How To Store Honey To Extend Its Shelf Life

How To Store Honey To Extend Its Shelf Life

Does honey expire? Learn how to store raw Manuka properly to maximize its lifetime medicinal potency and uniquely velvety texture as long as possible. Get science-backed tips for extending shelf life by optimizing humidity, temperature, and light exposure, and monitoring changes in consistency over time.

Key Takeaways

  • Honey does not spoil, but its antioxidant activity fades over time
  • Raw, unprocessed honey retains more benefits than filtered varieties
  • Ideal storage is in the pantry away from light/moisture at 68°F
  • Hardening is expected for raw honey; restore smoothness with gentle warming
  • Refrigeration thickens runny honey by lowering the temperature

How Storage Temperature and Light Exposure Affect Honey

Raw Manuka vs Processed Honey

Feature

Raw Manuka Honey

Processed Honey

Processing

Unpasteurized

Pasteurized

Heat Treatment

None

High-heat treatment

Texture

Changes over time, tend to harden

Uniform texture

Storage

Store at room temperature

Store in pantry

Nutrient Levels

Higher

Some loss during processing

 

Factor

Effect

Sunlight

Reduces antimicrobial potency

Heat

Speeds deterioration of nutrients

Moisture

Can cause fermentation

What is the best way to make sure your honey lasts as long as possible? 

The ideal conditions for maximizing honey's shelf life are darkness, low moisture, and a temperature around 68°F. Exposure to light and heat degrades honey's enzymatic activity over time.

Executive Summary: 

How To Extend the Shelf Life of Your Honey

The truth is that honey never truly expires. It may change in color or consistency over time, but it should be safe to enjoy unless exposed to moisture or sunlight. 

Yet, Manuka honey’s MGO, leptosperin, and prebiotic levels can naturally decline over time. These indicators used by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) determine not only your honey’s potency but also its authenticity.  

This testing process ensures that each Manukora Manuka honey batch has all the necessary levels of these active ingredients to produce the best results. So, what else should you know? How can you store your honey to extend its shelf life? In this article, we answer these questions and more.

How Long Does Manuka Honey Last?

As stated above, honey doesn’t expire. Yet, there is a reason why each Manuka honey product has an expiration date. As your honey sits on the shelf, its MGO levels will naturally and slowly decline. 

Methylglyoxal (MGO) is the nutrient that makes:

  • Manuka honey like no other. 
  • It offers antibacterial properties that support immune health, digestive health, and general wellness. 

However, you can expect your Manuka honey’s beneficial nutrients to maintain (or even increase) during its five-year shelf life. After five years, we cannot guarantee the same levels. But with this honey's thick, creamy taste, we don’t imagine it will take you five years to finish a jar! 

Even after your honey’s best-by date, you can still enjoy this sweet treat. The biggest difference is that it may not be as beneficially potent as when you first bought it.

Raw Manuka vs. Processed Honey

So, is there a difference between storing raw Manuka honey versus processed honey? 

When it comes to processed filtered honey, it is best to store it in the pantry. Since processed honey is heat-treated (pasteurized) and has a fairly uniform color and consistency, it will generally remain the same as when you bought it as long as it’s stored in fairly neutral conditions. 

While not having to heat or cool your honey before enjoying it may be preferable, the filtering and pasteurizing process can result in the loss of some of honey’s most beneficial nutrients that make raw honey the superfood it is. 

This is why at Manukora, we ensure all of our honey is natural, raw, and unpasteurized, helping to elevate the Manuka honey experience, one ethically kept batch of honey at a time. 

How Do I Store My Manuka Honey? 

While your honey should never spoil, that’s not to say there aren’t right and wrong ways to store your beloved nectar. Honey is generally very easy to store, but when it comes to Manuka honey, the storage protocol is slightly different than your average store-bought honey. 

Manukora’s Manuka honey is raw. Unlike other types of honey, our Manuka may change in consistency over time as it sits, with a tendency to harden (aka crystallize). Don't be alarmed if your honey contains tiny crystal-like molecules — it’s easy to soften hardened honey, and we even have an easy guide on how to do so here!

Do:

  • Keep out of direct sunlight: Similar to time’s effect on your honey’s beneficial nutrients, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can also reduce the potency of MGO’s antibacterial effects. Storing your Manuka honey in an area free of direct sunlight is crucial to maintaining its integrity.
  • Store in a dry environment: Honey does best when stored in a cool and dry environment. One of the only ways honey can spoil (or even ferment) is through exposure to moisture. The fermentation of honey occurs when microscopic yeast finds enough moisture to grow. 
    • Luckily at Manukora, we allow our bees plenty of time to naturally dehydrate their honey before we collect it. We don’t use high-heat processing to dehydrate our honey because our bees do a wonderful job of it on their own.
    • Fermentation is rarely an issue if your Manuka honey is stored in a dry environment. 
    • Store at approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit: Manuka honey has a sweet spot when it comes to ideal storage temperature — 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). If Manuka honey is stored below room temperature, you can expect its already natural thick texture to become even more viscous.

    Don’t: 

    • Store in a metal container: Usually, there’s no need to transport your honey from its original container to another. Yet, if you do, avoid storing it in metal as the honey's acids can promote oxidation.
    • Store in the freezer: Since Manuka honey is raw, the temperature of its environment can affect its consistency; this isn’t a bad thing and can be fixed with a simple warm water bath or some time in the fridge. 

    However, even if your Manuka is thin or runny, avoid storing it in the freezer. Manuka honey is unpasteurized, so when exposed to super low temperatures, it can become solid and will need some serious warming before you can enjoy it. 

    Storing this creamy, velvety nectar in the freezer won’t affect its potency like heating it will, but it can make it a hassle to get to when you’re in the mood to indulge.  

    Will Raw Manuka Honey Harden Over Time?

    Yes, you can expect your Manuka honey to change in color and consistency; it’s completely normal and inevitable when choosing raw honey varieties. The consistency of Manuka honey has much to do with its (minimal) production process and the type of honey it is. 

    That said, even though crystallization is often a sign of raw, high-antioxidant honey, that thickness can be an obstacle or even just an unwelcome texture for some. 

    So, how can you overcome this hurdle?

    How To Soften Hardened Honey

    If you’re craving a spoonful of Manuka honey, but it's rock solid, don’t fret; we’re here to get your honey back to its original creamy state. 

    • First, heat a small bowl of water, but don’t get the water too hot. Usually, about 45 seconds in the microwave for your standard one-person soup or cereal bowl offers plenty of heat.
    • Raw Manuka honey (and really, any raw honey) is ultra-sensitive to heat, and if it’s brought to a high temperature, it can essentially start to pasteurize and lose some of its beneficial nutrients. 
    • Loosen the lid and place your jar in the warm water bath, ensuring not get any of that water inside of the actual jar. 
    • Leave the jar in the warm water for around five to 10 minutes. 
    • After the first five minutes, you can give it a good stir — if it's reached your desired texture, then it's ready to enjoy! Otherwise, feel free to give it another five minutes in its bath.

    How Do I Harden Runny Manuka Honey? 

    Looking to enjoy your honey spread over toast or simply straight from the spoon? That can be hard if your once thick, creamy honey is a little runnier than you prefer. 

    It’s natural for raw honey to change consistency, and just because it's a little runnier today doesn’t mean it’ll never be thick and creamy again. Chances are it's just a little too toasty in your house, and your honey needs to cool off in the fridge. 

    Place your Manuka honey in the fridge overnight. It should regain that buttery texture in no time. 

    The Bottom Line

    As long as your raw Manuka honey is kept in a dry environment at room temperature away from direct sunlight, your honey should remain ready to eat for years to come (if it lasts that long!). 

    To ensure the longevity and quality of your Manuka honey, like the Manuka Honey 20+ MGO850, storing it properly is key. A cool, dry place away from sunlight, such as a pantry, is ideal. Even if you notice crystallization, a common occurrence in raw Manuka honey, it’s not a cause for concern.

    Looking for more tips and info on all things honey? Explore Manukora’s blog here

    Ready to try Manuka honey for yourself? Explore Manukora’s collection of Manuka honey varieties here.

    FAQs

    Is it safe to store Manuka honey in metal containers?

    No, you should avoid storing Manuka honey in metal containers. The honey's natural acids can cause oxidation when in contact with metal.

    If my Manuka honey has become too runny, how can I restore its thick consistency?

    If your Manuka honey becomes runny, you can place it in the refrigerator overnight. This should help it regain its thick, creamy texture.

    How does direct sunlight affect the storage of Manuka honey?

    Direct sunlight can reduce the potency of the beneficial nutrients in Manuka honey, particularly MGO's antibacterial effects. It's recommended to store Manuka honey away from direct sunlight to preserve its benefits.

    What is the ideal temperature for storing Manuka honey to maintain its consistency and potency?

    The sweet spot for storing Manuka honey is approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit (or 20 degrees Celsius). At this temperature, you can maintain the honey's natural thick texture and beneficial properties. 

    Sources: 

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