I recently found out some really neat stuff about honey and so I had to share if with you guys. Did you know that kept correctly honey has an indefinite shelf life? How about its anti-bacterial properties? If you didn’t know that about honey then it’s probably safe to say that you don’t know why, but even if you did know about it’s properties, you will probably find the reasons interesting.
Many foods can be stored for very long periods of time but honey is very unique. As a sugar, honey is naturally hygroscopic (meaning it contains very little water, but absorbs it easily). Honey is also acidic and contains hydrogen peroxide. Wait, what? That’s right. When bees bring nectar back to the hive and regurgitate it a chemical from their stomachs called glucose oxidase reacts with the nectar and breaks down into two by-products, gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide.
So how exactly does this result in a food with an indefinite shelf life? Honey’s unique make-up creates an environment that is hostile to bacteria. Honey is acidic with a pH in the range 3 – 4.5 which means that bacteria would have a harder time surviving. Remember when we mentioned that honey is hygroscopic? With very little water to work with bacteria are going to have an even more difficult time surviving. The final nail in the coffin for bacteria is the presence of the hydrogen peroxide. As an anti-bacterial agent, the hydrogen peroxide is going to kill off bacteria as well. Isn’t that cool? Just wait. It gets better. Honey is a tried and true ancient wound treatment. For millennia honey has been applied as an anti-bacterial bandage to wounds and is in fact still used today! MEDIHONEY has a full line of medical grade honey products for treatment of wounds and burns which you can find on Amazon. When honey is applied to a wound its hygroscopic nature makes it draw water out of the wound making the wound less conducive to bacterial breeding while the thick nature of the honey creates an effective barrier against bacteria entering the wound. The amount of hydrogen peroxide present is the perfect amount to promote healing and the acidity of the honey lowers the pH of the wound. I love the idea of honey as a wound bandage. It’s perfect. There is just one little catch. Honey must be sealed against water (even water vapor in the air), otherwise the honey will draw the moisture in and it could spoil so keep it sealed and keep it dry. The great thing about honey is that it also contains some 600 compounds and has a wide range of other medicinal purposes as outlined in this article at Care2. Have a great day and God bless!
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Refrences: The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life: Smithsonian.com