Agave syrup has become a popular natural sweetener for baked goods and hot beverages.
As more and more people use and consume it, I wrote this informative article on the shelf life of agave.
As agave syrup contains a lot of fructose, a natural preservative in many food products, it doesn’t technically expire. If stored appropriately, agave syrup can last for many years without going bad.
Keep reading this article to learn how to best store agave syrup, if you can keep it in your fridge or freezer, and how to know if it has gone bad.
Does Agave Syrup Have an Expiration Date?
While most agave brands have an expiration date of about 24 months from the date of production, this sweetener doesn’t really expire and, if stored appropriately, basically has an indefinite shelf life.
This goes for both unopened and opened agave syrup, by the way.
Just like maple syrup and honey, agave syrup contains a lot of fructose. Blue-agave syrup (Agave Tequilana), the most widely distributed agave type, contains 56% fructose.
Not only does fructose make agave syrup about 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than conventional sugar, but it also acts as a potent preservative in foods.
Fructose is very hygroscopic, which means that it is water-absorbing.
This makes it an excellent humectant; a substance used to keep moisture in food products. That’s why your agave syrup is so liquid and smooth.
And as fructose binds the water in the syrup, there’s no water that bacteria and other microorganisms can use to grow.
Additionally, agave syrup contains some glucose, another preservative, and a sweetener of commercial food products.
Other than that, agave only contains water and small amounts of other carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
None of these ingredients can expire in the traditional sense, making agave syrup last forever.
If you store it appropriately, that is!
How to Store Agave Syrup?
If you want to make your agave last for several years, you will have to make sure that it is stored:
- in an air-tight container
- in a dry place
- and in a dark place
In other words, you will want to store agave nectar in a sealable container that doesn’t allow air to get in and keep it in a dry and dark place (like your pantry) at all times (unless you use it, of course)!
Exposure to air, water, heat, or direct sunlight can make any food go bad, even the ones with high sugar content, like agave syrup.
Oxidation occurs when oxygen reacts with food components, often producing undesirable color, texture, and flavor changes.
Furthermore, oxygen can enhance the growth of bacteria in foods, even if there’s lots of fructose in them.
If water gets into your agave syrup, it can also get spoiled, as microorganisms need water to grow.
Excessive moisture can also lead to the growth of yeast and mold cells.
And then there’s heat and direct sunlight.
Bacteria, in any food, can develop and grow the fastest in temperatures between 40F and 140F.
This temperature range is called the “danger zone” of food.
So, keeping your agave away from oxygen, water, and heat can make it last for many years!
How Do You Know if Agave Syrup Has Gone Bad?
Despite a low risk of expiration and spoilage, agave syrup can sometimes go bad.
Maybe there’s been a problem with storing it. Perhaps you bought a low-quality brand. Or maybe you’ve just kept it in your pantry for way too many years.
Either way, if your agave syrup has gone bad, you need to know about it, as consuming spoiled foods can be a hazard to your health!
Basically, there are four sure ways of telling if agave is spoiled:
One of the easiest ways to tell if agave syrup has gone bad is by smelling it.
Naturally, agave nectar smells slightly sweet and earthy. It’s a delightful odor if you ask me.
If, on the other hand, your agave syrup smells rancid or foul, or if you notice that the sweet odor is missing, you shouldn’t be using your agave nectar anymore!
Another sure way to know whether or not your agave nectar is spoiled is to taste it.
If it doesn’t have its sweet flavor anymore and instead tastes sour, bitter, or off in any other way, do not keep it!
And please only taste a tiny amount of your agave if you suspect it’s gone bad, and if it isn’t good anymore, spit it right out again!
If the agave nectar you have at home is discolored or looks watery, chances are that it has been exposed to water or another liquid.
And while a change of color doesn’t always imply food spoilage, it’s best not to consume it anymore. Better safe than sorry, right?
Mold or Bacterial Growth
While being the rarest of the four, this last sign is also the surest sign of spoilage!
If you detect any signs of bacterial, fungal, yeast, or mold growth in or on your agave syrup, do not consume it and toss it immediately!
GOOD TO KNOW: Mold in agave syrup often occurs in the form of hair or fiber-like spots or strings.
Does Agave Nectar Need to Be Refrigerated?
Thanks to its high sugar content, agave syrup does not need to be refrigerated during its entire shelf life.
However, if you live in a high-temperature environment or have a very high room temperature at home, it can be a good idea to put your agave nectar in the fridge! Especially if you plan on keeping it for many years.
Over time, warmer room temperatures can affect the agave’s flavor, sweetness, and overall quality.
On the other hand, refrigerated agave does not deteriorate like that and will keep its quality and flavor for longer.
Just make sure to keep it in an air-tight container when storing it in the fridge.
GOOD TO KNOW: You’ll also have to take it out an hour or so before using it, as the fridge’s low temperature will cause the syrup to harden!
Can You Freeze Agave Nectar?
Similarly to putting agave nectar in the fridge, it’s not necessary to freeze it!
Freezing your agave syrup won’t make it last longer, and really, all you get is a hard syrup that you won’t be able to pour and takes quite some time to thaw.
So, if you store it appropriately in your pantry or fridge, you can forget about the freezer!
However, if you still decide to freeze your agave, put it in a freezer-friendly, air-tight, and sealable container to avoid bacteria from getting in, freezer burn, and prevent the syrup from leaking out during its first hours in the freezer.
Trust me; you do not want to clean up that mess…