Candy canes are one of the most recognizable symbols of Christmas. Seeing them in stores lets us know that the holidays are just around the corner. Candy canes also have special meaning in Christianity; some historians suggest that they represent a shepherd’s crook, as sheep are often pictured with a shepherd holding a cane to herd them. If you’ve ever bought candy canes before, you might have asked yourself, “do candy canes expire?” Luckily for you and your loved ones, candy canes don’t actually expire (at least not for many years). Instead, their shelf life is dependent upon how well they are stored after purchase. As long as they are kept in a cool dry place and not exposed to humidity or direct sunlight, they will last almost indefinitely. Read on to find out more about how long do candy canes last once they’ve been opened and what factors cause them to go bad sooner rather than later.
Do Candy Canes Expire?
Yes, Candy Canes do expire! I have had experience with candy canes Expiring. I purchased an entire box of Candy Canes and had them in my house for about a year before I used any of them. Once I began to use them, they started to turn a dark brownish color and lose their sugary crunchy taste.
What Causes Candy Canes To Expire?
1. Exposing Candy Canes To Humidity
When it comes to candy canes, exposure to humidity will cause them to go bad faster than other candies. If you store your candy canes in a damp or humid location, they will begin to break down and lose shape. When this happens, the individual pieces of candy cane will tend to stick together, making them difficult for children and adults alike to chew. In addition, the moisture in the air will cause the sugar coating on the candy cane pieces to become sticky and begin to melt away. When this occurs, you may notice that your favorite candies start to smell pretty bad.
2. Exposing Candy Canes To Direct Sunlight
If you store your candy canes in direct sunlight, they are more likely than others (including chocolate) to go stale or bad much faster than other candies that do not have an outside coating of sugar. Over time, direct sunlight will cause the sugar on your candy cane pieces to melt and turn your candy canes into a sticky gooey mess.
3. Exposing Candy Canes To Heat
If you store your candies in a place that is too warm, they will start to melt and become sticky as well as slimy. This will cause you to lose some of the flavor and texture of the candy cane pieces. If you are storing your candy canes in a hot area, make sure that they are stored in an airtight container.
4. Exposing Candy Canes To Oxygen
If you store your candies near oxygen, they will begin to deteriorate faster than other candies such as chocolate or hard candies. When this occurs, the sugar on the candy cane pieces will begin to crystallize, ruining their taste and texture completely.
5. Keeping Candy Canes In Dark Places
If you store your candies in a dark place, they will begin to spoil faster than if you keep them in an area that is well-lit. This is because the sugar on the candy cane pieces will begin to crystallize and turn your favorite candy cane pieces into a sticky gooey mess.
6. Exposing Candies To Heat And Light
If you expose your candy canes to heat and light, they will start to melt quicker than other candies. This is because the sugar on the candy cane pieces will begin to crystallize, ruining their taste and texture completely.
7. Keeping Candy Canes At Room Temperature
Candy canes should always be stored at room temperature (65°F, 18°C). If you leave them out at room temperature for too long, they will start to deteriorate faster than if you keep them in proper storage conditions. Once this happens, the individual candy cane pieces will begin to melt and lose their flavor and texture.
8. Keeping Candy Canes In An Airtight Container
Candy canes should always be stored in an airtight container to keep them fresh and to keep out moisture. If you leave them out at room temperature for too long, they will start to deteriorate faster than if you keep them stored in proper storage conditions. Once this happens, the individual candy cane pieces will begin to melt and lose their flavor and texture.
How To Store Candy Canes?
Make Sure They’re Fresh To Start
The first rule of storing candy canes for the long haul is to make sure that the candy inside is still fresh. Old candy smells putrid, but even if your candy canes smell good, they’re not likely to last much longer than three months. When a candy cane is fresh, it’s firmer and less sticky. This makes it a lot easier to unwrap and re-wrap. Ideally, you should try to buy your candy canes as close to Christmas as possible. If you’re not able to do that, then make sure to check the expiration date on the package before buying. It’s not uncommon for small-batch candy canes to sell out before Christmas.
Store In A Dry Environment
Candy canes are made mostly of sugar, and sugar likes to absorb moisture. If your candy cane stash is kept somewhere humid, it’s more likely to develop mold. To keep your candy canes from going bad, make sure to store your stash in an airtight container in a dry place. This can be anywhere from the kitchen cabinet to a cool, dry closet or basement—just make sure that it is not in direct sunlight. If your house tends to be drier in the winter months, you might want to store your candy canes in a humidifier-equipped room so they don’t dry out.
Keep Them In The Dark
Humidity isn’t the only thing that can go wrong with your candy cane stash. Excessive sunlight can cause damage to the wrapper and the candy inside the cane. It’s not uncommon for the white paper surrounding the candy cane to turn yellow if the candy cane is stored in direct sunlight. The discoloration is caused by a reaction between the paper and the cocoa butter in the wrapper. The same thing can happen if your candy canes are stored in a humid environment. To keep your candy canes safe from damaging UV rays, store them away from windows and direct sunlight.
Try A Dry Condiment Shaker
If you don’t have a large enough space to store your candy canes out of the elements, an old-fashioned salt or pepper shaker might be the solution. You can store your candy canes in the shaker, then shake them out as you use them. If you have a shaker you don’t mind getting messy, you can also try wrapping the canes in a paper towel and storing them in the shaker. Just make sure that the shaker has a tight-fitting lid so they don’t get dusty.
Use A Fragrance/Air Freshener Can
Fragrance and air freshener cans are designed to fit a lot of small objects. If you don’t want to buy a special bin or shaker, you can simply fit your candy canes into an empty can and seal it shut with a rubber band.
Try A Silica Gel Pack
Silica gel is a desiccant (a substance that removes moisture from the air) that can be purchased at most hardware or gardening stores. You can put a few candy canes into a bag with a few desiccant packs, and they will last longer than if you just stored them in an airtight container.
Buy Dried Oranges And Dried Apricots
If you have some extra cash and a lot of patience, you can purchase dried fruit and keep it in an airtight container. Dried fruit is one of the best ways to keep candy canes from going bad.
Buy Mushrooms And Onion Storage Bags
Onion bags are another great place to store candy canes. The bags are designed to keep humidity out and can last for years. If you want to go the mushroom route, make sure to get the bags and not the loose mushrooms.
Most candy canes will last for years, provided they are stored properly. To extend their shelf life, you should store your candy canes in a cool place, away from excessive light and humidity. If you follow these instructions, you can enjoy the best candy cane experience for many Christmases to come. For optimal enjoyment, you should eat your candy canes as soon as possible after purchase. This will let you enjoy their full flavor and crispness for as long as possible.