By: Greg Brian
If you buy raw honey often for its antioxidant properties, and even for healing, have you ever wondered how long it really lasts?
- Some people assume it won’t last long based on the idea anything raw will spoil sooner than later. In truth, raw honey doesn’t spoil, even if some caveats exist in making this happen.
- Also, you can thank nature for making it never go bad. How you store it, however, makes all the difference. And if you have any newborns in the house, you have one serious thing to consider when storing raw honey for long periods of time.
- Everyone knows the value of honey in its taste and through its healthful properties. When buying raw honey, you’re essentially consuming one of the greatest remedies around since early millennia.
What Makes Raw Honey Never Spoil?
To get into a little science here, spoilage all comes down to how much moisture generates in raw honey. What makes raw honey unique is it has a specific combination of acidity, lack of water, and hydrogen peroxide.This combination might not mean anything at first until you realize bacteria can’t live on anything not containing some moisture.
Now you know why when archeologists once found honey in the tombs of Ancient Egypt, they found the substance virtually intact. Maybe not many people would want to consume something that old (especially if any Egyptian curses), yet it really wouldn’t harm you.
The exact term for raw honey’s chemical makeup is hygroscopic. While not a term everyday people use, it describes how honey has virtually no water without outside influence. Yes, it could still get moisture if not properly sealed. Another advantage exists in raw honey seemingly lasting forever. It comes from its natural acidity.
How Acid Kills Bacteria
Did you know that honey has a low pH level, meaning it can easily kill any form of bacteria or fungi? No wonder it works as a natural antimicrobial agent for any human being.
In the realm of never spoiling, you now see the real science in why bacteria will never ruin honey over time. Yes, this means you can also keep honey in storage as a natural way to treat wounds.
The value of an acidic product like honey also means it can remove oxygen from wounds to aid healing. Regardless, it’s not enough acid to cause any kind of problems when consuming. Having the small amount of acid in there prevents bacteria from getting into your digestive system.
Because raw honey has a pH factor of roughly 3.26 to 4.48, it helps kill bacteria faster than other natural sugar foods would, like molasses. Even regular sugar doesn’t have the same level of low moisture content as raw honey.
To show you how the domino effect works in nature, a compelling reason exists why honey maintains such a lack of moisture.
Anyone concerned about bees dying out in the world will likely fret more when realizing what bees do to honey. Their natural body design is a direct influence on why honey is what it is.
The Microcosmic Aid of Flapping Bee Wings
When a bee works with nectar to make honey, the literal flapping of the bee’s wings while they work dries out the moisture inherent in nectar. It’s this very action removing any moisture from the end result as honey.
Talk about a butterfly effect, even if it ultimately comes from bees rather than butterflies.
To get a little more specific, bees also regurgitate nectar, which also carries glucose oxidase with it. Latter enzyme helps create the hydrogen peroxide seen in honey, along with the acidity.
The entire process of how honey gets made naturally has protective qualities, hence why it’s always safe to eat once it’s gathered. Not all natural foods are so fortunate, hence never having to worry about purifying honey before human consumption.
Not that honey still couldn’t spoil if not properly stored in your home. If not properly sealed, don’t expect honey to never eventually take in moisture.
Always Buy a Raw Honey Product Tightly Sealed
Most reliable raw honey products are going to be sealed as tightly as possible to avoid moisture from getting in. If you notice any container looking tampered, it’s a good bet the honey might already be spoiled.
Many stores selling honey place the product inside of airtight bottles. Although even these can get moisture inside if you don’t keep them sealed when you store them away.
The only real risk of leaving a bottle of honey out on a cupboard is ants could attack it, and even find a way inside. If they manage to get in, they could track moisture inside, essentially dooming the honey.
Crystallization sometimes occurs on raw honey products after being refrigerated. A lot of misconceptions occur with crystalized raw honey, with some people assuming the honey is spoiled when it looks this way.
Heating the honey will turn it back to its original form. Plus, freezing honey is a good option for storage since it helps slow down the crystalizing effect. Freezing also keeps it off your cupboard where ants could find it eventually.
Another thing to keep in mind about raw honey is the caution of having it in reach where a newborn could get ahold of it.
Babies Under One Year Old React Negatively to Honey
Raw honey might become spoiled if a newborn consumes it. Because raw honey has potential to cause botulism in infants, you need to keep it out of their reach until a little older.
Once they do taste it early in life, though, they’ll never want to stop from consuming raw honey on everything. Just be sure to teach them about how to properly store it so it never spoils.
Ironically, any raw honey you buy or make now with your children will still be edible when the great-grandchildren of your children exist in the future. One can only wonder how many jars of honey will be consumed hundreds of years from now that’s being made today.