Does Corn Syrup Go Bad?

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You’ve probably seen the word corn syrup listed as an ingredient on a number of labels like candy, jams, preserves, jellies, sodas or juices, bread, baked goods, and a lot more food products. Corn syrup is what is extracted from the sugars in corn that is used both as a sweetener and as an additive.

Corn syrup is a viscous liquid that occurs in two forms, light and dark. Light corn syrup is colorless, transparent, and milder in sweetness than dark corn syrup. Dark corn syrup has molasses in it and has a much richer more intense flavor.

Corn syrup is not the same as High Fructose Corn Syrup. High fructose corn syrup has been further processed to break down glucose into fructose. It is primarily used in processed foods to enhance flavor and increase shelf life. Corn syrup is often swapped for maple syrup and can be used on pancakes and waffles, in homemade desserts, and in baked goods.

Unless you use corn syrup regularly, maybe in place of maple syrup, or if you regularly make commercial-quality baked goods, you probably have a half-full bottle of corn syrup in your kitchen. And the next time you reach for it, you’re probably going to wonder if it’s still good to use after lying around your pantry for so long. Let’s find out more about the shelf life of corn syrup and how to store it.

Does Corn Syrup Go Bad?

Interestingly, corn syrup does not go bad. Corn syrup has an indefinite shelf life, which means it can last forever. While corn syrup that is stored properly does not go bad on its own, there is a possibility of it spoiling due to external contaminants. If your corn syrup has been left open or some kind of contaminant makes its way into your corn syrup bottle, then it can go bad.

How Long Does Corn Syrup Last?

  • Corn syrup can last forever.
  • Whether opened or unopened, corn syrup has an indefinite shelf life. This means that while it doesn’t spoil on its own, it can get contaminated and go bad.
  • While, yes, corn syrup is going to last forever, it does not mean that its quality will not go down. Over time the corn syrup will lose its flavor, color, and taste but it will still be good to use and consume.
  • An unopened bottle of corn syrup will last in the pantry indefinitely.
  • Because it is so viscous, it is not recommended to store it in the fridge as it becomes too thick.
  • Once you open your corn syrup, you can still store it in the pantry. Just ensure that you close it tightly.
  • Many bottles of corn syrup will come with a best-by or sell-by date, this is an indication of when the product will reach peak quality. It does not indicate the date of spoilage. Corn syrup will be perfectly fine to consume, months or even years after its best-by date.
Type of Corn SyrupShelf life in pantry/kitchen cabinet
Opened or unopened corn syrupIndefinitely

How Best To Store Corn Syrup?

  • Corn syrup needs almost no extra work or prep to keep it safe and ensure that it lasts indefinitely.
  • Corn syrup has a pretty long shelf life and can pretty much take care of itself. But there are a few things that you can do to make sure that it doesn’t spoil ahead of its time.
  • An unopened bottle of syrup will last in your pantry or kitchen cabinet with no problem. Store the syrup in a cool, dark place away from direct heat and sunlight.
  • The most important thing to do to ensure that your corn syrup lasts is to always keep the lid tightly closed. The easiest and most surefire way for your corn syrup to spoil is to leave it open. Leaving it open even for a short time increases the risk of external contaminants entering and settling in the bottle.
  • While corn syrup is shelf stable, certain factors can accelerate spoilage or decay. Keeping it in direct heat and sunlight will make it lose flavor faster.
  • Corn syrup does not have to be refrigerated. Its highly viscous nature thickens the syrup even more. Then it becomes difficult to pour out.
  • Freezing your corn syrup is not necessary as it lasts just fine in the pantry and in fact, is best when stored and consumed at room temperature. But a new social media trend and challenge now has people freezing their corn syrup and then consuming it. Corn syrup does not freeze through right away, in fact, it becomes gelatinous.
  • So, if your do decide to freeze your corn syrup, it becomes like jelly and can just be squeezed out. You can also add food coloring to it to give you multicolored, frozen corn syrup treats. This has now become a popular snack on social media, but the high sugar levels that it contains are not healthy to consume in large quantities for an extended period of time.
  • Corn syrup is best at room temperature and does not require any extra storage except a tightly closed bottle cap.

How To Tell If Your Corn Syrup Has Gone Bad?

  • It can be difficult to figure out if your corn syrup is still good to use, not just due to it being transparent but also because it is shelf stable.
  • Corn syrup is not going to go bad on its own, but it can get old. In that case, it will lose its flavor and smell and it won’t be as potent or tasty over time.
  • Corn syrup sometimes will get cloudy or discolored, which is normal. This does not mean your corn syrup has spoiled. Just shake the bottle before pouring it out.
  • If you have left your corn syrup open, there is a high risk that it has been contaminated by some kind of external pollutant. Even something like water can spoil corn syrup.
  • If you see mold or some kind of growth on the surface of the corn syrup, then it has gone bad. Just throw away the whole bottle, you can’t scoop out just the spoilt bit and continue using it.
  • Corn syrup has a sweet and syrupy smell, if it smells off or bad then it has spoiled.
  • If your corn syrup bottle is puffed out, this is because of bacterial growth, throw it away.
  • Sometimes your corn syrup might have a milder smell and taste if it has been in storage for a long time, this does not mean your syrup has spoiled, it just means it has become old. It will still be usable, but it might not give you the taste you want.

Corn syrup is an easy ingredient to have in your kitchen. It can really help elevate a dish. The fact that it can last so long with no extra work, is just a bonus.

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