Why honey has fermented or turned sour and what to do with it

What affects the durability of a product?

This quality is provided directly by the properties of the product itself.

These include:

  1. Low humidity levels. The small amount of liquid in the product makes it impossible for putrefactive processes to develop in it.
  2. Acidic environment. The pH value of 3-4.5, inherent in honey, characterizes a highly acidic environment, which is unsuitable for the normal functioning of bacteria.
  3. The presence of gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide in the product. During the processing of nectar into honey, the bee's body mixes it with a special enzyme - glucose oxidase. The result of this chemical reaction is peroxide and gluconic acid. They become precisely the substances that destroy bacteria.

Honey in a jug

The ability of honey to crystallize (this process is called sugaring) also contributes to its long-term storage.

Frequently asked questions about storing treats

During storage of the product, changes in its appearance, taste and smell may occur. They are associated with natural processes or with a violation of any maintenance rule.

Why did the honey thicken?

As we have already mentioned, the acquisition of a white tint and sugaring of the product is normal for honey. It has not deteriorated, but, on the contrary, can now be stored for a long time without losing its properties. It is undesirable to melt a product if it has been candied, even in a water bath; when heated, it releases a toxic substance, and most of the vitamins are destroyed. Almost all types of honey crystallize, except acacia and honeydew.

Why did the product separate?

Segregation may indicate a high glucose content in the product or excess moisture. It is better not to store such honey at room temperature; it should be placed in the refrigerator and stirred before eating.

Honey has turned a darker shade, what does this mean?

If the product has darkened, it means it needs to be stored at a lower temperature. If the taste and smell have not changed, honey can be eaten, but its beneficial properties have already been reduced. Honey also darkens if it separates. In this case, darkened honey can also be eaten.

Why does honey foam?

Air bubbles floating to the surface indicate that active fermentation processes have begun in the product. First, the product acquires a pronounced natural odor, then gives off alcohol. This is the only reason why honey foams. This is possible if it was pumped out unripe or the temperature and humidity of storage were disturbed.

honey in jars
If honey is not candied for a long time, this does not mean that you bought a fake

Honey has not thickened - is it fake?

The reason why honey is not candied and thickens may not only be counterfeit, but it is also possible that a sufficient period has not yet passed for the product to crystallize, usually 3-5 months. What kind of honey does not thicken for a long time: white acacia and honeydew.

How can you tell if a treat has gone bad?

If the product has acquired a bitter taste, an unnatural color or a sour smell with abundant foam on the surface, these are sure signs that it is no longer suitable for consumption.

Honey can be stored for a very long time and the product will retain its beneficial properties and taste. But compliance with the conditions of detention, as well as the original quality of the product, are very important in this process. It doesn’t matter how long honey is stored, it’s how.

Causes of fermentation and how to avoid it

It also happens that honey begins to ferment. This process is due to a number of reasons.

Early harvest and high humidity levels

Inexperienced beekeepers or those who care not about the quality of the product, but its quantity, often pump out immature honey. After some time, the product begins to ferment. The fermentation process is determined primarily by a high level of humidity.

Unripe honey contains up to 60% water, while 20% is considered normal. And if this indicator is exceeded, then the process of souring the product cannot be avoided, since the liquid environment is favorable for the growth of bacteria.

Honey collection

Unripe honey that has not yet begun to deteriorate can also be eaten. But the product, pumped out of the honeycombs ahead of time, has almost no beneficial properties. Therefore, it is better to use it only in processed form.

Incorrect storage conditions

Failure to comply with storage rules leads to the fact that honey begins to ferment.

Most often, the main reasons for product souring are:

  1. Using a poorly washed container, especially in cases where honey was also stored in it previously. The “old” film formed on the walls of the vessel will cause fermentation of the new product.
  2. Failure to comply with temperature conditions. The optimal range is considered to be +5…+20 °C. That is, at room temperature (+20…+25 °C) honey will sooner or later begin to deteriorate. Constant temperature changes also have a negative effect on it.
  3. Incorrectly selected container. Metal and non-airtight containers will shorten the shelf life of the amber product.
  4. High humidity in the room (more than 75%).
  5. Exposure to direct sunlight.

Honey in a jar and in a honeycomb

If you can avoid these mistakes, you can enjoy a tasty and high-quality product for a long time.


Over time, honey begins to become cloudy and harden. And this is not an indicator of its poor quality, as many people think. On the contrary, this is a natural process for a real product. And when the structure changes, honey does not lose its beneficial qualities; they are retained in full. Unless the process was caused artificially or by violations of storage rules.

So, honey that has been in the cold for a long time, especially at low temperatures, will definitely thicken. But when placed in a warm room, it will gradually begin to acquire a more liquid consistency due to the released moisture. And its excess helps to reduce shelf life. Therefore, you should not keep honey in the refrigerator or cold cellar.

The structure of the sweet mass may change even after heating. The latter is most often the fault of sellers who try to give their product stickiness and an attractive color in this way. Moreover, they can do this repeatedly, which will certainly affect the quality and shelf life of the product.

In order not to purchase a low-quality product, you must follow a simple rule: in the off-season, real honey cannot have a viscous consistency. It was given to him artificially. Therefore, the most correct thing to do is to buy the product in candied form.

Honey with a wooden bowl


Unscrupulous sellers, more concerned about their own earnings, may add foreign impurities to their products. Most often, sugar syrup, water, or last year's honey that remains unsold are used to deceive buyers. To bring the product to an attractive appearance, it must be subjected to heat treatment more than once. After the process is completed, the product loses both quality and safety.

Within 2-3 weeks the honey will begin to deteriorate. To avoid buying sweets with impurities, you need to carefully examine the contents of the jar. Their presence in the product is indicated by white flakes, sediment, and uneven color.

What to do if it ferments?

Fermented honey

If a bubbly white foam has formed in a jar of honey, and the honey itself has acquired a strange taste, this means that it has fermented. What to do with sour honey? There are some manipulations that can save him.

Important! If honey has a very strong unpleasant odor and disgusting taste, this means that the product has fermented. It should be thrown away immediately.

If the fermentation process has just begun to affect the product, to prevent it you must do the following:

  • remove white foam from the surface of the product, capturing a layer of the unaffected fragment. After all, the bacteria that caused the bacteria, as well as the water, could have penetrated much deeper into the affected area;
  • heat-treat the honey by placing it in a water bath at a temperature of about 60 0C for 40 minutes to an hour. As a result of this, all bacteria that caused spoilage will die, and the moisture that promotes their activity will evaporate.

As a result of exposure to high temperatures, the fermentation process will stop briefly and the shelf life of the honey will be extended.

It is worth remembering that high temperatures also kill all the beneficial properties, and the output is only a natural sweetener.

Is it possible to save honey that has gone bad?

This can only be done when the fermentation process has just begun.

Liquid honey

To do this you need:

  1. Skim off all the foamy mass. Remove a few centimeters of unspoiled product.
  2. Pour the honey into a clean container and place in a water bath.
  3. Warm it up at +60 °C for 1 hour.
  4. Cool and pour into a clean glass jar.

Since the “saved” product can quickly deteriorate in heat, it must be kept at a low temperature (about +8...+10 °C). But it must be said that there is no point in long-term storage. After all, after processing, honey loses its beneficial properties and becomes simply an aromatic sweet mass, which is best used for culinary purposes - for example, to make mead.

How to store honey: a few rules

Honey retains its edible appearance and beneficial properties only if it is properly stored. Let's consider what measures can make this product almost eternal.


Recommended conditions – from -6 to +20 0C. Room temperature for honey is unacceptable - it will separate and become unusable. If you keep it at temperatures above +20 0C, the product will lose some of its beneficial microelements. A mark above +40 0C will deprive it of all healing regalia. Low temperature conditions (below zero) will in no way affect the quality of the bee product.

Attention! Do not transfer honey from one temperature regime to another. This action will make its crystallization uneven.


Instead of wondering whether honey can go bad, it’s better to get the right containers to store it. Ideally, this should be a dark glass container with a tight lid. The permitted utensils also include enamel and ceramic. The container should be thoroughly washed (preferably not with dishwashing liquid, but with laundry soap), rinsed with plenty of water and dried.

Attention! It is not recommended to store honey in metal and galvanized containers - the product will oxidize and become unfit for consumption.


Do not expose honey to direct sunlight. They will heat the container and “take away” some of the healing abilities from the product. In addition, it can lose its antimicrobial properties and, therefore, quickly deteriorate. The third rule follows from this statement: store the amber dessert in a dark, cool place.


The storage location should contain a small amount of moisture. The problem is that the product, due to its hygroscopicity, will absorb all the moisture present in the environment. And if it absorbs a lot of water, it will become liquid and become unusable.

Optimal conditions for preserving the product

Only the creation of favorable conditions will allow us to have a natural product that never spoils.

You don't need much for this:

  1. Store the product in a hermetically sealed container, and it is better to use small containers as the latter. When opening large jars in order to collect the required amount of sweetness from them, microbes will enter the contents, which can significantly reduce shelf life.
  2. Protect containers from direct sunlight.
  3. Create an optimal storage temperature: +8…+15 °C. At the same time, sudden changes should not be allowed.
  4. Do not scoop the product from a large container with a wet spoon, as this will allow moisture to enter and spoil the sweetness.
  5. If there are no other suitable places for storage besides the refrigerator, it is better to place the containers on shelves in the door.
  6. Do not mix old and new, just purchased product.

In addition to glass, ceramic or enamel dishes are well suited for storage. But before you pour honey into any container, you must wash it thoroughly, then pour it over with boiling water and dry it. Utensils made of zinc, aluminum, or copper will not be suitable, because their walls, when interacting with the beekeeping product, will begin to oxidize, which will allow harmful metal impurities to enter it.

Natural high-quality honey can retain its taste and beneficial qualities for a long time. But for this you need to follow all the simple rules for storing it.

What else can be made from fermented honey?

Once the honey has been processed, the question remains: what to do with it? The resulting product only vaguely resembles a beekeeping product, but still has a fairly wide range of applications. Recycled amber mixture can be used:

  • In baking. Even after heat treatment, honey retained its taste and aroma and therefore it is not surprising that the first place where it can be used is in the preparation of various baked goods: cakes, pastries, etc. There are no special restrictions on use - the processed product is used in the same way as an unspoiled one.
  • In preparing drinks. You can make alcoholic or non-alcoholic mead from processed raw materials.
  • In cosmetology. Despite the fact that the processed mixture has almost completely lost its beneficial properties and is unsuitable for use in traditional medicine, it can be used in cosmetology. Reconstituted honey is a good base for making cosmetic masks and scrubs.

The reasons why honey may ferment may vary, but this does not mean that the product should be disposed of immediately. Yes, it cannot be eaten for breakfast in its pure form or used in folk medicine to treat various diseases. But it can be processed and prepared into a lot of delicious products that will delight both you and your household.

Honey is included in the ingredients of many dishes. Homemade honey cakes are especially popular.

Does natural honey spoil over time?

Being in hives, the product can be stored for a long time without losing its beneficial qualities. At home, subject to certain rules, honey does not spoil for a long time. Opinions differ on this matter. Some experts say that the shelf life of the delicacy is no more than a year, others think otherwise. Beekeepers say that a product aged for more than 24 months, on the contrary, becomes more useful and does not lose its qualities.

Interesting: Can custard be stored in the freezer?

How to melt honey?

Having received information about whether honey can ferment and why, you should study the technique of heating it. As stated above, this process can stop the fermentation process.

First of all, you should not heat the plastic container, as some of the chemicals from it may migrate into the food. If the jar of honey is not glass, it is not recommended to process the product directly in it. This is one of the main reasons why honey is most often bottled in glass containers. Glass may not be as convenient as containers made from lightweight, flexible plastic, but this way the honey can be remelted directly into the jar.

The most common way to re-liquefy honey is to remove the lid of the jar and place the container in a deep pan of hot water. This is how heating occurs in a water bath. Do not boil water unless you want to heat the honey to 70 degrees. It is enough to just keep the water hot. Stir the contents of the jar slowly to distribute the heat evenly throughout the honey. The cooler the water, the longer the product will liquefy. The warmer it is, the faster this process will happen.

The more and longer honey is heated, the more likely it is that some of its subtle flavors will be lost. Once the product is clear, remove it from the hot water and allow it to cool. If it is liquid but opaque, there are still small crystals left in it. If you remove it from the water in this state, it will quickly crystallize.

The most common way to re-liquefy honey is to remove the lid of the jar and place the container in a deep pan of hot water. This is how heating occurs in a water bath. Do not boil water unless you want to heat the honey to 70 degrees. It is enough to just keep the water hot. Stir the contents of the jar slowly to distribute the heat evenly throughout the honey. The cooler the water, the longer the product will liquefy. The warmer it is, the faster this process will happen.

Possible structure changes

During long-term storage of honey, you can notice how its structure gradually changes. Freshly pumped out of the hive, it is quite runny. After about three months, the sweet product gradually becomes thicker and may even darken a little. This process is absolutely normal for natural honey. On the contrary, you should be wary if a sweet treat remains in a liquid state for a long time. It is possible that foreign additives were used during production. The exception is acacia honey - it has a high fructose content, so it may not thicken for a long time.

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After approximately 9 months of storage, the process of crystallization begins. This is also a natural process that does not affect either the taste or the usefulness of this product. Also, you should not be alarmed by a slight change in the color of honey over time or a decrease in its transparency.

Whether honey will spoil over time and under what conditions often depends not only on the conditions of its storage. Factors such as the time of honey collection, the plant varieties from which it was collected, even transportation - all can affect shelf life.

The benefits of consuming natural honey are difficult to overestimate. However, it should be remembered that honey is a fairly strong allergen. This product should also not be given to small children.

In addition to the dishes, the conditions under which the honey will be stored are also of great importance.

Pure honey

In its pure form, honey is a highly concentrated sugar containing very little water. This makes it one of the few foods that is naturally resistant to spoilage because fungi and other microorganisms require a certain amount of free liquid to thrive and reproduce.

Honey may or may not spoil over time: why nectar may disappear

In its pure form, honey is a highly concentrated sugar containing very little water. This makes it one of the few foods that is naturally resistant to spoilage because fungi and other microorganisms require a certain amount of free liquid to thrive and reproduce.

Usage and application

Is it possible to eat sour food? To avoid problems with digestion, it is better, of course, not to eat it in this “ready” form, since even in healthy people, soured honey will cause indigestion, heartburn and heaviness in the stomach. With heat treatment, the use of such honey is possible.

Is it possible to give such “food” to winged workers? The question is controversial. Some beekeepers feed their “pets” with slightly fermented honey. But this is only permissible in the summer, and it is strictly forbidden to do this in the winter, especially if there are obvious signs of fermentation, otherwise it will result in death for such small insects. Undoubtedly, a high-quality, mature product is much healthier for bees.

For novice beekeepers and experienced beekeepers, you can find a lot of information to avoid problems with bees and the quality of honey on the large united beekeeping forum “Beekeeper Info” (link).

Fermented raw materials are also used for other purposes: added to baked goods, marinades, used for cosmetic procedures and soothing honey baths, and for preparing the alcoholic drink mead. The taste and aroma are preserved.

What is honey?

Honey is a sweet, natural substance produced by bees from nectar or plant secretions.

But how do they make it? Bees suck flower nectar, mix it with saliva and enzymes and store it in a kind of pouch. They then leave it in the hive to mature. In the same way, they then feed on it in winter.

It is known that the composition of honey depends on the type of bees, plants and flowers they use. Therefore, it can vary significantly in taste and color. From transparent and colorless to dark amber color.

Of course, honey is 80% sugar. Moreover, it contains no more than 18% water. The exact amount is determined by the bee species, plants, weather and humidity, and treatment.

Apart from this, it also contains organic acids like gluconic acid. It is primarily responsible for its characteristic sour taste.

In addition, unfiltered honey contains pollen. But it also has a very useful composition. These are proteins, enzymes, amino acids and vitamins.

From a nutritional perspective, the only significant nutrient in honey is sugar. One tablespoon (21 g) contains approximately 17.2 g, which translates to about 65 calories.

In addition, honey contains minor traces of minerals, such as potassium. This is especially true for darker varieties. Although, of course, their quantities are extremely small to be relevant to nutritional value.

Now let's sum it up! Honey is a food produced by bees from the nectar of plants. It contains a lot of sugar and trace amounts of other substances. For example, organic acids, potassium, protein, enzymes and vitamins.

Can honey go sour?

Having tasted the honey you just bought or stored at home, you felt a sourish or even very sour taste. What could this mean? And why does honey sour? The reason is the same yeast fungi, and the fermentation process is accompanied by a sour smell of the product.

The reasons for the manifestation of such processes are still the same: crystal structure, early harvest, additives and high temperatures.

To get rid of the sour taste, you can, of course, boil the product and save it from the further fermentation process, but it is advisable to throw it away immediately. After heat treatment, it will lose its beneficial properties.

When heated, the chemical composition of the “natural antibiotic” changes significantly

Utensils for honey

When storing honey at home, it is of great importance what container it will be in. Experts do not recommend keeping honey in a metal or wooden container for a long time: metal oxidizes over time and spoils the taste, and wood can add bitterness to honey.

It is optimal to store natural honey in a ceramic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Then it will not become saturated with foreign odors and additional moisture.

Whether honey can spoil over time will also depend on the cleanliness of the storage container. It is better to sterilize the jars or at least wash them thoroughly. It is unacceptable to mix the new one with the remnants of the old one, this will lead to rapid spoilage of the product.

If it is not possible to pour the purchased honey into a glass or ceramic container, you can also use a food-grade plastic container for storage. Only in this case the product can be stored for no longer than a year.

Honey comb

Natural honey in wax combs is not only a tasty treat, it is also very healthy. After all, the wax from which honeycombs are made is also soaked in honey. In addition, they contain a large amount of propolis, which is useful for strengthening the immune system.

To prevent honey from leaking out, the honeycombs are first cut into pieces and then placed in the selected storage container. It is optimal if it is a ceramic pot or a dark glass jar.

Quite often doubts arise whether honey in honeycombs can spoil? Excess moisture can interfere with the long-term preservation of honey in honeycombs. If the humidity is above 50%, the honeycomb may become deformed and fall apart. Mold may appear and the useful product will become unusable.

In the apiary, natural honey is stored in the hives for many years and does not lose any of its unique qualities. But when stored at home, it is only possible to find out whether honey deteriorates over time or not through experience.

There are different opinions about how long honey can be stored. Many experts are sure that it does not last more than 12 months, and then it loses its beneficial properties. But beekeepers have a completely different opinion. They assure that even a two- and three-year-old product not only does not lose its qualities, but also becomes healthier.

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