Unlike most foods, honey never expires. In fact, the oldest known honey, found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb is dated back to approximately 3000 years ago and it is still not spoiled.
But what are the properties, due to which honey never expires ?
Any food item spoils or expires when some microorganism like bacteria and fungi are allowed to grow. these microorganism produces some toxic materials and spoils the food. However, due to honey’s hygroscopy and low pH, two qualities, that make it difficult for micro-organism to grow.
Honey’s Hygroscopy: – The water content of honey is a key factor in why it doesn’t spoil or expire. A normal honey contains appx 17% water in it. At 17%, its water content is much lower than that of bacteria or fungi. Honey also has a low water activity of 0.6. and as we know that most microorganisms are unable to grow under a water activity of 0.75. This, combined with the fact that its low water content dehydrates bacteria, makes it resistant to spoiling.
pH :- Another major factor that helps honey avoid spoiling is its acidity. Its average pH is 3.26 to 4.48. This acidity is contributed to by a number of acids, including formic acid, citric acid and gluconic acid. This further boosts honey’s antibacterial properties, as many bacteria thrive in neutral rather than acidic conditions.
Further, one more reason of phenomena honey never expires is that the bees put the antibody produced in their body into the honey that fend these microorganism to fend off.
Over the period of time, honey tends to crystallize and solidify and starts looking cloudy. Crystallization is a natural process affected by temperature, the ratio of glucose and fructose, and pollen. Because honey’s water content is so low and over time, glucose will precipitate out of the solution, forming solid crystals.
All these properties of honey makes the unfavorable conditions to grow the microorganism and because of this, honey never expires.
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