Should You Refrigerate Organic Honey? The Pros And Cons

With the rising popularity of organic and raw honey, many health-conscious consumers wonder if keeping honey in the fridge is necessary or beneficial. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Refrigerating organic honey is generally recommended but not always required, as honey is shelf-stable. However, refrigeration can help extend the shelf life and maximize health benefits.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the details around refrigerating organic honey and cover:

The Shelf Stability of Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener that has been used for centuries. One common question that arises is whether honey needs to be refrigerated to maintain its shelf stability. The answer to this question depends on various factors, including the type of honey and personal preference.

Honey Won’t Spoil at Room Temperature

Generally, honey does not spoil at room temperature. Due to its low water content and acidic pH, it creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria and other microorganisms to grow. This natural preservation property of honey allows it to remain safe for consumption for an extended period.

When stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, honey can last indefinitely. It may crystallize over time, turning into a solid form, but this is a natural process and does not indicate spoilage. To restore its liquid state, simply warm the honey jar in a bowl of warm water.

Refrigerating honey is not necessary for most types of honey, as it can cause the honey to thicken and become less fluid. However, some people prefer the taste and texture of chilled honey, especially when used as a topping for desserts or added to beverages. If you enjoy the refreshing sensation of cold honey, refrigeration can enhance your culinary experience.

Exceptions: Raw or Unpasteurized Honey

Raw or unpasteurized honey is different from commercially processed honey. It is obtained straight from the hive and contains natural enzymes, pollen, and other beneficial compounds. This type of honey is often sought after for its potential health benefits.

Raw honey may contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that can cause botulism, a rare but serious illness. While the chances of botulism from honey are extremely low, it is recommended not to give raw honey to infants under the age of one year. Their digestive systems are not yet fully developed to handle the potential spores present in raw honey.

Refrigerating raw honey can help slow down the growth of any potential bacteria, including C. botulinum spores. However, it is important to note that refrigeration does not eliminate the risk entirely. Pasteurized honey, which has been heated to kill any potential bacteria, does not require refrigeration.

Benefits of Refrigerating Honey

Refrigerating honey can have several advantages, making it a popular choice for many honey enthusiasts. Let’s explore the benefits of refrigerating honey:

Extends Shelf Life

One of the primary benefits of refrigerating honey is that it extends its shelf life. Honey is a natural product with a long lifespan, but refrigeration can help preserve its freshness even further. By keeping honey in the refrigerator, you can prevent the growth of bacteria and yeast, ensuring that your honey stays fresh for a longer period.

Retains Nutrients and Enzymes

Refrigerating honey can also help retain its valuable nutrients and enzymes. Honey is known for its numerous health benefits, including its antioxidant properties and potential antibacterial effects. When stored at lower temperatures, these beneficial compounds are better preserved, allowing you to reap the maximum nutritional benefits when consuming refrigerated honey.

Improves Texture and Consistency

Another advantage of refrigerating honey is that it can enhance its texture and consistency. When honey is exposed to fluctuating temperatures, it may become grainy or crystallized over time. By refrigerating honey, you can slow down the crystallization process, ensuring that your honey remains smooth and easy to spread.

Prevents Crystallization

Crystallization is a natural process that occurs in most types of honey. While crystallized honey is still safe to consume, some people prefer the liquid consistency of fresh honey. Refrigerating honey can help delay the crystallization process, keeping your honey in a more liquid state for a longer duration.

Downsides of Refrigerating Honey

Can Cause Honey to Crystallize Faster

One downside of refrigerating honey is that it can cause the honey to crystallize faster. Honey naturally contains sugars, and when it is exposed to cold temperatures, these sugars can solidify and form crystals. This can make the honey appear cloudy or grainy in texture. While crystallized honey is still safe to eat, some people prefer the smooth, liquid consistency of non-crystallized honey. If you prefer your honey to remain in its liquid form, it may be best to store it at room temperature.

Alters Taste and Aroma

Refrigerating honey can also alter its taste and aroma. Honey is known for its distinct flavors and fragrances, which can vary depending on the type of flowers the bees collect nectar from. When honey is refrigerated, it can absorb odors from other foods in the refrigerator, resulting in a change in taste and aroma. Additionally, the cold temperatures can dull the flavors of the honey, making it less enjoyable to consume. If you want to fully savor the natural taste and aroma of your organic honey, it is recommended to store it at room temperature.

While refrigerating honey may have its downsides, it is important to remember that honey is a natural preservative and has a long shelf life. Properly stored honey can last indefinitely without refrigeration, as long as it is kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.

Best Practices for Storing Honey

Cool, Dark Place for Short Term Storage

When it comes to storing honey, the key is to keep it in a cool and dark place. This helps to maintain its quality and prevent it from spoiling. Ideally, you should store your honey in a pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight and heat sources. The temperature should be around 70°F (21°C) for optimal storage. Additionally, make sure the container is tightly sealed to prevent any moisture from getting in.

Fridge for Long Term Storage

While honey can be stored at room temperature for short periods, such as a few weeks, refrigerating it is the best option for long term storage. The cool temperature of the fridge helps to slow down the natural crystallization process, which can occur over time. Refrigeration can keep your honey in good condition for several months or even up to a year. Just make sure to transfer your honey to a tightly sealed container before placing it in the fridge to prevent any odors from being absorbed.

How to Reliquefy Crystallized Honey

Crystallization is a natural process that occurs in honey, especially if it has been stored for a long time or exposed to cooler temperatures. If your honey has crystallized, don’t worry, it’s still perfectly safe to consume. To reliquefy crystallized honey, simply place the container in a warm water bath. The warm water will gently heat the honey and dissolve the crystals, making it smooth and liquid again. Avoid microwaving the honey as it can destroy its beneficial enzymes and antioxidants.

Remember, the choice to refrigerate organic honey ultimately depends on your personal preference and how quickly you consume it. If you use honey regularly and go through it quickly, storing it in a cool, dark place should be sufficient. However, if you have a large quantity or want to extend its shelf life, refrigeration is the way to go. Whichever storage method you choose, always make sure to keep your honey tightly sealed and away from moisture to preserve its quality.

Signs Honey Has Gone Bad


One of the telltale signs that honey has gone bad is fermentation. Fermentation occurs when the natural sugars in honey start to break down and produce alcohol. This can happen when honey is exposed to high temperatures or if it is stored in a damp environment. If your honey smells sour or has a strong alcoholic odor, it may have fermented and is no longer safe to consume. Fermented honey may also have a fizzy or bubbly texture.

Color or Texture Changes

Another sign that honey has gone bad is changes in color or texture. Honey is known for its golden color and smooth, syrup-like texture. If you notice that your honey has become cloudy, darkened in color, or has developed crystals or granules, it may have spoiled. These changes can occur due to the growth of bacteria or yeast in the honey.

Mold Growth

Mold growth is a clear indicator that honey has gone bad. While honey has natural antibacterial properties that help prevent the growth of mold, it can still occur under certain conditions. If you see any fuzzy growth or discoloration on the surface of your honey, it is best to discard it. Moldy honey can cause allergic reactions or other health problems if consumed.

To ensure the freshness and quality of your honey, it is important to store it properly. Keep your honey in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. This will help prevent fermentation, color or texture changes, and mold growth.

Remember, honey has an incredibly long shelf life and does not require refrigeration. However, if you prefer your honey to be chilled, it is safe to refrigerate it. Just be aware that refrigeration can cause crystallization, which can be easily reversed by placing the honey jar in warm water and stirring until the crystals dissolve.

For more information on honey storage and safety, you can visit the National Honey Board website.


While honey’s natural properties make it quite shelf-stable, refrigeration can help maximize its quality, texture, nutrients and shelf life. The ideal storage method depends on the type of honey and duration. Following best practices around temperature, light exposure and container sealing will keep your honey tasting great. Look for signs of spoilage before consumption, and enjoy your golden nectar!

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