maple syrup shelf life

Maple Syrup Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

It’s Sunday morning, and you’re craving for freshly baked pancakes with drizzles of maple syrup. Sadly, you’re not sure if your Grade A maple syrup is still good to use.

It’s been staying in the fridge, but you have no idea since when. So, you’re wondering: Does maple syrup go bad? How do you know if maple syrup is already bad?

If pancakes or French toast served with maple syrup is not your regular menu, it takes a while to finish off a bottle of maple syrup. It breaks your heart just having the thought to toss a half-full bottle since it is quite pricey.

Don’t panic. In this article, we break down maple syrup’s shelf life, storage tips, and common signs of maple syrup going bad. Sounds interesting? Keep reading!

How To Store Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a pantry staple for those living in North America, and also a popular sweetener across the globe. It is commonly drizzled on top of pancakes and French toast, as well as used as an ingredient for baking.

Maple syrup is produced by boiling down the sap of maple trees until it reaches a thick syrupy consistency. In Canada and the US, maple syrup production is heavily regulated to maintain quality standards. It is graded based on color and taste. The lighter the liquid, the higher the grade.

Storage guidelines for maple syrup are pretty much the same as other liquid sweeteners, such as corn syrup or golden syrup.

As long as unopened, a bottle of maple syrup can safely sit at room temperature or lower, more precisely at a cool, dark, dry place. As usual, your pantry is the ideal place. But, a kitchen cabinet or cupboard works as great.

After opening, maple syrup is best kept refrigerated. Refrigeration can preserve its flavor and prevent mold growth. Don’t forget to close the lid when not in use.

However, if maple syrup is your daily sweetener, it should be fine to keep it somewhere in the kitchen for a few months. Just make sure to pick a cool and dry spot.

Can you freeze maple syrup?

Pure maple syrup will not freeze. Therefore, the freezer is an excellent spot to store it for a long term period or indefinitely.

How Do You Tell If Maple Syrup Is Bad?

Although maple syrup can be kept indefinitely, the quality can drop when stored for too long. It depends on the initial quality and storage conditions.

Liquid discoloration is a sign that maple syrup is showing quality degradation. After a while in your storage, the liquid is getting darker, particularly when packed in a plastic container. At some point, you may notice that the taste is flat or not as great as it used to be.

Sometimes you can also see cloudy sediment on the bottom of the container. Don’t worry, your syrup is not spoiled. Instead, this sediment is niter or sugar sand, which is harmless. You can easily filter it out or carry on as is if you don’t mind.

Maple syrup doesn’t necessarily go bad as meat or milk does. The chances of maple syrup going bad are very slim, but it still can spoil.

The main culprits are water and dirty containers. Such circumstances support the growth of bacteria, molds, or yeast. If you find signs of microbial growth in the container or smells a foul odor, it is best to discard the syrup.

Although some people recommend scraping out the molds and boiling the syrup, we can never assure its safety. Some molds produce toxins that can harm our health in the long run. So, let’s just stay on the safe side. (*)

How Long Does Maple Syrup Last?

Maple syrup is typically packaged in either glass or plastic bottles. Glass bottle performs better in maintaining its quality. Unopened glass bottles can stay up to 4 years.

Meanwhile, when packed in plastic containers, it keeps for 2 years. After opening, the syrup stays for about one year in the refrigerator. (*)

If you are not a regular user, know that keeping maple syrup in the freezer will prolong its shelf life for a much more extended period, almost indefinitely. Pure maple syrup will not freeze, therefore, the freezer is a perfect place for long term storage.

Pure Maple SyrupPantryRefrigeratorFreezer
Maple syrup (unopened) (glass bottle)4 yearsIndefinitely
Maple syrup (unopened) (plastic bottle)2 yearsIndefinitely
Maple syrup (opened)1 yearIndefinitely

This table is for a rough estimate for the best quality. The actual shelf life depends on a large extent to the preparation methods and storage conditions. If the container is not clean or water gets into the container, bacteria and fungi can grow during storage. 


Is it safe to use expired maple syrup?

Maple syrup keeps well for years. As long as you give it proper storage and the package is undamaged, it should be fine to use. However, you should expect a little change in flavor or consistency.

So, take this precaution into account before pouring it into your pancake. Better yet, give it a thorough check and taste test to decide if it’s still worth keeping.

What happens if you don’t refrigerate maple syrup?

Unopened bottles of maple syrup stand well at room temperature. However, it is highly recommended to refrigerate it after opening to prevent the syrup from getting moldy.

What are substitutes for maple syrup?

You can find a bunch of alternatives for maple syrup that you can find in your pantry. It can be honey, molasses, agave nectar, brown sugar syrup, or corn syrup. Although each of these substitutes may add a different flavor, it works pretty well for a recipe.

Final Thoughts

Maple syrup is definitely a must-have sweetener if you live in North America. Although this liquid sweetener can last indefinitely, there is still a chance for spoilage.

Unopened maple syrup can be kept in the pantry or kitchen cupboard. Meanwhile, refrigeration is highly recommended after opening. After a while, you may notice a drop in flavor or taste. Keeping maple syrup in the freezer is also a good option for much longer storage.

Always keep the bottle tightly closed after each use and practice good hygiene. When excess water or dirt gets into the container, microbial spoilage is inevitable.

If you see visible molds or smell a foul odor, it’s best to toss the syrup. You can also use these maple syrup substitutes if you need to.

Up Next: How Long Does Corn Syrup Last?

maple syrup goes bad

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