Author Topic: Spoiled Honey???  (Read 3017 times)

Offline LvsChant

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Spoiled Honey???
« on: October 13, 2017, 07:01:52 PM »
I have consistently kept honey on my shelf for storage for many years now and never had a problem until recently. When I used up the last of a jar of honey I bought in 2012 or so (it was still fine, although a few crystals formed in the bottom of the jar). So... I went to my shelf and got the next oldest jar, purchased in 2014 or so from a local farm supply store from local hives (raw honey). So... as soon as I opened the jar, I could tell something was not right. The honey had gotten really dark and was a bit cloudy... it had a funny smell and taste. I wasn't sure just what was wrong with it, so disposed of it...

However, I was wondering if others have insight to offer about this. I have never had a problem with long-term storage of honey in the past... a few sugar crystals were never a problem in my opinion, but this was really not good at all.


Offline Cedar

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 07:14:48 PM »
Is it a stink like fermented? Or just a weird smell? With it being dark, I would think it would be a fall honey, unless it was lighter to begin with? Sometimes later flowers like asters(?) Give a weird stinky honey.

If fermented, not cured into honey before it was harvested?

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Offline LvsChant

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 08:28:40 PM »
It didn't smell fermented... just a weird, stinky dark honey. It wasn't that dark when I bought it... strange. It was just sitting on the shelf in my pantry all that time and I hadn't noticed how dark and murky it had become. It was very puzzling... nothing I've ever experienced before. I emptied it into my compost pile... maybe I'll get some good out of it eventually :)

Offline David in MN

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 09:55:31 PM »
Bacterial. I would guess the water activity was too high. If you hadn't tossed it I'd have some lab ideas. Was it taken relative to rain? Brix?

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 11:11:15 PM »
So, are you saying the local beekeeper did something wrong in the collection or something in the early process? What do you mean by "Water activity was too high"?

Offline Stwood

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2017, 06:46:04 AM »
I've never seen any bad honey

Offline Cedar

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2017, 06:56:20 AM »
Bacterial. I would guess the water activity was too high.

That is why I was wondering if it had a fermented smell. Or if the bees died off and they harvested the honey anyway. When friends hives died out, we had them in the house to dry out to paint. The uncured honey started to reek like fermented ick, Nd then like teenage boy tennis shoes.

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Offline CharlesH

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2017, 06:56:40 AM »
So, are you saying the local beekeeper did something wrong in the collection or something in the early process? What do you mean by "Water activity was too high"?
 
It’s a possibility.  Honey is cured by bees through evaporation and some enzyme activity in their bodies.  Once the honey is sufficiently evaporated the bees will cap it with wax.  I’ve never had a problem storing honey that was 85-100% capped before I spun it out of the frames.
 
Sometimes, however, the frames will not be all capped.  The uncapped frames are cells that have more water in them than the capped cells: the bees hadn’t evaporated them down to the level they wanted for storage.  This honey will have more water, less sugar, and be more prone to spoilage.
 
You mentioned in a post that you had opened some honey from several years ago that only had a few crystals in the bottom of the jar, right?  That was a clue to me that your honey may have been too watery when you got it: in my world properly cured honey always crystalizes.
 
I do process uncapped honey.  I try to do it at the end, after I have drained off the best stuff, and use it first and for myself.  It doesn’t taste bad or anything.  But if yours is spoiled, I’d get rid of it.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2017, 09:02:13 AM »
So, are you saying the local beekeeper did something wrong in the collection or something in the early process? What do you mean by "Water activity was too high"?

Sorry, I often forget that not everyone has had my years in the food industry. My bad. "Water activity" is a measurement we use to describe the vapor pressure of a substance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_activity

The example in Wiki even relates to honey. In a nutshell, under a certain water activity (about .7) your food will be "shelf stable". There just isn't enough free moisture for bacteria and fungi to grow. If something went wrong in processing and additional moisture got in it could be just enough to allow a bug to spoil the honey.

Water activity is the measurement used in industry to determine if refrigeration is required. This is why I keep locally made syrup in the ice box. I don't know so I stay on the safe side.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2017, 04:06:02 PM »
Thanks very much, all! I will probably let the folks at the feed store know about my experience and ask if they have had others with a similar problem. It could be that no one else around here stores it for such a long while and so they haven't had the problem I had. I suppose if they used it immediately, it might have been fine even with a higher water content?

I prefer to buy from local producers, but I admit this experience hasn't made me all that secure about buying locally from this particular supplier...

Offline Cedar

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2017, 07:16:24 PM »
Honey out of some ancient pharoah's tomb was edible... Not that I probably would have tried it... But honey just doesn't usually go bad.

Cedar

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2017, 09:36:34 PM »
 
You mentioned in a post that you had opened some honey from several years ago that only had a few crystals in the bottom of the jar, right?  That was a clue to me that your honey may have been too watery when you got it: in my world properly cured honey always crystalizes.

I have local place that sells three varieties of local raw honey: clover, wildflower, and snowberry.  The snowberry does not crystallize.  At least not in 3 years.  It is my favorite of the three.
I hate clover honey.  Clover honey is the reason that, growing up, I disliked honey.  When I was an adult and realized that there are different flavors based on the flowers, I tried other flavors, and I love some honeys.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Spoiled Honey???
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2017, 01:09:41 PM »
I have always loved honey... I'm on a fairly low-carb diet right now, so my use of honey, jams, etc. is fairly limited. My main use of honey is for making bread or homemade granola. So... it does take me quite awhile to use up a jar of honey these days...

The jar I just finished up (with the crystals in the bottom) was from hives near a blueberry orchard (correct term?). It was fantastic honey... the replacement honey I bought is from Colorado, so still fairly close, but I don't think it names a particular flavor...