Honey is a durable, dense and high nutritional value formed by the processing of nectar collected by bees from flowers with a number of enzymes they secrete from their bodies. Does honey have a use-by date? Whether honey, a miraculous nutrient, will be spoiled or not, has recently been the subject of debate. Some sources say it is the only product with no use-by date, but the other says that it could be spoiled if not properly maintained.
Honey has no use-by date. It is a product that does not deteriorate because there is no microbiological deterioration in it and it even destroys the developing microorganisms. You just need to protect honey from sunlight and heat. This is due to the increase in HMF, a carcinogenic substance in honey, depending on the temperature.
Honey has no expiration date unless stored under the correct ambient conditions. Honey is one of the rare products that can be stored intact as long as the water does not enter into honey. Another question about honey is whether it can be consumed after crystallization. Experts indicate that the crystallized honey can be consumed in its natural state or that it can be consumed by dissolving the crystallized water in short-term 45 ° C hot water under controlled conditions and add: ” Uncontrolled consumption of honey at high temperatures and for long periods of time is not correct. However, controlled short term low temperatures do not harm the structure of honey. Honey heated in this way can also be consumed.”
Even if you find the jars of honey that have been opened and forgotten somewhere after the lid has been closed, you will see that the honey inside has not been spoiled. Archaeologists come across intact honey during excavations. Well, what’s the reason? A piece of pasta or vegetables you have forgotten in the refrigerator can be seen in an undefined shape only after a week. But the same thing does not apply to honey.
Bacteria are fed with sugar and other substances in the foods they contain. After a while, they release acid and other chemicals as waste. These chemicals cause changes in the color, smell, and taste of foods. Like many other life forms, bacteria need water to survive. Almost all food contains water, while honey has almost no water. This ensures that there are no suitable conditions for the growth and survival of bacteria.
Very little water in the honey is not enough for bacteria to survive. Honey stored with the lid open will be broken down by interacting with air. However, honey in an unopened jar can remain intact for centuries. Honey in closed jars crystallizes and hardens. However, this does not mean that it’s spoiled.
Why Honey Has No Use by Date?
As a result of the harmonious coexistence of numerous factors such as acidity, lack of water and hydrogen peroxide, this sticky flavor can remain intact. Modern archaeologists, who dig ancient Egyptian tombs, often found something unexpected among the historical monuments in the tomb: pottery with thousands of years old and still fresh honey. Thus, the shelf life of honey has been proven unquestionably.
A few other nutrients remain intact are salt, sugar, dry rice. But the distinctive aspect of honey is that it remains completely edible intact. So dry rice or salt can not be consumed after a while as a nutrient, where you can eat honey. In addition, the factors that keep honey intact provide it with medical uses that are not in any other nutrient. What makes honey so special?
The deterioration of a nutrient occurs when organisms of the microscopic size such as fungi or bacteria eat inside the food, start to breed, and cause decay, mold, and smell. Almost all foodstuffs have a suitable environment in which microorganisms can be fed and reproduced, ie all foods can be degraded over time, with the exception of honey.
Honey, which is a kind of syrup containing all kinds of sugar, can be considered as a suitable environment for the growth and development of bacteria, but honey is the only food that does not spoil and there is no other nutrient that can remain intact in the world under normal conditions. The most important witnesses are the archaeologists who, when they enter the pyramids, the tombs of the pharaohs, taste the thousands of years old honey they found there and amazed that they are still intact.
Honey is not spoiled because of three main properties: It is very acidic, the amount of water in it is very low, and it has water-absorbing properties. In other words, there is nothing in the honey that microorganisms can develop by consuming. Honey is really acidic. There are all kinds of acids from citric acid to acetic acid, from formic acid to amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. Many microorganisms cannot survive in such an acidic environment.
Water is the most important thing for the life of all organisms. The moisture content of honey is about 14-18 percent, which means that there is not enough water to live in it. No living organism can reproduce at a humidity of less than 18 percent and fungi coming from the air cannot survive in honey. Since this moisture content keeps the sugar inside the honey melted, no environment can be formed where bacteria and fungi can live, so honey both is not spoiled and can be used for preserving other things.
Since honey contains more than 80 percent sugar and less than 20 percent water, it is highly concentrated. Due to the fact that the water content of the honey is less than the water content of the bacteria cell, it absorbs the water from the bacteria entering it by osmosis. Microorganisms that lose water rapidly die or cannot multiply even if they do not die. Due to this dehumidification feature, honey is used in pastes and pastry foods to prevent them from becoming stale and to maintain their freshness and softness.
Those sugars present in honey, especially glucose and fructose, making it an ideal sweetener 20 to 60 times sweeter than sugar. It can be thought that such sweet food should be harmful to health. However, honey does not contain fat, cholesterol and sodium. Since it contains all the elements necessary for human life, a person can live only by eating honey and it is unique in this regard.
It is also the subject of research to improve wound healing without any scarring when applied to cuts and wounds. A kind of protein called collagen is formed in the wounds. It is thought that glucose, which is a simple sugar in large amounts in honey, chemically combines with the collagen in the wound and prevents the formation of wound tissue. In addition, because it contains very little water, it is accepted that it terminates the presence of water in the environment in which it is applied as a layer and prevents organisms from living and reproduction. Honey does not deteriorate, but when the water in it evaporates, it can crystallize, if diluted, it can start to ferment. The confection of honey does not imply quality deterioration. Honey stored in a cold and dry environment can last another five thousand years.
A Scientific Explanation of the Absence of the Use by Date of Honey
Honey is a very useful food that is formed by the chemical change of the nectar which is collected from flowers and fruit buds by bees in the organs of the bees called honey stomach by means of invertase enzyme and placed in honeycomb cells in the hive. If we say “honey is miraculous food,” I guess we won’t exaggerate. Such that, honey is the only food with no expiration date. In fact, honey was found in the Egyptian Pyramids more than 3000 years old and still intact.
There are several reasons why honey does not spoil. Honey is naturally extremely acidic. The pH of honey is between 3-4.5 and this acid medium prevents bacterial growth. In addition, Honey is hygroscopic because of the sugar content, ie it contains very little water. This is another reason that prevents the growth of bacteria. There are other foods that are both high-sugar and hygroscopic (such as molasses), but they break down even after a long time.
The reason why honey doesn’t spoil when molasses do is hidden in the recipe of bees. Bees store nectar and pollen in their stomach to produce honey before making honey. This stomach contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase. Then the bees vomit the nectar contained in these special stomachs to make honey. As a result of the operation of this enzyme, the resulting liquid also produces by-products such as gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide, which is one of these by-products, is another obstacle in front of the organisms that may disrupt honey.
In addition, various researchers have found diastase (or amylase), nicotine, invertase, catalase, oxidase, and phosphatase enzymes in the honey. Some of these enzymes come from the plant and some come from the secretory glands of the bee. These enzymes are also effective in preserving honey. Of course, the main reason to ensure that honey does not deteriorate: to hide it in a closed container. The deterioration of honey that is kept airtight will be very unusual. Since honey is not spoiled and bacteria cannot grow in it, it has been used as an antiseptic since ancient times. In ancient Egypt and the Sumerians, honey was used in special healing ointments and dressings. Even today, honey is used in alternative medicine for healing burns.
Furthermore, the use of honey and beeswax has been widespread in ancient Egypt in embalming and preserving the dead. In addition, honey has been used in germ-free treatment in areas without a reliable source of drinking water. There is also evidence that honey is used to treat stomach ailments.
In summary, we can say: Bacteria are fed with sugar and other substances in the foods they contain. After a while, they release acid and other chemicals as waste. These chemicals cause changes in the color, smell, and taste of foods. Like many other life forms, bacteria need water to survive. Almost all food contains water, while honey has almost no water. This ensures that there are no suitable conditions for the growth and survival of bacteria. Very little water in the honey is not enough for bacteria to survive. Honey stored with the lid open may spoil by interacting with air. However, honey in an unopened jar can remain intact for centuries.
Factors Affecting Honey Not Having a Use by Date
Chemical Composition of Honey
The main factor that keeps honey intact is its chemical composition. Honey is, above all, a sugar. Sugars, as you may know, are hygroscopic; that is, they contain very little water in their natural state. But if it is left in the open, it absorbs moisture and holds the water because of these properties. Amina Harris, director-general of the Honey and Pollination Center of the Robert Mondavi Institute on the Davis Campus of the University of California, explains: “Honey has very low humidity in its natural state. Very few bacteria or microorganisms can survive in such an environment.” Harris’ words refer to an important point in terms of longevity of honey. So, for honey to spoil, there must be something inside that could spoil. In such an uninhabitable environment, organisms cannot survive long enough to give the honey a chance to deteriorate.
Honey is also naturally extremely acidic. “The pH of honey is between 3 and 4.5, and this acid kills almost anything that tries to live there,” Harris explains. Therefore, the bacteria and other organisms that may cause degradation has to find another door for themselves. There is no life for them in honey.
In fact, honey is not the only food that is both hygroscopic and acidic. For example, molasses is also extremely hygroscopic and slightly less acidic (pH about 5.5) than honey. However, even it will take a long time, molasses eventually spoil.
Bee Factor in Honey
So how is it that one of the sugar solutions spoil and the other stays intact? The reason is the bees! Nectar, the first material collected by bees to make honey, naturally contains a large amount of water; an estimated 60-80%. But during the process of making honey, bees officially dry the nectar by flapping their wings. In addition, the chemical composition of the stomach of the bees has a large share in the strength of the honey.
There is an enzyme called glucose oxidase in the stomach of bees. Bees vomit the nectar they collect to make honey. The resulting nectar is mixed with this enzyme and has two by-products: gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide, which is one of these by-products, is another obstacle in front of the organisms that may disrupt honey. Therefore, honey has been used as a medicinal curative for centuries. Due to its very thick consistency, it prevents proliferation and protects against infection with hydrogen peroxide.
The oldest record for the medical use of honey is found in Sumer tablets: 30% of prescriptions have honey. The ancient Egyptians used medicinal honey as an ointment for skin and eye diseases. “Honey was used to crow the wound, burn or incision; because nothing can reproduce in it, which is a natural band-aid,” Harris says. Honey, if left open, absorbs moisture. Thanks to this feature, it absorbs the fluid in the wound and prevents it from being infected and gives a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. This hydrogen peroxide exiting the honey is exactly the desired amount; supports healing.
Since the industrial honey sold in the markets are processed, they do not contain any particles and do not crystallize. The natural honey you get from the beekeepers, on the other hand, contains pollen and enzyme particles and can crystallize. This should not worry you; cover as long as you keep it closed. Apparently, keeping honey in a closed container is the last factor that ensures the eternity of shelf life. As long as it does not absorb moisture and no water is added in it, honey remains intact even after centuries.
How to Store Honey?
You have received the most natural, best and most delicious honey on the market. At first, you have a container provided by the place you buy, but let’s say this container is cracked and leaking. What to do? It is necessary to re-determine the environment and container that will store the honey in the most appropriate way. In fact, honey storage is not a very complicated process. To keep the honey fresh, it is basically a container suitable for storing honey and providing a cool and dry environment in which to store this container. However, if you want to store honey for a much longer-term, freezing and storing is also a method. Now, first, let’s start by touching on the tips on how to keep the honey short-term.
First, you need to choose the right container to store honey. Of course, when you buy the honey, you get a container automatically, but if you need to divide it or transfer the honey to other containers as a result of damages in the first container purchased, materials such as glass jars, plastic containers, and pickle jars can be used.
After finding the appropriate container for our honey, what we need to do is to choose the environment in which we will keep this container in the best way. The first thing to do for this is to find a constant temperature environment. Well, if you say what is meant by this temperature, honey is a food that can be stored at temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees, so it is ideal to have a constant temperature between 10 and 20 degrees. Frequent temperatures can cause deterioration in the consistency and color of honey. However, temperature changes between 10-20 degrees are not a problem. However, storing honey near a cooker or stove-like appliance is not recommended, as it will cause sudden temperature changes. In this context, we can say that standard kitchen cabinets are ideal for storing honey in many homes.
When storing the honey, it is important to be sure to store it in a place that is not exposed to sunlight. This should be avoided because of both the temperature criteria and the fact that most honey species are produced in environments with no sunlight in their natural environment.
Also, when using containers suitable for storing honey as stated at the beginning of the article, be sure to tighten their lids so that they do not let the air inside during each opening and closing action. Considering that many food odors are circulated during the day, especially in kitchen environments, the taste of honey stored in an air-permeable container may also be affected by this weather. In addition, the consistency and taste of honey can be damaged by the absorption of moisture from the air. For this reason, it is very important not to let air into the containers where honey is stored.
In Which Environments Does Honey Not Spoil?
The rules that are valid and important for many types of honey are, as outlined above. To summarize, the environments where honey will not spoil and maintain its flavor & consistency for long periods are dry, cool, dark and not subject to sudden temperature changes. As long as attention is paid to these environments and the tricks described above, genuine honey can have years of shelf life.
In addition, it is also possible to store honey in a deep freeze as a long-term storage method for those who want to guarantee the job even more and keep the honey for much longer years. However, if you have received honey and the amount of this honey is not more than enough to manage you for years, using honey with short-term storage methods to get its contributions such as minerals, vitamins, and protein will be more useful. Therefore, the methods described above are more detailed for people who consume honey daily or every few days, ie for short-term use.
Other Foods That Don’t Have a Use by Date Along With Honey
Consumption of expired products carries a risk. However, even after many years, there are some foods that you don’t have to worry about because they are safe to eat. An important consideration when buying food is the use-by date (expiration date). When shopping, we should pay attention to this information on the packaging and do not buy products whose expiry date is too close or past. However, the only important thing is not this date, how the food is stored under which conditions are also very important.
Regardless, you still pay attention to the expiration date, and I explain 9 food products that will last forever and will not deteriorate when stored under appropriate conditions:
The best temperature for rice storage is 4.5 ° C or lower. Rice can be stored in glass jars for up to 30 years and does not lose its aroma or nutritional value.
- Milk powder
Milk powder processed according to all appropriate health standards can be stored for a long time without falling nutritional value However it must be sealed with an airtight container and lid.
- Soy Sauce
Soy sauce can be safely stored for at least 3 years even if the bottle is opened. The shelf life of soy milk in an airtight container can be much longer. However, this time depends on conditions such as soy sauce type, processing, quality, and storage temperature.
- Maple syrup
According to the Massachusetts Maple Manufacturers Association, an unopened bottle of maple syrup can be stored indefinitely. And even after opening, you can use it for several years if you keep it in the refrigerator.
- Dried kidney beans
Research at Brigham Young University shows that dried kidney beans can be stored for 30 years.
The actual rock salt has no expiration date. However, this situation is not the same as iodine salts. Because iodine evaporates and salt loses its property over time.
White vinegar is another product that does not exceed its expiration date, but you should still be sure to keep it in proper conditions. You should cover the white vinegar with an airtight cap and keep it in a dark place.
Like salt, sugar lasts indefinitely for a long time, especially if you store it in an airtight container. However, even if sugar absorbs air from water and becomes solid rock, it does not lose its quality. Meanwhile, powdered sugar and brown sugar can also be stored for a long time.
Foods That Do Not Spoil for a Long Time
- Raw meat and chicken
Raw meat and chicken can not last more than a few days in the refrigerator. However, you can store your meat for a long time if you freeze. Frozen ground beef lasts from 3 to 4 months, while a whole chicken or turkey lasts almost 1 year. Because bacteria that cause food poisoning cannot grow in the cold. However, let us warn that the meat waiting in the frozen state for a long time will lose its flavor.
- Raw fish
Fish, like meat and chicken, can last as long as 6 to 9 months when frozen. Smoked fish lasts 3 to 6 months in the freezer. The fish you buy in frozen form can last 10-12 months if not thawed. Canned tuna can last 2 to 5 years after the last consumption date if the lid is not opened.
- Breakfast cereal
Breakfast cereals can be consumed for 6 to 8 months after the date on the box unless packages are opened. Unpacked breakfast cereal remains fresh for 4 to 6 months. Breakfast, such as cooked porridge, can last 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
If you buy green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce, we recommend that you consume the date on them soon. However, if you cannot do this and your greens have started to soften, soak them for 5 to 10 minutes in ice water, which will revitalize the vegetables.
- Dry pasta
Experts say that unpacked dry pasta can be eaten safely within 2 years of its last consumption date. However, if you buy fresh pasta, try to consume within 5 days after the last consumption date. If you do not eat immediately, remove fresh pasta to the freezer. In this case, you can safely consume 6 to 8 months. Cooked pasta can last 7 days in the refrigerator and 6 to 8 months in the freezer.
- Frozen vegetables and fruits
Frozen vegetables and fruits may be consumed for an additional 8 to 10 months from the date on which they are written on the packaging unless they are opened.
You can store your pickles in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 years. But keep in mind that they will begin to soften during this time.
Yogurt can be consumed for 1-2 weeks after the expiry date if the lid is not opened and stored in the refrigerator. Yogurt ice creams remain fresh for up to 2 months.
Especially hard cheeses can withstand after their last consumption. To see if the cheese is spoiled, you should look at its appearance and smell instead of the packaging. Even if the cheese is moldy, it can be consumed by cutting and discarding the moldy part. But make sure that the mold remains at a certain point and not spread into the cheese like a net.
It can be consumed within 5-6 days after the date on the milk bottle. However, the length of this period depends on the amount of fat in the milk. Skimmed milk can last for 7 to 10 days, while for whole milk it is 5 to 7 days. When milk spoils, it lumps and smells sour. Vegetable sourced milk can last up to 1 month after the expiry date if not opened.
Honey Products Having No Use By Date That You Can Buy Online
- Nature Nate’S 100% Pure Raw & Unfiltered California Honey; 16-oz. Squeeze Bottle; Certified Gluten-Free & OU Kosher Certified; Made By California Bees, Enjoy Honey’S Balanced Flavors & Goodness (Price: $6.33)
- Kiva Raw Manuka Honey, Certified UMF 15+ (MGO 514+) – New Zealand (8.8 oz) (Price: $39.99)
- BEEKEEPER’S NATURALS Wildflower Honey – Raw, Wildcrafted, and Unprocessed- Rich in Nutrients and Beneficial Enzymes – Notes of Mint & Lavender-100% Raw, Pure Honey – Paleo-friendly, Gluten-Free (1lb) (Price: $15.99)
- Chestnut Monofloral Raw Honey (10.5 Ounce); Natural Wildflower Honey from Rep. of Georgia – Unheated & Unfiltered – Contains Natural Enzymes, Pollen & Propolis – by Mira Nova (Price: $15.95)
- Honest Raw Honey, Pure Natural American Honey, 22 Ounce (Price: $13.99)