Can Jelly Spoil if Left Out?

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Jelly is a relatively stable spread that does not require constant refrigeration for its safety. However, it is recommended that jelly is refrigerated to extend its shelf life and enable you to finish a jar without the threat of mold growing in it. While an extended stay on the counter won't spoil your jelly, you should keep it in the refrigerator to ensure you get the most for your money.

Jelly Storage Basics

  • Once opened, refrigerate your jelly at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. While leaving it at room temperature will not cause the jelly to spoil, it hastens the end of its shelf life considerably. Mold and yeasts grow much quicker at room temperature, and when jelly becomes contaminated, storing it at room temperature can shorten its viability quickly. Store opened jelly, tightly closed, for up to one month in your refrigerator for the best quality.

Jelly Shelf Life

  • Before jelly is opened, both commercially made and home-canned versions can be stored at room temperature. Commercially made jams have a best-by date and a not an expiration date, meaning that the marked date on the jar indicates only quality, not safety. Homemade jellies typically have a one-year shelf life from the time of production. Store jelly in a cool, dark and dry location to prevent spoilage, seal failure or other damage to the jar that could lead to spoilage.

Signs of Spoilage

  • Refrigerated or not, jelly can become contaminated with microorganisms that lead to spoilage. Any mold growth in a jar of jelly is a prime indication that something has gone wrong. Discard any that contains mold; don't just scrape out the mold, which won't fix the contamination problem. Also discard jelly with moving bubbles or an unpleasant odor. Don't taste it first -- just throw it away.

Safe Serving Tips

  • Because jelly becomes spoiled through the introduction of bacteria and yeasts, practice safe handling guidelines when serving jelly to prevent spoilage. Always use clean utensils when serving jelly to prevent the introduction of bacteria into the opened jar. Spoon out how much you need at one time into a bowl and close the jar afterward to minimize contamination. Do not allow jelly to sit uncovered for periods of time on the counter or in the refrigerator.

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