Honey Storage Tips

Honey does not go “bad” as many foods do; it remains wholesome after decades. -Eva Crane, “A Book of Honey”

Image Bee Raw, unfiltered honey is an amazing substance, naturally-resistant to microbial growth because of its low moisture content, low pH and antimicrobial composition.

While it is true that raw, unfiltered honey doesn’t go “bad” – it won’t mold – its complex flavor profile may be compromised if mishandled by fluctuating hot and cold temperatures. Cold increases crystallizing, while warm temperatures liquefy honey. If honey is exposed to constant back ‘n forth temperatures between warm and cold, honey’s texture, flavor and nutritional values will be slowly diminished.

Maintaining proper storage temperatures, using oxygen-blocking storage containers like the Pickl-It and controlling crystallization will keep your raw, unfiltered honey tasty for years to come.

The ancients stored raw, unfiltered honey in sealed pourous clay containers (and not in BPA-toxic, plastic honey-bears), stacked in cool-temperature caves. The gases created during crystallization, push the lighter-weight oxygen out through the porous clay.

Cool temperatures help speed crystallization, resulting in a finely granulated creamed honey that not only tastes great, but naturally-preserves the the honey’s nutritional value.

Select a Storage Method For Your Liquid, Raw, Unfiltered Honey

Storage containers and temperatures make the difference between creating rock-hard (large-crystal) honey that needs to be liquefied (which destroys enzymes, color, and vitamins, and increases undesirable HMF), or luscious, creamed honey (small crystal) that is stable and well-preserved.

Ways in Which Temperatures Affect Honey:

  • Freezing – Liquid high-glucose honey that is frozen, will never crystallize and never lose vital nutrients
  • Root cellar – 50-58° F is ideal storage for encouraging speedy, super-fine crystallization, creating creamed honey
  • Over 60° F, crystallization slows down
  • Over 70° F large crystals are formed, creating large honey “rocks” (can be liquefied using warm water-bath technique)
  • Long-term storage over 90° moves the crystals away from “rock”, towards liquid
  • The longer honey is stored at temperatures consistently in the upper-80s and above, honey becomes discolored, moving away from golden, towards dark brown. This is an indication that the nutrients have been impaired – still edible – but not as vital.
  • Honey that is heated, in order to liquefy it from a rock-crystal state, suffers the same dark-brown discoloration, and loss of vital nutrients.

Ways in Which Containers Affect Honey

Image Creamed Honey Leave it to we moderns and our plastics. Some research has shown that honey stored in low-density polyethylene loses moisture, resulting in crystallization, as well as negatively impacted by oxidation. (Assil, H.I. et al. 1991. Crystal Control in Processed Liquid Honey. Journal of Food Science 56(4):1034.)

Pickl-It is a great honey-storage container. First, its positive seal doesn’t allow oxygen back into the container where it can oxidize important nutrients (called oxygen toxicity), as well as carrying moisture into the honey, causing a more severe form of fermentation, moving the honey toward alcohol (Mead). (Jiménez, M. et al. 1994. Influence of the Storage Conditions on Some Physicochemical and Mycological Parameters of Honey. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture)

The photo on the left is our Pickl-It Creamed Honey recipe which is rich in flavor, color-stable, and has a smooth texture, protected from oxygen, and easily stored in a refrigerator or cold root cellar.

Storage Temperatures

Image Honey Bear The Cornell University Master Beekeeper program, primarily geared toward mass-market honey producers, recommends that honey should be pasteurized to control fermentation and crystallization of honey, “serious obstacles to successful marketing.” For those who object to pasteurization, Cornell responds,

“Honey stored at 77 °F for 40 days will incur as much damage as honey heated to 145 °F for 60 minutes.”

This doesn’t scream “pasteurization” to me. Instead? It communicates that we need to store our raw, unfiltered, healthy, living-nutrient honey at cooler temperatures.

I really like Sally Fallon’s views on this in her “Fermented Honey” article available at Weston Price

“Only careful and minimal processing will preserve the many nutritive benefits of honey. Honey should never be heated during extraction or the enzymes will be destroyed; nor should it be filtered. Honey should be thick and opaque. When it comes to honey, see-through is obscene.

According to the National Honey Board Research Program, Honey Shelf Life Fact Sheet

  • Crystallization of honey is most rapid at 52-59°F (11-15°C). This is ideal when you want to turn your raw, unfiltered honey into creamed honey.
  • The recommended storage temperature for unprocessed honey is below 50°F (10°C).
  • The ideal temperature for both unprocessed and processed honey is below 32°F (0°C).

Cooler temperatures best preserve the aroma, flavor and color of unprocessed honey.

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Other articles:

Creamed Honey Recipe
Choose Local Honey
Honey Storage Case Studies