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Does Jam Go Bad?

Does Jam Go Bad?

Pretty much every breakfast table in the US has a jar of jam. Jam is so popular as breakfast food – you have a whole aisle in supermarkets dedicated to this sweetness.

The jam tastes best with peanut butter, of course. Who can resist such a combination in the morning? We certainly can’t! 

Jam is made from fruit and now, you can buy jam made with pretty much any fruit there is. The local supermarket offers so many great flavors. So, you saw some on sale.

Stocking up on foods we eat on the regular is great – you always have that food available at home. But, you also save money when buying in bulk.

The downside to buying in bulk is that the food sometimes spoils because you can’t eat it all in time. But, what’s the deal with jam? Does jam go bad?

To find out does jam go bad, how to store jam, and more – read our article!

How Is Jam Made?

Jam may be very popular, but not everyone is completely sure what is the process of making jam. Well, let’s solve the mystery.

Basically, the jam is a cooked and jellied fruit puree. The fruit is mashed or cut into small pieces and cooked with water and sugar until it reaches a satisfying texture.

When cooking fruit, a compound called pectin is released and it helps the fruit reach a jelly-like texture. Some fruits have a lot of pectins naturally, but others require adding pectin manually to make a jam.

However, you should never mistake jelly for jam – there is a difference between the two. Jelly is usually soft and smooth, while jam has chunks of cut or crushed fruit.

A lot of fruit can be used for making jams like strawberries and other types of berries, apricots, plums, peaches, and so many others.

Jams are globally used more for breakfast, than any other food. Let’s check out the research from 2017 on global consumption of jams, jellies, and fruit preserves:


Does Jam Go Bad?

For those who are extra frugal (we hear you), or those who uncovered some jam in the basement from god-knows-when, listen up. Without any further ado, does jam go bad?

And the answer is: jam can go bad. We know, it’s not the best news but… that’s the way life is. No matter what you do, the jam will go bad, but on the plus side, it can last quite a while.

Sugar in jam acts as a preservative and keeps it fresh for longer periods of time. More preservatives are added sometimes, for extra-long shelf life. Also, jars are sealed shut during the manufacturing process – another point towards the shelf life.

Since homemade jam usually doesn’t have preservatives, only sugar, the shelf life is a little shorter. That doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of time to eat it!

Let’s check out the nutritional value of 1-ounce strawberry jam:

NutrientValueDaily Value in %*
Total Carbohydrate20g7%
Dietary Fiber0.3g1%
Total Fat0.02g0%

To get the most out of your jam, follow the guidelines in this article and the instructions on the label to avoid any unpleasant surprises!

The Shelf Life Of Jam

When out shopping for a jam, it’s really important to know how much time you have to finish what you bought. If you buy a dozen jars, can you eat them in time? What’s the shelf life of jam?

Jam usually has a sticker with a best-by or best-before date on the label. That date doesn’t mean that your favorite fruit spread will go bad after that date.

It’s simply a manufacturer’s guarantee that the food in question will retain quality up to that date. Afterward, the product may remain unchanged or gradually lose quality.

So, the jam won’t go bad after that date. In fact, your jam is fine for six months, up to a year after the best-by date. Some manufacturers state that you can push the best-before date for two, even three years, but we’d advise against that.

Jam doesn’t cost a fortune, and you might get sick from eating old jams. Why risk it?

For opened jars of commercial jam, you can easily store them for up to two months. Make sure to store them properly, though!

For homemade jams, the shelf life is around a year – if stored unopened. Some people say you can easily store them for a few years, but once again – why risk it?

Once you open them, you have around two weeks, up to a month to use them up. That is if kept in the fridge. If you keep the jam at room temperature, use it within two days for the best results.

Storing Jam

Storage is key to getting the most out of your food. Without proper storage, you might waste away food and money. To avoid that, read this section carefully.

Jam is pretty simple to store – there are just a few things to keep in mind. Unopened jars of jam should be stored in the pantry or the basement. Either way, a cool and dark place.

Make sure to store the jam on a shelf away from a window or any sources of heat like a radiator or air vent. Light or heat exposure could affect your jam and cause it to degrade in taste or quality.

If you’re low on space, even a kitchen cabinet could work, as long as you store it away from the stove!

Once you open a jar of jam, transfer it to the fridge. Seal the jar tightly each time. Something else we wanted to put an accent on is: always use a clean spoon to scope out jam.

One more thing: no dipping! Dipping bread or anything else will transfer bacteria inside the jar and could result in the jam spoiling too soon.

Has Jam Gone Bad? – How To Tell

So, you’ve found a pretty old jar of jam in the fridge. You’re probably wondering whether you should toss it or shrug and eat it nonetheless.

Well, you should check out the jam before you eat it. Eating spoiled jam can make you seriously ill!

So, open the jar and look at the jam. If you can see mold or any other type of growth or discolorations, the jam has gone bad, surely. The safest option is throwing it out.

However, if you see that the jam has darkened in color – don’t throw it out yet. This mostly happens with jams that are lighter in color – like peach and apricot jams. Why does this happen? 

Because that jam has less sugar or preservatives, the darkened color is more often found in homemade jams. This gradual color change is nothing to worry about – this food preserve is still safe to eat.

If the appearance is satisfying, do a little sniff test. If the smell is off or disgusting, it’s a sure sign that the jam has gone bad. Also, if the jam smells fermented or likes alcohol, the jam has gone off as well. Discard any bad-smelling jams.

On the other hand, if the jam passed the sniff test, get a spoon, and eat a bit. When eating a pretty old jam, you may find the taste a little bland. It’s still safe for human consumption, we assure you.

After a thorough examination per our advice, you come to the conclusion that the jam looks, smells, and tastes fine, it’s fine to eat! 

Does Jam Go Bad? – Conclusion

To conclude, jam can go bad. Thanks to sugar and preservatives, jam lasts quite a while.

How long to be exact? Jam is perfectly safe to eat for months after the best-by date. For homemade jams, the general rule of thumb is that jams should be finished within a year of post-production.

That is if stored correctly. Unopened jars should be kept in a dark and cool place – the pantry works best. Once you open a jar of jam, keep it in the fridge exclusively.

There is really nothing stopping you from eating that old jam, but make sure to check it out first. Examine the appearance, smell, and taste of jam – if everything seems fine, it’s breakfast time!