How long can honey last? While excavating Egypt’s famous pyramids, archaeologists have found pots of honey in an ancient tomb. The honey, dating back approximately 3,000 years, is one of the world’s oldest sample – and still perfectly edible.
Ceramic jars containing the world’s oldest honey (as far as archaeologists have found) — about 5,500 years old — were discovered in the tomb of a noblewoman in Georgia, not far from Tbilisi. They say honey never expires, but this honey is really old. (It is not clear if it was edible).
How can honey last so long? A slew of factors—its acidity, its lack of water and the presence of hydrogen peroxide—work in perfect harmony, allowing the sticky treat to last forever
Modern archaeologists, excavating ancient Egyptian tombs, have often found something unexpected amongst the tombs’ artefacts: pots of honey, thousands of years old, and yet still preserved. Through millennia, the archaeologists discovery of the food remaining unspoiled, is an unmistakable testament to the eternal shelf-life of honey.
There are a few other examples of foods that keep–indefinitely–in their raw state: salt, sugar, dried rice are a few. But there’s something about honey; it can remain preserved in a completely edible form, and while you wouldn’t want to chow down on raw rice or straight salt, one could ostensibly dip into a thousand year old jar of honey and enjoy it, without preparation, as if it were a day old. Moreover, honey’s longevity lends it other properties–mainly medicinal–that other resilient foods don’t have. Which raises the question–what exactly makes honey such a special food?
How long can honey last? The answer is as complex as honey’s flavor–you don’t get a food source with no expiration date without a whole slew of factors working in perfect harmony.
The first comes from the chemical make-up of honey itself. Honey is, first and foremost, a sugar. Sugars are hygroscopic, a term that means they contain very little water in their natural state but can readily suck in moisture if left unsealed.
Honey is also naturally extremely acidic. It has a pH that falls between 3 and 4.5, approximately, and that acid will kill off almost anything that wants to grow there.