If my honey has darkened, is it still safe to eat?

HoneyI stopped by my parent’s assisted living apartment on the way to work today. They were enjoying breakfast when I arrived, so I sat at the table and visited with them while they ate. I noticed that the honey packets in the center of the table had darkened and I was thinking about honey on my drive in to work today.

We often get calls when people discover their honey has darkened or crystallized. Improper storage of honey can cause this problem. Honey should be stored in a cool, dry area inside a tightly covered container. Over time the honey will darken and flavor will change but it will be safe to eat indefinitely. As it darkens, it may lose some flavor or become cloudy. As the honey becomes cloudy, you may even notice crystals in it. This will not make the honey unsafe as long as it has been stored properly. Honey stored in the refrigerator will crystallize more quickly.

If your honey has crystallized, you can place the container in warm water and stir the honey until the crystals dissolve. Resist the urge to use boiling hot water to melt crystals as this can damage the color and flavor of the honey. If your honey foams or smells like alcohol, discard it as it has spoiled.

Those darkened packets of honey at assisted living will be safe to eat for some time to come, but the dining room staff may want to look into another way to store their honey supply. This reminds me to go home and check my own jar of honey.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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52 thoughts on “If my honey has darkened, is it still safe to eat?

  1. Hello Liz,

    We have stored honey in 5 gallon plastic buckets for 40 years in a variety of temperature ranges in a garage.. We received it from someone else who had it for an undisclosed amount of time. I have checked it periodically. We decided to place it in new food grade plastic containers. It is dark and syrupy on the top and hard crystals below – some hard enough I used a clean chisel to break it up for transfer. It doesn’t smell like honey but don’t we detect a vinegar or alcohol order to it like you have mentioned in previous responses..What is your recommendation?

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