With the holidays only a pleasant memory are you left with a lot of leftover and
opened jars of jams and jellies? It happens. I am one of those cooks who finds every so often that there are five to ten different varieties of fruit jam, jellies or preserves open all at once. After a season of entertaining family and guests, you might have the same “problem” – what to do with it all before it goes bad.
How Long Does Un-Opened Jelly Last?
The best estimate of how long jelly will last, uneaten, is anywhere from one to twelve months. Bear in mind that sugar is a preservative, so sugar-free preserves don’t last as long before going bad.
Refrigerated jars of jam, jelly or preserves will last much longer than those left out with no refrigeration, of course, so – usually way over six months. This is common sense, I guess, but if it lasts over six months then either your family doesn’t care for it or you are buying and opening way too much. For those of us who don’t refrigerate just buy smaller containers.
What Makes Jam Go Bad?
It’s fairly easy to see when jelly, jam or preserves go bad. Look for mold – or anything else – growing on the surface, sides of the container or on the lid, an “off” smell or a color change. Any of these show up… toss it, there’s no saving it.
There are several things that factor into how long you can safely keep and use jelly, jam or preserves. Was it made commercially or was it homemade? You can’t assume commercial preparation is more sanitary than homemade, I once found a bird’s feather in a spoonful of a popular brand of strawberry preserves I bought at a store – yuck! Home prepared can be as long lasting as commercial if proper care is taken to keep everything sterile.
Opened Jars: What To Do With All That Jelly Before it Goes Bad?
Okay, say you do have to do something with all that jelly in all those opened jars, what can you do? Of course there are the jelly-topped cookies and tarts we all know and love, but there’s a better way for the frugal mom! Recanning jams and preserves is simple and quick, and you can use the smaller jars as gifts as well!
Sterilize small canning jars and lids while you reheat the jam or preserves to boiling. Then, pack the hot fruity goodness into the sterile jars and place a lid securely on it. Then, let the jar cool to room temperature and store it in a cool, dark place until you’re ready for more preserved jam. (Check to make sure there’s a seal, just like you were preserving it from scratch!)
Preserve Your Preserves!
There are lots of ways to enjoy preserves, jams and jellies and having a variety open all at once just increases the wonderful ways you can enjoy it. But if you happen to open a few too many jars at once, remember the many ways to use it or just re-can it for later.