Food & Nutrition

How to Store Honey-Long term, After Opening, Storage Containers Refrigeration Temperatures

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Knowing how to store honey for long term or short term before or after opening is an important if you want to most of its benefits. In this piece find how to go about storing different types of honey, after opening, storage containers, refrigeration/freezing temperatures and how to keep ant away from stored honey

How to store Honey long term

Honey can be stored for use at a later date. It can stay for long without getting spoiled. Honey gets spoilt only when there is something foreign in it. This is as explained by Amina Harris an executive director of honey and pollination center. [1]

how store honey long short term storage containers and refrigeration temperatures

Stored Honey

When honey is kept for a long time, it experiences some changes. The changes include;

  • Solidification and crystallization as time goes by. These are processes that take place naturally between the third and the sixth week after opening the honey jar. This is one way to confirm that you have natural honey.
  • Change of color and eventually flavor. In less than a year, you may realize that honey gets darker. This explains why you must devise ways of storing honey if you need to use it for a longer period of time.

You need to store your honey well and before deciding on how to store your honey, you must understand which type of honey you are dealing with. How and where you store honey is very important as it affects its quality and taste. Different types of honey are stored under different conditions. The discussion below shows types of honey and how you would store:

Comb honey.

This is honey stored by bees in the combs. It is honey filled beeswax combs. Comb honey that is placed in a jar of liquid honey is referred to as chunk honey. This honey is hard to store for long term use since it is kept at its best condition by the bees themselves.

Liquid honey.

This is honey extracted from honey caps or cells by centrifugal force. It is processed honey. Processing is done by cutting off the caps and taking them for extraction.

For long term use, liquid honey should be stored in a cool and dry area with temperature of about 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that you avoid sunlight.

The container in which it is stored should be lidded tightly to prevent any moisture absorption. With time, you may realize that liquid honey crystallizes but that is nothing to worry about since honey can be put back to its liquid state.

Granulated honey.

It is also referred to as creamed honey, dehydrated honey or dried honey and is prepared by mixing 9 parts of liquid honey and one part crystallized honey. The mixture is then stored under temperatures of 57 degrees to ensure firmness.

This type of honey is easier to store as compared to standard honey. It is advisable to store honey under temperatures of less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also ensure that it is stored below 70% humidity. This maximizes the life of the product.

Storing raw honey before opening it

Unprocessed or raw honey is basically honey that has not been treated or heated in any way. Most people prefer untreated honey because of its high nutritional value. Raw honey may contain some bits of honey comb. This depends on whether or not filtering was done prior to bottling.

Raw honey has an advantage over other types of honey since it does not go bad easily. Its storage differs from that of processed honey since it contains no preservatives.  Even that, users of raw honey must know the proper ways of storing honey to retain its texture, flavor and general quality. The safest way is to store honey in jars at room temperature.

National Honey Board explains that raw honey does not contain any preservatives so its storage is different from processed honey.

Packaging of raw honey should be done in an airtight container. Proper lidding of the container is done so as to keep the raw honey preserved.

Apart from that, raw honey should be stored away from sunlight. Advisably, it should be placed in your kitchen cabinet or pantry.  In addition to that, raw honey should be put in a cool environment. Ensure you keep honey away from any heat producing appliances.

A freezer for long term honey storage

A better way to store your honey for a long time is by freezing. When honey is kept for a long time, it may crystallize and if you do not desire crystallized honey; putting it back to the liquid state may be a real hustle.

Using a freezer prevents occurrence of unwanted changes and this makes it possible for you to store the honey for a couple of years in the desirable state.  The following procedure is useful when you decide to refrigerate your honey;

Choose a container for the honey

The container you select depends on the amount of honey you wish to store. Most people prefer ice tray for freezing their honey since this allows you to thaw out a cube at a time. Since honey expands upon freezing, you should must ensure that there is some space left in the container in which you store your honey

Place your honey in the freezer

When you have your honey in the right container and leaving the required space before lidding, you can now put the container in the fridge. The freezer allows you to store the honey for as long as want without distorting anything.

Thaw out honey

Storing honey may not mean that you do not want to use it at all. At times, you may decide to use part of the honey. All you need is to place the honey in an airtight container allowing it to gradually thaw at room temperature. You are advised not to speed up the honey thawing process.

The reason you should not thaw out honey while it is still in the fridge is that, doing so encourages crystallization. The freezer way of storing honey allows you to not only enjoy honey for a long time but to also retain its flavors.

How to store raw honey after opening

If you use part of your honey and you still wish to store it longer, you must ensure that you store it back to a tightly sealed container.

storing honey after opening

Opened honey container

To store back your raw honey, the procedure below should be followed;

  1. Using a slightly dampened cloth which is properly cleaned, wipe the rim of the jar to get rid of any honey remains after taking away the desired amount
  2. To ensure a tight seal, remove the residues from the jar threads
  3. Cover the jar with the lid by screwing it tightly
  4. Check if there are any possible leaks by turning the jar upside down. If there are any leakages, transfer the honey to an airtight container. Any leakages will cause contamination to the rest of the honey
  5. Put the honey filled jar in a dark pantry or a room with temperatures of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit or rather at room temperature. Areas where temperatures are likely to fluctuate should be avoided. [2]

Do you refrigerate honey after opening?

Depending on whether you want crystallized honey or honey that has not crystallized determines whether you should store your honey in the fridge or not. If you store honey in the refrigerator after opening it, the process of crystallization is accelerated.

In the case of raw honey, you are only required to store the honey from direct sunlight. You are also advised to ensure that after use, you store back the honey at an average humidity of 65% or less. In conclusion, you do not need to store it in the fridge. Storing it at room temperatures in your kitchen shelf is very okay.

Honey storage containers

honey storage containers or jars

honey storage containers

Choosing the best containers to re-pack honey is very crucial. Research indicates that, there is loss of moisture when honey is stored in low density polyethylene. This could lead to crystallization and oxidation as well. Honey storage containers include the following;

Pickl-it

It is one of the best long-term honey storage containers. It has a seal that prevents oxygen or moisture from finding their way into the honey. When oxygen gets into honey, oxidation of important nutrients occurs and hence there is oxygen toxicity. Moisture on the other hand leads to fermentation.

Glass canning jars

Most of these jars have a wide opening and this makes jars one of the best. Most people explain that these jars can also be used as gifts. They are preferred for short term storage of honey.

Repurposed glass jars

There are glass jars that can be reused. Such glass jars only need to be cleaned properly then used as honey containers.

Plastic food grade buckets

Long term honey is best stored in 2-gallon containers.  When 5-gallon containers are used for long term storage of honey they may lead to crystallization.

Plastic containers

These containers are great for use to store honey for a long period. Even that, you must be careful since too much pressure may cause the lid to pop out causing a big mess.

Honey storage temperature

How temperatures affect honey storage

Temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius

Temperatures that are too low cause honey to freeze. Frozen honey neither loses its nutrients nor does it crystallize. When you wish to store your honey without having it crystallize, refrigeration is the best method. However, not that some types of honey may crystallize even at low temperatures.

Temperatures between 50 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit

When you wish to create crystallized or creamed honey, this is the right temperature at which you can do that. It is referred to as the super fine crystallization temperature.

Above 60°F but below 70°F

At this temperature, crystallization of honey is slowed down.

Over 70°F

At this temperature honey forms very large crystals. Such huge crystals can easily be turned

Into liquid state using the technique of a warm water bath. If you wish to crystallize honey but not into fine or small crystals, you should adjust the temperature to 70°F

Over 90°F

When honey is stored under this temperatures for a long period of time, it moves away from the extremely large crystals to liquid form. At such high temperatures, honey color changes from golden to dark brown. Keeping your honey consistently at this high temperature impairs nutrients.[3]

How to keep ants away from honey in store

Ants are usually attracted to any food that has moisture. When honey is in its pure state, it contains less than 20% moisture and this means that such honey does not attract ants. Even that, with time honey draws moisture from the environment to its outer layer and this exposes it to the danger of being attacked by ants.

This means that different types of honey attract moisture at different stages depending on how much moisture is in the honey.  Good news is, you can prevent ants from getting into your honey. The following measures will be helpful;

Ensure the jar lid is closed tightly

At any time when you use your honey, remember to keep the lid completely closed. Not unless ants got into your honey during processing and packaging, if you close your lid well, your honey will be safe from ants.

Wipe the jar after using them

When you use honey, it easily escapes onto the sides of the jar.  Any honey that remains exposed attracts ants and therefore, you must ensure you clean up the jar.

Catch ants using a moat

This is easy to do as it requires you to fill a saucer or dish with water then put your honey container in it. This is easy to do since ants cannot transverse through water.

Wipe your kitchen surface or your honey storage area with vinegar

Vinegar keeps away ants when used for cleaning surfaces. Use a mixture of water and vinegar at the ration of 1:1. You can spray the kitchen areas or places where your honey is stored using the mixture or you could use a paper towel to wipe such areas.

Kill ants as soon as you see them

It is very important to kill ants as soon as they appear. This is however applicable only in cases where the size of invasion is small. It serves as a temporary measure to fix your situation.[4]

Sources

[1] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-science-behind-honeys-eternal-shelf-life-1218690/

[2] https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-store-raw-honey-after-it-is-opened/

[3] http://www.pickl-it.com/blog/481/honey-storage-tips/

[4] http://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Ants-out-of-Hone

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