Does Jam Go Bad?

With the holiday season drawing nearer, you can start making or hoarding jams! Jams are such a versatile ingredient; they can be used in cooking, particularly when glazing cured meats or adding a sweet finish to your favorite desserts. Thankfully, jams have a long shelf life because these products have gone through a stringent processing. But does jam go bad? What can you do to extend its shelf life?

If you bought jams in bulk at a discount, you have to store these products properly. Jams may be preserved in sugar but these are not impervious to cross-contamination as well as yeast and mold growth. You see, jams have high moisture content so they should be kept sealed after every use. That being said, the shelf life of jams also depends on its sugar content. Sugar helps preserves food so the more sugar that a jar of jam contains, the longer the shelf life.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Jams, just like fruit preserves, are often made with 45% fruit and 55% sugar. However, some products contain an equal ratio of fruit and sugar so check the label.

Generally, you want to consume a jar of jam as soon as possible for optimal flavor and freshness. If that’s not possible, we highly suggest incorporating jams to everyday desserts and perhaps, morning meals, to use up your stash as quickly as possible. The rest can be stored for future enjoyment.

How to Store Jams?

Storing Jams in the Pantry

The best way to store unopened or sealed jars of jams is in the pantry. This goes for store-bought and homemade jams alike. Ideally, store the product in a cool, dry place away from sources of heat, light, and moisture. Remember, jams are prone to mold and yeast growth so we do not recommend storing a jar of it on the kitchen counter or in a spot that attracts moisture. If you can store the jams in a dark place, go for it. Exposure to light and heat could degrade the jam quickly, which may affect its flavor, consistency, and appearance. Keep this product away from windows, near the stove, and other spots in the kitchen where the temperature is unstable.

Storing Jams in the Refrigerator

Once a jar of jam has been opened, it has to be stored in the refrigerator. The chilly temps will help extend the quality of the product, which could degrade when exposed to the elements. No additional prep is needed to store jars of jams in the fridge. Just make sure to close the container after every use.

Should you freeze jams? We do not recommend storing jams in the freezer. The freezing temperature is likely to alter the consistency of the jam. Thawing the jam could also turn to a watery mess. You are better off consuming your supply as soon as possible as opposed to stashing the rest of your supply in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Shelf Life of Jams

Store bought and unopened jars of jams should keep in the pantry for a year or so. On the other hand, homemade jars of jams will keep for less than a year just because these products do not contain preservatives. Opened jars of jams that are refrigerated will only keep for a maximum of 6 months.

How to Tell if Jam Has Gone Bad?

It’s hard to tell at first if a jar of jam is no longer safe to eat if there are no physical signs of spoilage, like changes in color or consistency. However, jams that have been kept for too long will develop a tart taste. In addition, it will develop a liquid-y film at the top of the jam. If the jam has turned a darker shade or if the consistency becomes thicker, discard the product right away. If you are seeing the presence of mold growth, toss the product in the trash.


Whether spread on a toast or piled generously on cakes and other desserts, jams add a touch of fruity sweetness to your favorite treats! Does jam go bad? Jam has a long storage life but it will go bad at some point. That’s why proper storage is important to extend the product’s shelf life. We hope that with these tips, you can maximize your supply.