Agave syrup, sometimes called agave nectar, is a popular natural sweetener used in place of sugar or honey. It’s extracted from the agave plant, which is native to Mexico and the southwestern United States. Many people wonder if agave syrup expires and how long it lasts once opened. Here’s a quick look at the shelf life and expiration date of agave syrup.
Does agave syrup go bad?
Yes, agave syrup can go bad eventually. Like most foods, agave syrup has a shelf life and will expire after a certain period of time. How long agave syrup lasts depends on how it’s made and stored.
How long does unopened agave syrup last?
An unopened bottle of agave syrup will typically last 12-18 months past the production date or best by date if stored properly. The shelf life of unopened agave syrup is influenced by:
- Type of agave syrup – dark, light, organic, raw, etc.
- Ingredients – some brands may add preservatives
- Storage method – pantry, fridge, freezer
- Packaging – airtight bottles vs thin plastic containers
Higher quality organic raw agave syrup may have a shorter shelf life around 12 months. Standard commercial brands with preservatives can last 18 months or longer unopened.
How long does opened agave syrup last?
Once opened, agave syrup will last 3-6 months in the pantry or 6-12 months in the refrigerator. Again, the shelf life depends largely on the ingredients and type of agave syrup.
To maximize freshness, store opened agave syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. Look for a use by date on the bottle and aim to finish it up by that time. If mold growth, fermentation, or other signs of spoilage appear, it’s best to throw out the agave syrup.
How to tell if agave syrup has gone bad
Agave syrup can grow mold or ferment past its prime. Here are some signs your agave syrup has expired and is no longer safe to consume:
- Mold – May appear soft and fuzzy or dry and powdery
- Fermentation – Bubbles, fizzing, alcoholic smell
- Darkening color – Typically becomes darker
- Thick texture – Turns thick like honey or crystallized
- Sour smell or taste
- Changes in consistency
If your agave syrup exhibits any of those signs, it’s best to throw it away. Rancid or moldy agave syrup can make you sick.
What happens if you eat expired agave syrup?
Consuming expired agave syrup puts you at risk for foodborne illness. Mold and bacteria can grow over time, especially if the syrup has been contaminated after opening. Botulism spores are also a concern in low-acid foods like agave syrup if stored improperly.
If you ingest spoiled agave syrup, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, botulism poisoning can cause paralysis, breathing difficulty, and even death. Don’t take chances with expired agave products.
How to store agave syrup properly
To get the most shelf life out of your agave syrup, store it properly:
- Unopened: Store in a cool, dry pantry away from direct sunlight. Avoid temperature fluctuations.
- Opened: Refrigerate in an airtight container. Keep away from moisture and contaminants.
- Avoid extreme heat or cold. High temperatures speed up spoilage.
- Never store agave syrup at room temperature after opening. Refrigerate immediately.
- Keep the lid tightly sealed when not in use.
- Do not store in the freezer, as agave syrup can crystallize.
- Discard if you see any mold, even if most of the bottle is still usable.
Also, check the production or best by date on the bottle and be sure to use the agave syrup by that time.
Can agave syrup be frozen?
Freezing is not recommended for agave syrup. The low temperatures can cause the sugars to crystallize and separate. Thawing will result in a grainy, hardened texture.
Can you refrigerate agave syrup?
Yes, refrigeration can effectively extend the shelf life of opened agave syrup. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 6-12 months.
Does agave syrup need to be refrigerated after opening?
It’s highly recommended to refrigerate agave syrup after opening to maximize freshness. Leaving it at room temperature significantly reduces the shelf life down to 3-6 months.
Can expired agave syrup make you sick?
Yes, consuming expired agave syrup can potentially make you sick. Mold, fermentation, and bacterial growth can occur over time, especially if contaminated after opening. Botulism is also a risk in expired agave products.
Can you use agave syrup past the expiration date?
It’s not recommended to use agave syrup past the printed expiration or best by date on the bottle. Although it may still be safe to consume right after the date, quality and flavor will decline. If any signs of spoilage like mold appear, it should be discarded immediately.
Does agave nectar go bad if not refrigerated?
If left unrefrigerated after opening, agave nectar can go bad much quicker. Refrigeration is the best way to extend the shelf life to 6-12 months. Without refrigeration, an opened bottle only lasts 3-6 months.
The shelf life of agave syrup
When properly stored, these are the typical shelf life expectations for agave syrup:
|Agave syrup type
|Unopened shelf life
|Opened shelf life (refrigerated)
|Standard commercial agave
|Opened agave (pantry)
Always store agave nectar in an airtight container in the refrigerator after opening. Check for any signs of mold or spoilage before use. Discard if it smells or tastes unpleasant.
Can you freeze agave syrup?
Freezing agave syrup is not recommended. The freezing process can cause the natural sugars in agave nectar to crystallize, leading to a grainy, hardened texture when thawed. Refrigeration is a better method for long-term storage after opening.
If agave syrup has accidentally been left in the freezer for a short time, it may still be usable if the crystallization is minimal. Try gently heating it to dissolve any separated sugars. However, significant crystallization will permanently alter the texture.
Never refreeze agave syrup after thawing. The changes from the initial freezing will have already affected the quality and texture. Also avoid extreme temperature fluctuations in general, as this can speed up the natural crystallization process over time.
For optimal shelf life, keep unopened agave syrup in a cool, dry pantry. Then refrigerate opened bottles in an airtight container. Following proper storage methods can extend the shelf life significantly.
Ways to use up agave syrup before it expires
If you have a bottle of agave syrup nearing its expiration date, here are some great ways to use it up:
Substitute agave for sugar in your favorite baking recipes for cookies, cakes, muffins, breads, and more.
Glazes and sauces
Whisk together agave, spices, and vinegar or citrus juice for sweet and tangy meat or vegetable glazes.
Add agave to smoothies for natural sweetness instead of honey or sugar.
Tea or coffee sweetener
Stir agave into hot or iced tea, coffee, or lemonade for a subtle sweetness.
Layer yogurt, fresh fruit, and agave nectar for a delicious parfait.
Mix oats with milk, nuts, fruit, and agave. Refrigerate overnight for sweet breakfast oats.
Make chewy granola bars with oats, nuts, dried fruit, and agave as a natural binding syrup.
Whisk up tangy vinaigrettes using agave as the sweetener instead of honey or sugar.
With a bit of creativity, you can easily use up any leftover agave syrup before it expires. The light, neutral flavor works great in both sweet and savory recipes.
Agave syrup does have an expiration date and can eventually go bad without proper storage. An unopened bottle will last 12-18 months, while opened agave syrup keeps for 3-12 months depending on refrigeration. Keep it in an airtight container and check for signs of mold, fermentation, or texture changes before using expired agave. Discard if it has an off smell or appearance. Following the printed expiration dates and refrigerating after opening can help extend the shelf life significantly.