Has raw honey expired or spoiled?
Can honey go bad?
In 2004, during the construction of an oil pipeline in South Georgia, a grave from the Bronze Age was discovered and clay pots with mysterious contents were discovered. Archaeobotanists identify the mysterious burial object - or rather what was left of it - as 5000 year old honey. From acacia to forest honey. Nobody (allegedly) tried it: The food that we steal from the bees cannot be kept forever without consequences.
But how long can honey be kept? It depends, say all experts who are concerned with the question "How do you store honey properly?" have been busy. It is clear that heat, moisture and light affect the quality of the honey and reduce its shelf life. Conversely, this means: cool (ideally 15 degrees Celsius), dry (ideally less than 55 percent relative humidity) and dark storage, honey can be stored for years without any significant loss of quality. With increasing age, however, bioactive ingredients break down and honey loses its pharmaceutical effect. But that doesn't affect the taste.
What makes honey so amazingly long-lasting?
It is its composition. Above all, the high sugar content has a preservative effect, as the sugar molecules bind the honey's own water: without free water, microorganisms cannot survive. Certain ingredients in honey also ensure that it does not spoil: acids and enzymes inhibit the growth and viability of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms. Even mold doesn't stand a chance.
With all antibiotic starches, honey also has weaknesses. For example that for water: honey draws moisture from the air, it is "hygroscopic". If the honey is left open on the breakfast table for a longer period of time, its contents will most likely change. And not only because someone has made use of the honey, but also because the honey has made use of moisture.
Does honey go bad?
The increasing water content is particularly beneficial for yeast cells, which are found everywhere and also in honey. Yeast cells are frugal. Water and sugar are all they need to live. They break down the latter into carbon dioxide and alcohol, a process called fermentation. Unadulterated honey contains relatively little water, usually less than 18 percent. If the water content of the honey increases, the risk from willing yeasts increases, and the honey ferments from around 20 percent water content. Incidentally, fermenting honey smells and tastes particularly fruity at the beginning, later sour or even really "fermented". You can also see that: Small bubbles have formed on the surface, a result of the fermentation product carbon dioxide that escapes from the honey. The lid of the honey container also begins to bulge due to the gas formed, provided it is tight. With stronger fermentation even foam develops, often on the edge of the honey jar. Fermented honey is not necessarily inedible, it can still be used for sweetening and baking or to make honey wine or mead. If you protect honey from humidity by keeping it tightly closed in a dry place, you also protect its taste at the same time. Because honey quickly takes on foreign odors due to its water-absorbing properties.
Store in the refrigerator?
In addition to water, the temperature affects the shelf life of the honey. The sweet food is sensitive to heat. If the honey is heated too high or for a long time, important ingredients of honey lose their effect, change, are destroyed or evaporate. Vitamins, enzymes and carbohydrates suffer from temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. The aromas of the honey get on the collar even at slightly lower temperatures. Every warming above 35 degrees Celsius reduces the aroma of a honey, say beekeepers.
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