Does Maple Syrup Go Bad? Shelf Life Explained

When it comes to sweetness, maple syrup and honey are like brothers and sisters. After all, we keep going back to them as a go to ingredients for our morning pancakes.

But, Does maple syrup go bad if kept in a glass bottle?

How long maple syrup will last depends on how well it is stored. If it’s in a glass bottle, you won’t have to think about it for years on end. In plastic bottles. 18 months to 2 years is what would be considered safe. In tin bottles, the shelf life is reduced to 6 months at most. 

How Long Does Maple Syrup Last?

If you have an unopened jar of maple syrup, it can last indefinitely. People have reserves of them tucked in their cellars for as long as 50 years, and they are fine. But the trick with maple syrup is to package it hot and let it cool down thereafter. 

You can compare the shelf life of honey with that of maple syrup only if it is unopened and in a glass jar. Once you open the bottle, its shelf life will drop drastically because of the ingredients of maple syrup. In that case, it should retain its quality for at least a year with refrigeration. It can last much longer as long as the ambient temperature is maintained. More on that later.

Maple syrups usually come with a best-by date printed on the label. That’s a federal requirement. While that date is a good marker to understand how long it will last, you can stretch it sometimes. Again, keep it unopened, and you are golden.

maple syrup bottle

This syrup is usually stored in glass jars, where you are good to go. But if it is in a plastic bottle, you are looking at 18 months to 2 years. With tin cans, the shelf life is drastically reduced to 6 months at most. In general, it is hard to chalk out the shelf life of maple syrup since a lot depends on storage methods.

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Does Maple Syrup Go Bad? How to Store Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup will last as long as you want to make it last. With most food items, you don’t really get a choice. After a while, things will decay. And that time is not long enough either. But with maple syrup, the case is different. You can extend its shelf life indefinitely if you follow the right storage methods.

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1. Room Temperature

There aren’t two ways about storing unopened maple syrup. A cool and dry place is best for its storage. For that, the kitchen cupboard for the pantry works well. Do not keep it in touch with heat or light. Leave it undisturbed, and it will be okay. 

2. Refrigerating

 If you have opened a bottle, seal it tightly and toss it into the fridge. This is where people often make mistakes. Keeping an opened bottle of maple syrup at room temperature is a recipe for disaster. The high sugar content of maple syrup is not nearly high enough to serve as a potent preservative at room temperature.

Having said that, if you are planning to store it only for a few months, room temperature works fine. I have had an opened bottle of grade-A syrup at room temperature for the last few months, and it is okay. A word of caution, though – do it at your own risk.

3. Freezing 

If you have opened the bottle and have to store it for a very long period- say a few years, freeze it. Pick a freezer-safe glass container or a plastic one. Leave out some space at the top since the liquid might expand when frozen. When needed, thaw in the fridge. 

Some people prefer freezing maple syrup as ice cubes in ice cube trays. This can make thawing easier by letting you take out only the amount you need. Regardless, freezing is an option but not a compulsion. Maple syrup has a decently long shelf life in itself and often stays just fine without freezing. 

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How to Tell if Maple Syrup Has Gone Bad?

You wouldn’t want to consume spoiled maple syrup without knowing. Here are a few tell-tale signs that can help understand whether your maple syrup is still fine.

Let’s take a look:

1. Visible Mold

This one should be pretty easy to detect. If your maple syrup looks fuzzy and green or light brown in color, mold growth has begun. Mold can appear subtle in the early stages of growth, so it is understandable if you miss it. But always do a double take and make a habit of glancing at the surface before mixing up the liquid inside.

Also Read: How Long Does Cantaloupe Last?

2. Foul Odor

If your syrup has gone bad, you can get an off-putting smell from afar. The smell will be musty, sour, or at times, even chocolatey. Always err on the side of caution. If the smell is odd, chances are it has gone bad and is best discarded.

3. Odd Taste

If you taste some syrup and the flavor seems off-putting, throw it out. You might get a cardboard-like taste, a sour or salty flavor, or a Tootsie Roll-like taste. If any of these happen, discard your syrup right away. It should taste like maple syrup and nothing else. 

pancakes with syrup

Why Should You Avoid Spoiled Maple Syrup?

Spoiled maple syrup might have mold, yeast, or similar toxins. Needless to say, they are never good news. Consuming maple syrup with mold can lead to a plethora of health issues like increased manganese intake. You can experience symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes, and headaches, among other things. I think it is safe to say if your maple syrup seems off, it’s best tossed out for good.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Can maple syrup grow bacteria?

Ans. Bacteria often affect the process of making maple syrup, right from the tap-hole process to the canning stage. Since sap has considerable sugar content, it can be a perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth.

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Q2. What is the GREY stuff in maple syrup?

Ans. The gray stuff you speak of is probably mold. Maple syrup mold is more common than people think. And it is especially noticeable in 100% pure syrup. The mold growing on maple syrup is of a rare kind known as a xerophile.

Q3. What color of maple syrup is healthiest?

Ans. Be it for use as a master cleanse or for topping on pancakes, the healthiest syrup is grade-A dark. It is packed with minerals and antioxidants. Lighter maple syrup is much less healthy when compared to its darker counterparts. 

Q4. Is it OK to eat crystalized maple syrup?

Ans. If you notice maple syrup crystallising, worry not, for it is still perfectly fine to consume. I suggest gently reheating the container till the syrup re-liquefies. Want to make it less messy? Try to heat a large bowl of water and keep the container of crystallised syrup in it.

Q5. Does maple syrup darken with age?

Ans. Syrup changes color with the progressing sugaring season. The syrup is light when the sap begins to flow. You get darker syrup soon thereafter. The latter has a much stronger flavor, though the quality and sugar content remains the same.

The Bottom Line

Maple syrup is a bold addition to any dessert. It has a distinct, strong smell and taste, and those are the selling points of the syrup. So, if you notice any change in its taste or smell, know that it is not safe for consumption.

If you wish to store the syrup for a prolonged period, consider freezing it. For consuming it in a few days, room temperature is fine. For a year or two, refrigeration is best. Decide on a storage method depending on your plans for the syrup. 

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Melissa Baker

Melissa Baker

I am a food lover and the founder of FoodQueries. I have years of experience when it comes to food. I have been cooking since childhood and I know a thing or two about storing, cooking and freezing food in the right way.