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Article 2 (May 2019): Honey: The sticky story about an 'eternal' food

May 30, 2019
Honey has remarkable staying power.  It can definitely remain edible for dozens of years, maybe hundreds, theoretically even thousands if properly sealed and stored.
 
The reason why honey has such a long shelf life is that, like cane sugar, it contains very little water, explains Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute at University of California, Davis.  Bacteria and microorganisms, Harris says, can't survive in such a setting.  Add to that, honey is very acidic; another reason bacterium can't grow inside.
              
The very bees who collect nectar and burp up honey also contribute to its shelf-stable qualities. An enzyme in their stomachs mixes with nectar from flowers and breaks it down into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, another inhibitor to bacterial growth.
              
Because of its chemistry and low-water nature, honey can be used to seal wounds and burns, serving as a barrier against infection. Sumerian clay tablets from 1900 BC list honey for these medicinal uses.
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