Corn Syrup is the secret ingredient that makes so many baked goods chewy and sweet, but once that baking and candy making whim has passed, what do you do with the rest? Can corn syrup go bad? Should you keep the bottle in the refrigerator, or can you leave it in the pantry for a few months? This article should make that all clear!
What is Corn Syrup?
Corn syrup is a versatile sweetener made from corn starch that has been around since 1812. Because corn syrup attracts moisture from the air, this sweetener works well with soft and chewy baked goods. Corn syrup can also be used in frozen desserts to create a smooth texture, free of ice crystals, and can even make a great glaze for meats.
Can Corn Syrup Go Bad?
When corn syrup is stored under proper conditions, manufacturers state that the product will have an indefinite shelf life. This holds true whether the product has been previously opened, or not! Of course, should improper storage occur, corn syrup can eventually spoil. However, this should be a problem so long as syrup is kept away from moisture or any environmental contaminants.
Corn syrup will often have the manufacturer’s expiration date printed on the label. This is more to indicate the best time to consume the syrup for quality purposes, and does not indicate a date for spoilage. Syrup consumed after that date will likely still be safe for consumption, but the texture or taste of the product may have changed slightly.
Image used under Creative Commons from Jessica Merz
How to Store Corn Syrup
Unopened corn syrup can be stored indefinitely at room temperature in the pantry, or cupboard. Once the bottle has been opened, storing it in the pantry is still the preferred option, and will not reduce the shelf life, so long as the bottle remains tightly sealed. When storing corn syrup, be sure that the cap is clear of syrup or debris, and that it closes tightly. Airtight, moisture-free storage conditions will ensure that the syrup does not spoil.
Refrigeration is another option, if you are concerned about pantry space, or if you want a bit of extra assurance. While refrigeration will help to slow the growth of any mold or bacteria, the likelihood of contamination is low enough that storage at room temperature is completely fine.
Freezing corn syrup is not recommended, as this will not really increase the shelf life, and will only serve to change the texture of the product.
No matter where you choose to store corn syrup, the important thing is that it remains tightly sealed, to keep out any moisture or other contaminants. It’s also important not to use a utensil to scoop out the syrup, as this may introduce foreign food particles, and potentially lead to mold growth.
How to Tell Corn Syrup Has Gone Bad
While it’s unlikely that corn syrup will spoil, it can happen under certain circumstances. This is typically if the syrup is improperly stored, either with the cap open, or if moisture gets into the bottle. Improperly stored corn syrup can either grow mold, or begin to ferment. A visual assessment of the syrup can tell you whether there is mold present. Any mold indicates spoilage, and the corn syrup should not be consumed.
Fermentation is noticeable as well. If the syrup has begun to ferment, you will see tiny bubbles, or foam, in and on the surface of the corn syrup. If only a few bubbles are present, and you’re not sure as to whether the syrup has begun to ferment – smell it! If the syrup smells sour, yeast-like, overly sweet or alcoholic, it’s time to buy a new bottle.
Over time, you may also notice that the corn syrup will thicken and may even become darker in color. This is a natural occurrence, and does not indicate spoilage.