A bottle of maple syrup can be expensive—especially if you're buying top-notch grade A syrup—and it would be a shame if any went to waste. If you're wondering how long syrup lasts and if it even goes bad at all, then read on. We consulted the experts about how best to store syrup and when to toss it.
Does Maple Syrup Go Bad?
The short answer is technically no, syrup does not expire. That's due to the high sugar content of pure maple syrup, according to the experts at Ben's Sugar Shack, who produce syrup in New Hampshire. This is the same reason why honey never expires; bacteria have a hard time growing in these high-sugar, low-moisture environments.
But one difference between honey and syrup is that syrup can get moldy after the container's been opened. This is because it has been exposed to mold spores in the air.
What To Do About Moldy Syrup
If you store your open maple syrup at room temperature, let it sit out for long periods of time, or just forget about it in the fridge, there's a chance it will grow a thin layer of mold on the top. Folks in maple syrup-producing regions have long felt comfortable simply skimming off this mold and proceeding as usual. This may very well be fine, but it's not what we'd call an official recommendation.
To ensure your moldy maple syrup is safe to use, first skim off the mold. Then heat the syrup to at least 180°F to kill off any remaining mold spores and bacteria. Strain into a clean container through cheesecloth and use or store in the fridge.
Does Pancake Syrup Go Bad?
Things are a little bit different if you're buying pancake syrup, not pure maple syrup. Pancake syrup is often a type of corn syrup that's been flavored. According to Karo, which makes corn syrup and pancake syrup, its high sugar content means it doesn't spoil and doesn't need to be refrigerated. It is also not typically susceptible to mold.
How to Store Syrup
According to the USDA, unopened maple syrup can be safely stored in the pantry for a year, but it will likely last for longer. After opening, move the bottle to the fridge to discourage mold growth. It will keep well for a year. That being said, maple syrup doesn't technically go bad, but your chances of it becoming moldy go up over time.
For longer storage, stick maple syrup in the freezer. It won't completely harden and will keep in the freezer indefinitely.
Pancake or breakfast syrup can be stored in a closed container, unopened or opened, in the pantry. It's best to use it within a year, but it will keep indefinitely.
A version of this article originally appeared on MyRecipes.com