Honey is a great long-term storage food that can be collected from wild bee colonies or domesticated beehives. An average hive produces around 65 pounds of honey.
Ripe, freshly collected, high-quality honey at 68 °F should flow from a knife in a straight stream, without breaking into separate drops. When poured, it should form small, temporary layers that disappear quickly, indicating high viscosity. If it does not form temporary layers, it has high water content and will not be suitable for long-term storage. The amount of water absorbed by honey depends on the relative humidity.
The honey has to be stored in sealed containers to prevent fermentation, which usually begins if the honey’s water content rises much above 25%. The average moisture content of floral honey is around 17% and cannot have more than 18.6% water content to qualify for the U.S. Grade A standard.
When buying honey from a beekeeper, you will typically not get a jar with an expiration stamp. However, honey sold in supermarkets will have this stamp because of commercial requirements.
Honey jars stamped with the “best before date” suggests a shelf life of 2 to 5 years. This “best before date” on the jar helps in indicating “freshness” of the honey and in a way signals to the customers whether or not the honey jar has been sitting on the shelf for too long; nobody wants to buy honey that is already years old even if it lasts forever.