The Best Storage Techniques for Bulk Raw Honey
Have you just bought honey in bulk and you're worried about how long it can be stored? Or perhaps you've noticed some crystallisation happening on your stored honey and you're considering whether it is still good to eat. Fear not!
Honey rarely needs to be thrown out, being one of the longest lasting natural treats in the world. Even if your honey has begun to crystallise, we guarantee that it can be just as fresh, sweet, and sticky as the day you opened it with a few tweaks to your storage habits.
Let's talk raw honey...
Honey is our gift from the bees. Drawn from the nectar of flowers before being transported and processed by bees, honey is made up of essential vitamins, water, antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals including potassium, sulphur, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silica, manganese, copper, B6, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin - just to name a few! All these important elements combine to form the sticky, smooth, delicious liquid gold that we know and love.
Honey is a centuries-old treat that has been used to soothe, excite, and delight its consumers for generations. As a honey consumer, you may already be aware of the many benefits of raw honey. Although it is rare to see honey sitting on a shelf for long, it can last thousands of years with the right storage and handling. This is due to the level of pH (usually between 3.26 and 4.48) preventing the growth of bacteria. More so, the antibacterial nature of honey is great for your guts and immune system along with your metabolism and digestion, and it can help to keep any nasties from growing in your jar.
The creation of honeycomb, beeswax, and the honey itself is part of a carefully planned symphony performed by our buzzing friends. Naturally, the best storage for honey is beeswax, created by the bees to seal the honeycomb and store the raw honey away for when they need to access it in the cooler months.
In nature, the forager bees will create honey by mixing their harvested nectar with certain enzymes, chemicals, and pH, making it more suitable for long term storage. When the forager returns to the hive, the rest of the bees will dehydrate the honey and prepare it for storage in its honeycomb, carefully sealed with beeswax.
When the honey is harvested from the honeycomb and packaged for human enjoyment, it is up to the consumer to replicate this storage process as closely as possible to ensure this delicious superfood never goes to waste.
How to store honey for a lifetime of enjoyment...
Although raw honey is packed full of good stuff, it is no secret that it is primarily made up of sugars. Known as one of the most stable natural foods in the world, many conventional honey products will have a safeguard use by date of about 2 years, but properly stored raw honey can last much, much longer.
Just like the bees, we must consider temperature and moisture when planning honey storage. Honey can be stored in many forms, in fact, many beekeepers let the honey stay in the honeycomb sealed by beeswax until the last moment before packaging. However, you certainly don't need access to your own buzzing hive to maintain fresh raw honey.
3 Steps to Increase the Shelf Life of Your Bulk Honey
Avoid temperature fluctuations and store your honey as close to a consistent room temperature as possible. Never refrigerate your honey or store it next to the oven. The best temperature for honey is between 21 and 30 degrees Celsius.
This is reflective of the hive temperature, which is typically kept between 32 to 36 degrees Celsius thanks to the careful upkeep of the bees. When honey is stored within this range of temperatures, it will remain runny.
2. Storage location
When honey is exposed to excessive heat or sunlight it will darken in colour and lose its fresh scent and depth of flavour. Darkness will help to maintain the consistency and flavour of your honey; a kitchen pantry is a great option.
3. Pick the Right Honey Jar
There are lots of cute storage containers on the market, but the best way to store your honey is in a sealable, air-tight container that will keep it fresh.
While a Winnie the Pooh inspired ceramic jar will look adorable in your kitchen, it won’t be great for your honey. The container should be kept airtight and clean to prevent crystallisation (not enough water) or fermentation (too much water).
Try your best not to introduce any moisture or extra organic matter such as seasoning to your raw honey, it will lower the quality and consistency. Water is not honey’s friend – always store your honey in an airtight container and be careful not to introduce any contaminants into it.
Your jar should be airtight glass, HDPE plastic or stainless steel, never other metals, cheap plastic, non-sealable glass (or ceramic).
A note on crystallisation...
Even if you've followed every storage tip to the letter, you may be disappointed to find your honey has crystallised. Don't despair, even the most perfectly and carefully stored honey can be subject to this phenomenon. In fact, is a sign that you have genuine raw organic honey, so you can pat yourself on the back for choosing only the best.
Crystallisation is NOT a sign that your honey has deteriorated or is no longer edible, so make sure not to throw it away. A symptom of water evaporation or exposure or cold temperatures, you can cure crystallised honey by either letting it sit in natural light for a short period or by placing your sealed honey jar in some hot water until the crystals melt away. The risk of this method is that you may kill some of the nutrients within the honey by accidentally pasteurising it. If you can resist your honey for long enough, slow exposure to filtered sunlight will be the best way to keep all the good bits in while forcing the crystals out.
Honey is still considered 'raw' before it reaches a temperature of 48 degrees Celsius, which doesn't leave a lot of room for error in some of Australia's hottest climates. In removing the crystallisation from your honey, be sure to keep an eye on the heat of the day or how long you let it sit in water to avoid it from turning into processed honey with fewer nutrients and a less delicious mouthfeel.
Sweet & Simple Bulk Honey Storage
If you want to enjoy honey as nature intended - packed full of antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and immunity-boosting amino acids - proper storage is essential. By following the simple guidelines of considering temperature, location, and the container type - your honey will last for years to come (unless some sticky fingers find it first!)
By repurposing everything from the beeswax to the honeycomb, we make the most of every drop of honey out of respect for our bees and a genuine love for the work we do.