When Does Homemade Canned Jelly Spoil?


Making homemade jelly is a labor of love that produces results far superior to store-bought varieties. After all the work, nothing is worse than having a jar of your special jelly go bad before you finish eating it. While many jellies will hold up for months without refrigeration, others begin fermenting in a very short time. With no expiration date, it can be confusing to determine how long your homemade canned jelly will last. Gain confidence in your canning skills with these guidelines on storing both opened and unopened jellies to promote long life.

Homemade Canned Jelly Storage

  • Once opened, the storage time of jelly varies greatly on the variety, its pH and the amount of sugar included in the batch. Some jellies are suitable for long-term non-refrigerated storage, while others begin fermenting within just a few days or weeks. For the best results and longest storage, refrigerate your jelly once opened. Use a fresh utensil every time you use the jelly to prevent cross-contamination and early spoilage.

Canned Jelly Shelf Life

  • Canned jelly is shelf stable for many years if a good seal is achieved. However, the quality is the best within one year of making the jelly. For the best seal and to prevent the growth of mold, use a boiling water bath to can your jelly, as opposed to less stringent methods like inversion or open kettle canning. Store your jam in a cool, dark and dry location to prevent discoloration and improve shelf life. Large temperature fluctuations should be avoided, since they cause the weeping of jelly and other quality issues in your stored jelly.

Canned Jelly Spoilage

  • Because of the high acid content of jelly, it is not at risk of botulism spoilage like many other canned foods. The most common spoilage that occurs in homemade canned jelly is due to mold and yeast growth and is easily identifiable. If your jelly grows any mold on its surface, discard the jelly. If it begins to ferment and has visible moving bubbles in it, discard the jelly as well.

Canned Jelly Storage Tips

  • To prolong the shelf life of your canned jelly, proper storage is essential. Exposure to light, moisture and heat must be avoided to preserve the quality of your jelly. Over time, your jellies will darken and the flavor will deteriorate; however, if properly stored, your jellies will often keep for up to a decade. To maintain a proper seal and prevent rust on the jar, remove the rings after jars are cool and do not stack jars on top of one another for storage.

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