If you're trying to figure out the best way to store honey, you've got a bit of leeway. That's because, in the most technical sense, honey never goes bad. If you found a jar of unopened honey from 1972 sitting in your grandparents' house, you could probably crack that bad boy open and eat a spoonful without getting sick. But older honey probably won't look like the honey you purchased at the grocery store or farmer's market this week. That's because over time, the color and consistency of honey change—often becoming darker and crystallizing into a somewhat solid, sugary mass instead of the liquid gold you know and love. Plus, the experts at the National Honey Board say that the aroma and flavor of honey can weaken the longer it's just sitting on your shelf.
The best way to keep your honey as fresh as possible for as long as possible is to store honey correctly. There are a few ways to go about doing this, but there's one place you should never store honey: your refrigerator. Keeping honey in the fridge will only increase the speed of crystallization, turning your honey from liquid into a thick, dough-like sludge. And as Gwen Pearson explains in Wired, it doesn't have to be that cold for honey to start to crystalize: "Honey will crystallize in the hive if the temperature goes below 50ºF, and honey will crystallize in your containers if you have a cold cupboard cabinet."
The container you use to store honey is also important. For instance, you don't want to store honey in metal. According to food safety experts at Utah State University, "Honey is slightly acidic. It will cause rust in metal containers or on metal lids." And as for those ceramic honey pots? They're cute for tea parties but not ideal for long-term storage.
The best way to store honey, then, is at room temperature, in your pantry or on a kitchen shelf but out of direct sunlight. Honey should be stored in some kind of container with a tightly sealed lid, like a Mason jar. And if the honey still crystalizes despite your best efforts, don't worry. It's still safe to use—but it might also be time to get more honey.