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What is the best way to store honey?

Fresh honey in a glass jar

Honey is a very healthy and tasty product that people have been consuming since ancient times. The first image of honey extraction by ancient people, which is 8,000 years old, is found in the Cuevas de la Araña, or Spider Caves in Valencia, Spain. Obviously, at that time, extracting honey was not an easy task and required a lot of preparation and courage. People had to climb onto rocks or trees where bees’ nests were located and remove the honeycomb from the nest without any protective clothing. The bees were obviously not happy about it, so I think it was not without bee stings.

Nowadays everything has become much easier, and to get honey you don’t need to climb rocks or trees, but just buy honey in a shop or at a farmer’s market. But the question of storing honey remains relevant, and we will try to understand in what conditions and in what container is best to store honey, so that this wonderful, natural food product for a long time pleased you with its flavour and brought benefits.

Honey storage conditions

Humidity

Honey is a hygroscopic product and has the ability to absorb moisture from the outside environment.  Therefore, honey should not be stored in a humid place, as it will absorb moisture and its excess will cause it to ferment and spoil. Therefore, it is necessary to tightly close the lid of the container where the honey is stored and avoid humidity in the place of storage.

Sunlight

Direct sunlight destroys the antimicrobial properties, namely the enzyme inhibin, a natural preservative that prevents spoilage of the product. Therefore, you should avoid sunlight and store honey in a dark place.

Smell

Honey absorbs odours very well. It is not recommended to store honey near sources of strong odours such as petrol, paraffin, paints, salted fish, onions and garlic.

Temperature

The optimum temperature for storing honey is between -5 and +20 °C. Heating is more dangerous for honey than cooling. Heating above 40°C leads to the formation of oxymethylfurfural. This is a contaminant that is formed when water splits from fructose and other sugars. It is practically absent in fresh product, but in heated honey it is present to a significant extent. By the way, the oxymethylfurfural test allows you to determine whether the honey has been overheated. If you put honey in a cold place with a temperature below zero, it crystallises very quickly and becomes very hard, but it does not lose its useful properties.

Thus, it is best to store honey in a dry, cool place, protected from direct sunlight and tightly covered with a lid against outside odours.

Honey storage containers

Glassware

This is the best option for storing honey. Because honey is a biologically active product, but with glass it does not react in any way. It is important only to close with a tight lid to prevent moisture and third-party odours. It is also important to keep out of sunlight, which glass will not protect against for obvious reasons.

Raw honey in a glass jar
One of the best options for storing honey is a glass jar.

Ceramic ware

Stoneware is a good container for storing honey. It is impervious to sunlight, moisture and maintains a constant temperature.

Ceramic dish for storing honey
Ceramics are a good option for honey storage.

Wooden containers

Wooden containers are also suitable for storing honey. It is important that the humidity of a wooden container does not exceed 16-20%. It is better to treat the inside with wax. Otherwise, the wood will absorb moisture from the honey and may change its lavor. The best suited are linden, willow, birch, beech. But dishes made of oak for storing honey is not suitable, because it can change the colour of honey, which will absorb tannins. Coniferous woods are also unsuitable, as they will transfer their odour and resins to the honey.

Wooden barrel for honey storage
Wood is a good option for storing honey.

Food-grade plastic

Plastic for utensils must necessarily be food-grade. Such plastics are labelled PEHD (polyethylene high density polyethylene) with the number 2 in the triangle, or PP (polypropylene) with the number 5 in the triangle.

Plastic jar of honey
Food-grade plastic is suitable for storing honey.

Stainless steel, aluminium

It is possible to store honey in metal dishes made of stainless steel or aluminium. Without damage to the surface. It is recommended not to store honey in such dishes for a long time, because in case of long storage the honey may react.

Iron, zinc-coated, tin, copper, lead utensils

It is strictly forbidden to keep honey in contact with iron, zinced, tin, copper, lead utensils or their alloys, as honey will enter into a chemical reaction with them and poisonous substances will be formed.

How to store honey in honeycomb

The storage of honeycomb honey is almost the same as storing regular liquid honey.

– Avoid humidity, as honey is hygroscopic. Although the honeycomb caps protect it, excessive moisture can still spoil the honeycomb honey.

– Avoid direct sunlight. This will cause the honey to lose all of its beneficial properties.

– Do not store honeycomb honey near products that emit a strong odour: petrol, paraffin, paints, salted fish, onions, garlic.

– Store honey in honeycomb at temperatures from -5 to +20 °C. Do not allow heating above 40 ° C. This will lead to the loss of all the useful qualities of honey and the release of oxymethylfurfural.

A full frame of honeycomb honey
The storage conditions for honeycomb honey are the same as for liquid honey.

How long is the shelf life of honey

Usually, manufacturers state that honey has a shelf life of 1 to 2 years if the storage rules are followed. But in fact, if you keep honey well covered, in a dry, cool, dark place in the right container, it can be stored for many years. For example, the oldest honey on earth found near the village of Sakire in the Borjomi region is 5,500 years old.

Infographic of the best way to store honey
It is best to store honey in a cool, dry, odourless place in glass, ceramic, wooden, plastic dishes.

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