Does Maple Syrup Actually Expire?

Out of all of the sweeteners available in today's world, both artificial and natural, maple syrup is still a clear favorite among many. With an enticing amber hue, a smooth, sticky mouthfeel, and a rich sweetness that nothing else can quite imitate, there are many classic and unconventional uses for maple syrup — from coating a towering stack of fresh buttermilk pancakes to elevating your morning cup of coffee. For these reasons and so many more, it is always a great idea to keep a bottle of the stuff on hand in your kitchen; however, be aware that maple syrup doesn't last forever.

You may not expect it to due to its long shelf life, but maple syrup does, in fact, expire. Like most other foods, it can be exposed to bacteria and other pathogens once its seal is broken, leading to a decline in the syrup's quality and causing it to spoil. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), maple syrup will last unopened for about one year, and for an additional year after it has been opened – if refrigerated. After this point, it is best to consider the syrup expired.

How to store maple syrup

In order to ensure your maple syrup has as long a shelf life as possible, it is important to be sure that you are storing it properly. When putting away an unopened bottle, be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place like your pantry. Meanwhile, syrup that has been opened should be kept in the fridge to slow its expiration. If you are really keen on extending the length of time you can use your maple syrup, another viable option is to keep it in the freezer, where it can last almost indefinitely. Since maple syrup doesn't freeze, you can use it conveniently without wasting any time waiting for it to thaw.

Even with these precautions, we recommend checking your syrup for signs of spoilage before using it to prevent yourself from ingesting anything that could make you sick. Primary indicators of expired maple syrup are visible mold growth or significant color change. Additionally, keep an eye out for odd smells that would indicate the presence of other contaminants at work. If you find any of these traits to be true of your syrup, it's best to discard it.