General Question

flo's avatar

What do honey, peanut butter have in common that keeps them from spoiling?

Asked by flo (13313points) January 29th, 2015

Also what other food items don’t spoil?

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27 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Top Ramen rarely expires.

rojo's avatar

Well, in my house they don’t last long enough for spoilage to be a problem.

rojo's avatar

Pffffffffft! Ramen noodles!

@flo asked about food.

flo's avatar

@talljasperman I don’t know if it has nutritional value though
@rojo You mean people everything in sight? But what if spoilage were to become a problem in your house, you never know, ...

fluthernutter's avatar

Peanut butter does go bad.

Honey doesn’t go bad because it’s hygroscopic. Meaning molds and bacteria can’t grow on it because honey sucks the moisture out of their surroundings.
That’s how I understand it anyways.

rojo's avatar

Doesn’t PB have about a two year shelf life? I assume it is the oil that turns.

janbb's avatar

@fluthernutter I’ve had peanut butter jars that are around for over a year and don’t go bad.

fluthernutter's avatar

@janbb Peanut butter has a long shelf life. But it can definitely go bad. It oxygenates. So if you don’t open it very often it might last longer.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Peanut butter will go rancid if left long enough. Highly processed peanut butter (e.g., Kraft) will take longer.

To answer the question, they actually have very little in common.

CWOTUS's avatar

Supposedly, you could even store opened mayonnaise jars at room temperature, just as most people do with peanut butter and honey. With mayo, it’s the acid content that makes it “normally safe”. The mistake that people make in thinking that mayo is the culprit for bad potato salad or tuna salad, etc. is the potato or the tuna, not the mayo itself. One thing that can spoil the good storage capability of mayo is using soiled utensils to scoop it from the jar. That introduces food particles – and outside bacteria – into the normally safe medium. Do that often enough, and you’ll create pockets of festering microbes with a decent non-acidic food supply, and turn safe mayo bad. (Potatoes are notoriously unsafe, especially baked potatoes served “warm” at restaurants in their customary tinfoil jackets. When they’re baked and then just kept warm – not hot – prior to serving, the tinfoil jacket and the potato’s own moisture create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. And if the thing is left that way for several hours after baking, which is also “normal bad practice” for many restaurants, then it’s an ideal gastronomic weapon.)

thorninmud's avatar

The common factor is a low water activity level. This is a measure of the amount of water in a substance that’s not bound up, and so is available to sustain microbial growth.

Peanut butter has next to no water in it. Honey has water, but it’s mostly bonded to all that sugar.

filmfann's avatar

Peanut butter has a long shelf life, but will spoil after a few years. Jars of honey have been been found in archeological sites, and were still edible.

ibstubro's avatar

Thanks, @fluthernutter, I was waiting for someone to say that peanut better does go bad. First it gets an earthy, dusty smell.

Like @rojo, I believe it’s the oil that turns. Seems honey must be ideal because it doesn’t offer moisture to bacteria and doesn’t have oil to oxygenate.

Heather13's avatar

Its probably because they are not very processed and most people keep honey and peanut butter from getting water in them.

flo's avatar

Thank you everyone. I don’t know where I got that peanut butter doesn’t go bad. But if it takes years to go bad it is still good enough. How about unprocessed food items like peas, rice that don’t go stale?

janbb's avatar

I’ve never had rice go bad unless buggies get into it and I would think the same for dried legumes.

flo's avatar

@janbb I thought so. But I know Almonds go stale, although it is a seed.

Speaking of bugs, what is the name of the bug that loves flour, salt, cereal, baking powder, etc.? (edited)

I just read that brown rice has fat, which is funny to me.

janbb's avatar

The ones I had were called grain bugs.

flo's avatar

I think they have another name as well.

By the way I didn’t mean above, that I believe that peas don’t go stale, my sentence looks grammatically incorrect.

talljasperman's avatar

Unpopped pop corn can last a long time.

flo's avatar

@talljasperman Good to know, although I am looking for necessity foods.

talljasperman's avatar

@flo Beef jerky can last a long time. Also canned goods can last a year.

ibstubro's avatar

Weevils is what we call the infesting bugs. Usually meal moth larvae.

Reading a bit about Indian Meal Moths can put the fear in you. I came near to an infestation from bird food and the descriptions of the ceiling covered in pupae set me an a quick and thorough course. I just bought a new set of Pantry Pest Traps and never go without them.

ibstubro's avatar

And another thing to add to the discussion is packaging.

Obviously something that is professionally vacuum packed will last a lot longer than, say, nuts in a bag.

talljasperman's avatar

Astronaut / military food can last.

flo's avatar

Thank you @ibstubro

@talljasperman for sure. I am looking for a list as in the one about the “dirty dozen”: for example. Edited to add: As an aside, they have 50 on the list but only the first 12 or so are the worst the ones at the bottom are the best, as in nothing to worry about. I don’t like it they have them on the same list. I like it better like here

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