How do you store honey after opening it?

Quick Answers

Honey should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place after opening. It can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Honey has an indefinite shelf life and does not need to be refrigerated, but refrigeration will slow down the speed at which it crystallizes. Be sure to use clean, dry utensils each time you access honey to prevent contamination.

Can You Store Honey in the Fridge After Opening?

Yes, you can store honey in the fridge after opening it. Refrigeration is not strictly necessary for honey, but it will help slow down the crystallization process. The ideal temperature for storing honey is around 70°F, and refrigerators are usually set to 40°F or below. The colder temperature in the fridge will keep honey in a liquid state for longer. However, honey will still crystallize eventually even when refrigerated. Keeping it in an airtight container in the fridge will also prevent it from absorbing moisture and flavors from other foods.

How Long Does Opened Honey Last at Room Temperature?

Honey has an extraordinarily long shelf life thanks to its low moisture content and acidic pH which help prevent microbial growth. According to the National Honey Board, honey stored at room temperature in an airtight container can remain safe to eat indefinitely. While its quality may slowly decline over time, opened honey does not spoil or expire in the way many other foods do. However, room temperature storage will cause honey to crystallize more quickly compared to refrigeration. As long as honey is properly stored, it will remain edible despite crystallization.

Does Honey Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Refrigeration is not strictly necessary for storing honey after opening. Thanks to honey’s antimicrobial properties, it has an indefinite shelf life at room temperature when stored in an airtight container. However, refrigeration is recommended if you want to slow down the speed at which honey crystallizes. The ideal temperature for keeping honey in liquid form for as long as possible is around 70°F. Refrigerators are generally set to 40°F or below, so storing honey in the fridge will slow crystallization. Keep in mind that honey may thin out and become runny when warmed to room temperature after being refrigerated.

How to Store Honey to Prevent Crystallization

Crystallization is a natural process that occurs over time when glucose in honey spontaneously precipitates out of the supersaturated honey solution. It does not affect honey’s edibility or nutritional value. To help delay crystallization:

  • Store honey in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure honey containers are completely sealed to prevent moisture loss.
  • Keep honey away from heat, light, and humidity, which can accelerate crystallization.
  • Store in smaller containers to limit oxygen exposure, as oxygen speeds up crystallization.

If crystallization does occur, honey can be returned to liquid form by placing the container in warm water or gently heating it for a few minutes. Avoid boiling temperatures, as excess heat can destroy beneficial compounds and flavor.

What Kind of Container Is Best for Storing Honey?

The best containers for storing honey after opening are airtight ones made of materials that do not interact with honey’s aroma and flavor. Recommended options:

  • Glass jars or bottles – Nonporous so they do not absorb flavor. Should be dark or opaque to prevent light exposure.
  • Plastic – Food-grade HDPE or PET plastic. Avoid PVC plastic as it can leach chemicals.
  • Stainless steel – Does not interact with honey. Must be food-grade.
  • Ceramic – Glazed to provide a nonporous, nonreactive surface.

Avoid containers made of uncoated metal, as they may corrode or oxidize after contact with acidic honey. Always use clean, dry utensils when removing honey to prevent introducing moisture or contaminants. Make sure containers have tight-fitting lids.

What’s the Shelf Life of Honey After Opening?

When properly stored in an airtight container, honey has an indefinite shelf life regardless of whether it’s been opened or not. The key is making sure it’s tightly sealed to prevent moist air and contaminants from getting in. Over time, honey may crystallize or darken and lose some aroma and flavor nuances, but it remains safe to eat. An unopened, commercially processed honey has a best by date of 2 to 3 years from processing. Once opened, its shelf life is indefinite, but quality declines faster without the protection of an airtight seal. Practicing proper storage methods can maintain quality and freshness for many years.

Does Honey Need to Be Stored in a Dark Place?

It is recommended to store honey in a dark place after opening it. While honey itself does not need to be refrigerated, exposure to light can speed up the crystallization process. The glucose in honey responds to light by increasing crystal formation. Keeping honey in an opaque container in a dark pantry or cupboard helps extend its shelf life by preventing this light-induced crystallization reaction. If you can only store it in a light area, placing honey in an opaque container will still protect it. Avoid transparent or clear glass jars or bottles if possible.

Can You Store Honey in the Pantry?

Yes, the pantry is a suitable place to store honey after opening it. Honey has a very long shelf life at room temperature when kept in an airtight container, so storage in the pantry is safe and effective. Choose a spot away from heat sources, direct light, and humidity. As long as precautions are taken against crystallization, honey can be stored in the pantry indefinitely. The pantry simply provides a dark, room temperature storage space. For optimum freshness and to slow crystallization, refrigerated storage is recommended but not mandatory. Wherever you store it, keep honey sealed tight.

Can You Store Honey in a Cabinet?

Honey can be safely stored in a kitchen cabinet after opening. Cabinets provide dark, room temperature storage that will maintain honey’s quality and freshness for many years. Simply transfer opened honey into an airtight glass or plastic container and place it on a shelf away from heat sources and appliances that generate humidity. As with any cupboard storage, keeping the container sealed is key to preventing moisture absorption and crystallization. Store honey in a location you can easily see and access to catch any leaks. Avoid storing it above the stove or oven where heat may accelerate deterioration.

How to Prevent Honey from Crystallizing in Storage

Here are some tips for preventing honey from crystallizing during storage:

– Store honey at room temperature or colder. The ideal is around 70°F. Refrigeration between 35–40°F slows crystallization significantly.

– Keep it in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss, a factor in crystallization. Glass jars or plastic containers work best.

– Avoid drastic temperature fluctuations. Frequent shifts between cold and warm environments encourage crystallization.

– Prevent exposure to light which provides energy for glucose crystals to form. Use opaque containers.

– Buy small containers and use promptly. The less air inside, the slower it will crystallize.

– Store raw, unfiltered honey as they crystallize more gradually than filtered varieties.

– If crystallization begins, warm the jar briefly in warm water to melt crystals before they get too large.

– Consider products like creamed honey which incorporate stabilized microcrystals to inhibit further crystallization.

Does Honey Have to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Refrigeration is not strictly necessary when storing honey after opening. Thanks to its low moisture content and antimicrobial properties, properly sealed honey has an indefinite shelf life at room temperature. However, refrigeration is recommended if you want to slow down the speed at which honey crystallizes. The ideal temperature for minimizing crystallization is around 70°F, and refrigerators can maintain a climate between 35–40°F. Lower temperatures inhibit the formation of glucose crystals. So for maximum freshness and liquidity, refrigerate opened honey. But it can be safely kept in the pantry too. The key is keeping it in an airtight container regardless of location.

How Long Can You Store Honey After Opening?

Honey has an extraordinarily long shelf life, even after opening. When stored properly in an airtight container, opened honey will remain safe to consume indefinitely. Its shelf life is considered indefinite due to honey’s low moisture content and high acidity which make it inhospitable to microbial growth. While its texture, color, and flavor nuances may change over time, especially if crystallization occurs, honey does not spoil and become unsafe to eat if properly handled. As long as moisture cannot get in and it’s kept away from direct heat, honey can be stored for many years after opening without safety concerns.

Does Honey Need to Be Stored in the Fridge?

Storing honey in the fridge is recommended but not required. At room temperature around 70°F, honey has a seemingly indefinite shelf life if kept in an airtight container. However, colder refrigerator temperatures between 35–40°F will dramatically slow down the speed at which honey crystallizes during storage. The glucose crystals have less energy to precipitate out of solution. Refrigeration also preserves honey’s floral aroma, subtle flavors, and liquid state longer. So while pantry storage works, refrigeration is ideal for maintaining quality and freshness for many years after opening. If crystallization does occur, brief warming can re-liquefy refrigerated honey.

How to Soften Hard Honey After Crystallization

Crystallized honey can be returned to its liquid state by gently warming it up. Here are some methods:

– Place the honey jar in warm water and let it sit until crystals dissolve when stirred. Change the water if needed to maintain the right temperature. Avoid boiling water.

– Put the container in sunlight or near another gentle heat source like a radiator or heating vent.

– Microwave in short bursts, stopping to stir and check consistency.

– Place in oven at low temperature, ideally less than 110°F to retain nutrients and flavors.

– Set near a source of indirect heat like above a hot appliance for an hour or so to slowly warm.

– If just part of the honey crystallized, submerge just that portion in warm water.

– Use low heat to prevent damaging honey’s aroma and beneficial compounds.

Crystallization does not compromise honey’s safety. But liquefying it can make honey easier to use or incorporate into recipes.

Can You Microwave Crystallized Honey?

Yes, you can microwave crystallized honey to turn it from a solid back into a liquid. Use caution and low power to avoid overheating. The steps are:

1. Remove lid and microwave jar for 10-20 seconds at 50% power.

2. Remove and stir honey with a clean utensil. Check consistency.

3. If still solid or partially crystallized, microwave 10 seconds more, stir, and check.

4. Repeat at 10 second intervals until crystals fully dissolve when stirring.

5. Let honey cool briefly before tightly sealing jar.

Microwaving too long can destroy honey’s nuanced flavor and aroma or turn its texture too thin. Heat slowly and stir frequently to melt crystals without going too hot. Allowing initial cooling prevents boiling when crystals release stored liquid. Microwaving is a fast option but consider a low temperature water bath method for better flavor preservation.

Is It OK to Return Crystallized Honey to Liquid Form?

Yes, it is completely safe and OK to return crystallized honey to a liquid state. Crystallization is a natural process where glucose spontaneously precipitates out of honey over time. It does not affect honey’s edibility or nutritional value. Liquefying crystallized honey simply involves gently warming it to encourage the glucose to dissolve into solution again. This can be done through low-heat methods like a warm water bath, or brief stovetop or microwave heating. There are no safety issues with consuming honey that has been re-liquified after crystallizing. Just avoid prolonged, excessive heating that could negatively impact honey’s flavor and quality. As long as temperatures stay under 110°F, it is fine to return crystallized honey to its original liquid form.


Honey has unique properties that allow it to be stored at room temperature for an indefinite period when sealed in an airtight container. Although refrigeration can help slow crystallization and deterioration, it is not mandatory. To maximize shelf life after opening, store honey in a tightly sealed glass, plastic, or ceramic container in a cool, dark cupboard. Keeping it away from moisture, heat, and light prevents crystallization. Honey may harden eventually, but gentle warming will re-liquefy it without affecting safety or quality. With proper storage methods, honey retains its delicious flavor and natural health benefits for many years, even after the jar has been opened.

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