Maple syrup brings so much goodness and sweetness to our tables. In most households, demand often exceeds supply.
But, on the off chance that you have quite a bit of it or discovered an old bottle, you might be wondering ‘does maple syrup go bad?’ Read on to learn more about its shelf life and some smart storage hacks.
Does Maple Syrup Go Bad?
Pure, unopened maple syrup stored in the right environment will not go bad. In fact, in this state, the syrup can stay fresh indefinitely.
That said, your bottle of maple syrup could easily lose its freshness if you open and store it in the pantry or cabinet. The moment you open a new bottle, the sugar content in the syrup starts to attract moisture, creating the perfect breeding ground for mold.
We strongly recommend refrigerating opened maple syrup to keep it from spoiling. We’ll take a look at how best to store maple syrup but first, let’s find out about the shelf life.
How Long Does Maple Syrup Last?
Pure maple syrup is manufactured in a way that ensures that the stuff lasts for years without spoiling, as long as it is properly stored.
After harvesting, sugarmakers boil the syrup at high temperatures. This removes a lot of the water and concentrates the sugar content, which explains why maple syrup is exceptionally sweet.
The low water content is advantageous because most types of mold cannot grow where there is no water. This is why maple syrup can last indefinitely in an unopened bottle or as long as moisture does not get in the bottle.
As a shelf-stable product, maple syrup will keep well in the pantry for many years. However, when kept for too long, the syrup may darken and the flavor slightly change.
Once you open the bottle, you should seal it tightly and store it in the fridge. Refrigerated, maple syrup can last up to 1 year past its sell-by.
However, opened syrup is prone to developing mold. Even if you are super careful not to let water in, every time you open the bottle drops of moisture in the air transfer into the bottle. Mold can mess up with the quality of the syrup and it would be best to just buy a new bottle of your favorite brand.
Unadulterated maple syrup freezes well. Stored in a cooler or freezer, the syrup can last indefinitely. It will not freeze due to the high sugar content but it will thicken instead.
If you have more maple syrup than you can reasonably use, the best way to extend its shelf life is to stick it in the freezer until you are ready to use it.
Maple Syrup Shelf Life
|Unopened maple syrup||Indefinitely||Indefinitely|
Opened maple syrup
5 Tips To Tell If Maple Syrup Has Gone Bad
As we’ve seen pure maple syrup doesn’t go bad easily. However, improper storage can easily mess up with the syrup’s quality. Here are some tips to help you check the freshness of your favorite syrup:
1. Sell-by date
This sounds obvious but the sell-by date is a good place to start. If your maple syrup has gone past its sell-by date, you might be wondering whether this means it has gone bad.
The good news is, as long as it doesn’t have classic signs of spoilage, maple syrup is still good after its sell-by date. However, to really enjoy the flavor, it is best to consume your syrup within the recommended sell-by date.
The presence of mold on any kind of food is usually a clear sign of spoilage. When mold forms in your maple syrup, it is commonly recommended that you scoop out the affected part, reheat the syrup, repack it in a clean bottle, and continue using it.
However, if you notice mold, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard the syrup because there is no telling whether that particular mold is dangerous if consumed.
You already know how your favorite brand of maple syrup tastes. So, you can easily tell when the flavor goes off even slightly.
An off-tasting bottle of syrup isn’t always a sign of spoilage but it indicates a problem with the manufacturer’s processing. If you can, it doesn’t hurt to send this feedback to the manufacturer to alert them of any possible issues with their syrup-making process.
Maple syrup stored in tins for too long is prone to developing a metallic taste, so you want to watch out for that. Consider storing your syrup in glass bottles for a fresher taste.
Maple syrup is often graded based on color. Some brands offer a light amber syrup while others have a darker type. If your light golden syrup begins to take on a darker tinge, it could be a sign that the syrup has sat around too long and needs to be used up soon.
Of course, a change of color alone is not enough proof that your syrup has spoilt but if it has mold or is tasting off, it might be time to toss it out.
The formation of crystals on a bottle of maple syrup is normal and nothing much to worry about. With the high sugar content, the syrup is prone to crystallization.
This mostly happens if you warm the syrup in the microwave and refrigerate after use or if you store the syrup under direct light or heat, which will cause it to further lose any traces of water, leading to hardening and formation of crystals.
5 Tips To Store Maple Syrup
Like most food products, when exposed to air and moisture in the atmosphere, the color, texture, and flavor of maple syrup will begin to deteriorate. Not to worry though; here are a few storage hacks you can use to keep your maple syrup fresher for longer:
1. Opt for glass
Whether stored in the pantry or refrigerator, maple syrup retains its peak quality when kept in glass jars. Not only is it easier to sanitize glass; you can also easily check for signs of spoilage
Some types of plastic containers are porous and will absorb moisture and nearby flavor. This will increase the chances of mold formation and interfere with the flavor. Tin containers are also not the best as they give off a metallic taste.
2. Maintain high standards of hygiene
If you have maple syrup in bulk, you might want to divide it into smaller portions for later use. Be sure to thoroughly sanitize and dry the storage containers to keep mold, yeast, and bacteria at bay
3. Pantry storage
Maple syrup stores well at room temperature as long as the bottle is unopened. You can safely store your syrup in the pantry or kitchen cabinet away from direct light or heat. As mentioned, it is best to pack the syrup in glass bottles for peak freshness.
The ideal way to store maple syrup is to stick it in the fridge whether it is opened or unopened. The cool and dry environment keeps the syrup stable so that neither does it crystalize nor absorb more moisture than is necessary. If you opened it, be sure to seal the bottle tightly before storing it.
Freezing is the best solution for storing bulk maple syrup. We recommend freezing at -18oC for the best results. Remember to leave some space at the top of the storage container to allow for expansion.
Freezing will thicken the maple syrup and help to retain its quality. Stored this way, the syrup can last indefinitely but it is best to use it within one year to enjoy peak freshness.
The Risks of Consuming Expired Maple Syrup
Despite its long shelf life, opened maple syrup is prone to developing mold if moisture enters the bottle. In some circles, it is suggested that if mold forms on your syrup, it is safe to simply scoop it out, reheat the syrup and continue to use.
The kind of mold that grows in maple syrup is of the xerophilic species and in particular, belongs to the Wallemia sebi class. The Wallemia fungus has been found to have the potential for causing human health problems.
With his in mind, we strongly advise against consuming mold-infested maple syrup. You might have spent a dime and a dozen on your treasured syrup but it is never a good idea to consume food that has developed mold and this includes your maple syrup.
Can You Freeze Maple Syrup?
Freezing can extend the shelf life of maple syrup. However, you should keep in mind that due to its sugar content, the syrup itself will not freeze into a solid mass; instead, it will thicken and expand.
To freeze maple syrup, simply stick the bottle in the freezer compartment and freeze at -18oC.
If you have a bulk supply of the stuff, divide it into smaller portions in glass jars before freezing. If you do not have glass jars, stackable plastic containers will do just fine.
Do not fill the syrup to the brim; allow room for expansion to avoid potential explosion when the syrup expands in the freezer.
Be sure to tightly seal the containers or bottle in which you store your syrup. You want to keep air and moisture out to preserve the syrup’s freshness for longer.
For such a sugary product, maple syrup has a remarkably long shelf life. Properly stored, you can enjoy your stash for a year or two. Still, if you are going to open your syrup, you should look out for mold. Syrup may not expire per se but it is best to discard if it is mold-infested and treat yourself to a fresh new bottle.