasts

Only natural, real honey undergoes these normal changes and can last for thousands of years. Processed or altered honey doesn’t preserve the natural benefits of honey. And those natural benefits go far beyond a long lifespan.

Honey is a naturally occurring sugar replacement. In order to ensure honey is the real deal, it must be raw and unfiltered, like Nate’s raw & unfiltered honey. Raw honey means that it hasn’t been overheated at high temperatures. Unfiltered honey means that all of the goodies stay inside the honey, including pollen. Having a high pollen count in honey allows you to trace honey back to its original source. This is more than a fun experiment; it proves your honey has come from real, living flowers. No imposters here!

In order to know your honey is 100% real, raw and unfiltered, honey must undergo many tests. You want to ensure that your honey contains lots of pollen but also that there is a clean read of antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides. At Nate’s, our honey undergoes testing both in-house and in external labs. Only the best, highest quality honey can find its way into our bottles.

So next time you’re questioning the lifespan of your long-lost honey bottle, know that it’s very unlikely that it’s expired if you’ve bought 100% pure honey. Even if honey goes through some natural changes like crystallization, it doesn’t mean that it has gone bad or expired. It just means that you’ve got the real deal. Enjoy celebrating the natural magic of honey!

Want to learn more about this natural sugar alternative? Read our post 8 Foods to Pair with Honey.

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