Honey through the Ages
What do a Georgian Noblewoman who lived 5,500 years ago, Egyptian King Tutankhamen who lived over 3,300 years ago, and a modern day prepper have in common? Honey stores!
In the southern Caucasus Mountains of Eurasia, a Georgian Burial Mound was discovered in 2003 when the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline was built. A rich young noblewoman was entombed there, with everything she would need for the afterlife. The 5,500 years old tomb contained the oldest honey found to date, and also gave the oldest indications of humans keeping bees! A 4,300 year old tomb since investigated has been found to not only have honey stores, it was used to help preserve virtually everything entombed. From the timbers used to make the burial chamber, cloth, baskets, nuts, and fruits that were embalmed with honey to help stop decay!
Before the Georgian tomb was discovered in 2003, the Ancient Egyptian tomb of King Tut was found to have perfectly preserved honey. Like the Georgian find, the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics show that not only did ancient Egyptians eat and use honey, they also kept bees.
If 5,500 year old honey is edible, the honey you bought two years ago is still perfectly fine. That said, 20 year old honey you found at the back of your mom’s pantry. Some of you may be thinking “But what about the use by date stamped on the jar?” While not required; if sold directly by beekeepers at farmers markets. Honey sold in stores must be stamped with a “use by” or “best if used by” date. It’s required by law, but in this case, not really necessary. When it comes to honey, you can just ignore it.
Survival of the Honey
A modern day prepper will tell you just that, “Just ignore it.” They believe in maintaining extensive stores of food and water/water purification means, medicines, and other items that may be needed in long term emergency or survival situation like a natural disaster. One of the food stores suggested is honey, since it does not spoil, and has some medicinal properties.
So, remember, honey may darken in color. It may crystallize. It does not do bad!
The inquisitive reader may wonder how can that be. Honey has an incredible make up composed of unique and complex combination of sugars, amino acids, minerals, enzymes, and hydrogen peroxide, all in an acidic, low water environment. This unique composition not only keeps honey from spoiling, and makes it antimicrobial. But we’ll talk more about some interesting uses for honey another time!
If your honey crystallizes, don’t throw it out. Simply heat it gently to re-dissolve the crystals, and it will return to it’s viscous, golden glory. If that’s too much trouble, use it as-is as a stir-in for your tea or oatmeal.
And remember, even though honey never spoils, it can make a child under one ill. Honey often contains spores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. While the spores in the honey won’t hurt you or me, they can make an infant sick.
National Geographic article on archaeological finding of a 4,300 year old Georgian burial mound .
If you would like some ideas to use up any old honey, you can check one of our favorite posts here.