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Nov 17, 2005 03:55 AM

Does Honey go bad?

  • m

I was cleaning out my cupboards and found some honey a friend bought for me in Portugal 5 years ago. It is in a hand-painted ceramic jar, sealed with wax, and has never been opened. Is the honey inside still safe to eat? If not, I'll just keep it sealed and use it as a decorative element since the jar is so pretty.

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  1. The only thing that happens when it's old is sometimes it crystallizes, but if you warm it in the microwave it becomes liquid again.

    1. Honey can keep for millennia...literally (they've tasted some from mummy tombs).

      9 Replies
            1. re: Karl S

              I think it has been established that 5 year old honey is fine to eat ... now onto 5000 year old honey.

              You would make a great parent/boss, since you are able to give an answer that might satisfy most people ... and then there is me.

              First, of all, did you try this mummy honey? Is it avaliable for sale online?

              Second, I'll bet no one ever really ate the honey and only put it through some sort of chemical analysis. How nuts do you have to be to eat honey that's been sitting next to a dead person for that long.

              Searching around on the web for a mention of anyone who actually ate the honey, I couldn't find one. However, I never got that connectiontion before for using mummies in advertising breakfast cereals like honey bunches of oats. Hmmm, maybe we've ALL been eating 5000 year old honey. That would explain some of those cereals.

              Then again, perhaps people did actually eat the honey because I found out that people ate ground up mummies for medicinal purposes at one time. Link below, but a warning that it is, well, yucky to put it midly. This source is from a magazine that discusses "strange phenomena", but searching around there were more credible sources to back this up. Unfortunately those sources were even more hair raising.

              Anyway, enjoy the 5 year old honey which will outsurvive you if you don't.


              1. re: rworange

                Not yuckier than the ancient Roman practice of saving the cleansing scrapings from (living) bodies in the baths and elsewhere to consume. (Slave scrapes dirty sweat off patrician bodie; throws against floor edge; later collects it as a flavoring and medicinal delicacy).

                1. re: rworange

                  Btw, the reason I remember that someone tasted it is because I was stunned they were allowed to.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    I'm not surprised -- all the chemical analysis in the world is no substitute for the human tongue. Tests can tell you what's in it, but not what it tastes like, and no study of the honey would be complete without someone being able to describe the taste.

          1. Honey doesn't go bad, or lose it's taste, or detiorate. It may crystalize after opening if some of the water evaporates. Honey is a natural preservative and antibiotic. It used to be put on wounds under bandages to help prevent infection and promote faster healing. I tasted a jar of noey that was from the late 1800's and it tasted fine. Actually great, better than any commercial honey today.

            1. j
              Janet from Richmond

              Honey never goes bad. It was a Jeopardy question years ago as the answer to the one food product that never spoils.

              1. Actually, honey can go bad, in a sense - it can ferment if the moisture content is too high.

                Most commercial honey producers carefully monitor the water content of their honey, so it's rare for store-bought honey to ferment. But if the honey is highly crystalized, or if it contains fruit or nuts, it might become fermented. If so, it will be obvious from the appearance or smell.

                And honey from backyard hives might be more likely to ferment. I got some honey from a friend's bees last year. It was delicious, but very runny, before it got white bubbles/froth on the top and started to smell kinda like beer... But I can't bear to throw it away!

                So, my question: Is it safe to eat fermented honey?

                - Anne the would-be beekeeper (it's illegal in Mpls)

                1 Reply
                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  It's called "mead"... :)

                  Actually, most mead recipes nowadays are more like hard lemonade with fermented honey providing the alcohol, as well as some nice flavor. And no, it's not gonna hurt you: fermentation is one of the main natural processes used as a food-preservation strategy - grapes into wine, cabbage into sauerkraut, grain into beer. Whether it still tastes good is of course quite another matter...