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May 20, 2007 08:40 PM

Refrigerating honey--why?

I just bought some sourwood honey from a local produce stand. They don't keep their own bees, but they package local honey under their own name with their own label. On that label I noticed the instructions "refrigerate after opening." What on earth? Can anyone think of a good reason to do this? Everything I know about honey leads me to believe it should be stored at room temperature and never refrigerated unless you purposely want to speed the crystalization process. Any ideas?

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  1. Honey is possibly the most shelf stable food on the planet. Archaeologists found pots of honey in ancient Egyptian tombs, at least 3,000 years old, and it was still edible. Unless they doctor their honey with something, you're completely fine leaving it on the shelf. I think possibly every label that comes from wherever they're made includes the instruction regardless of the container's contents.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      I agree, although I didn't know about the Egyptian mummy honey until now - very interesting. I'm thinking the same about the label as well - possible legal issues might arise even at no fault of the producer/marketer. Imagine someone putting a tainted spoon (with who knows what on it) into the jar of honey - it spoils from pathogens - neglectful eater gets sick and seeks lawyer and then the law suit begins.

      I've been told for decades that honey can be used to treat minor cuts and scrapes. And I recently read somewhere in the news verifying this...

      1. re: bulavinaka

        Actually - honey is the only food that never spoils. Can't imagine why they'd suggest refrigerating it unless they were just doing it as a CYA policy.

        1. re: jmarton1977

          Exactly - CYA - but I'm imagining my son reaching into the honey pot with a spoon that he previously used to polish off his ice cream and who knows what else - totally out of the control of the honey seller, but you know how letigious people are nowadays, and it's usually a response by these folks themselves not owing up to being irresponsible in their actions/inactions in the first place...

    2. I don't think you can buy much of anything these days that does not have a label that says "Refrigerate after opening." That said, you definitely don't need to refrigerate honey, ever.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ellen

        I was of this mindset until this past weekend, when I came home to a kitchen full of ants swarming the cupboard. I'm always very careful to seal sweet stuff as this is problem that crops up at least once or twice / season, but darned if one of the little buggers didn't locate my jar of clover honey (with the lid screwed on tight) and call in about a billion reinforcements... Now the honey goes in the fridge. Argh.

        1. re: spyturtle008

          I've had that problem too (also w/sugar). Now I put the honey/maple syrup/sugar into ziplock bags, or additionally into another cannister. No problems since I started doing that.

      2. I think the previous posters have hit the nail on the head. Undisturbed honey will not spoil. However, honey that is aerated, stirred around (possibly with contaminated spoons), or exposed to significant temperature changes can spoil. If honey is taken out of the fridge, opened up, closed and allowed to remain at room temp, a thin layer of water may condense on the surface of the honey or on the sides of the container. Diluted honey makes a decent growth medium for bacteria and fuzzy microbes (most of which are probably non-pathogenic, but whatever--- nobody likes fuzzy honey).