Shelf Life of

How Long Does Jam Last?

Shelf Life of Jam
How long does Jam last? How long do Jelly, Fruit Butters, Marmalades and Curds last? The shelf life of jam, jelly or fruit butter depends on the best before or best-by date, the storage method, and the amount of sugar contained in the product. Jams and preserves, basically the same except preserves have chunks of fruit, are made with at least 45% fruit (most common is a 50/50 mix of fruit and sugar). Jellies are made with fruit juice and sugar so they have a longer shelf life than jam because they contain more sugar. Fruit butters on the other hand, often are made with little or no sugar (and they don’t contain any butter btw!) so they have a much shorter shelf life. Lemon curd (or any fruit curd) has the shortest shelf life because it is typically made with eggs and butter (both of which are dairy products and therefore decrease the shelf life). So, how long do jams, jellies, marmalades, fruit butters and lemon curd last? 

When properly stored; jams, jellies and fruit butters last for the time periods indicated in the table below:

Product Pantry (Unopened) Refrigerator (Opened)
Past Printed Date Past Opening Date
Strawberry Jam lasts for 6 Months – 1 Year 1 Year
Apricot Jam lasts for 6 Months – 1 Year 1 Year
Peach Jam lasts for 6 Months – 1 Year 1 Year
Blackberry Jam lasts for 6 Months – 1 Year 1 Year
Homemade Jam lasts for 1-2 Years 6 Months – 1 Year
Low Sugar Jam lasts for 9-12 Months 8-9 Months
Sugar Free Jam lasts for 6-9 Months 6-9 Months
Smucker’s Simply Fruit lasts for 6-9 Months 9 Months
Smucker’s Sugar Free Jam lasts for 6-9 months 9 Months
Welch’s Grape Jelly lasts for 1-2 Years 1 Year
Orange Marmalade lasts for 6 Months – 1 Year 1 Year
Apple Butter lasts for 2-3 Months 2-3 Months
Pumpkin Butter lasts for 2-3 Months 2-3 Months
Lemon Curd lasts for 1-2 Months 1-2 Months

Freezer jam last for 6 Months in the freezer and 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Of course, jams and jellies will last for a shorter period of time if they are not stored properly. But, like many other products, jam and jellies may have a best by date or use by date which is simply the last date by which a manufacturer will vouch for a product’s quality, not its safety.  Because of this distinction, you may safely use your jam, jelly or fruit butter after the best by date has expired but please enjoy before the eat by date.

How to tell if jam or jelly is bad, rotten or spoiled?

Beyond saving money, practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent food borne illness. With low and no sugar jams and jellies, you will notice a change in flavor as the product ages – it will taste tarter. The first sign of caution with most jams and jellies is when a liquid begins to form on the top of the product. It goes downhill quickly from there as the consistency becomes thicker and the color becomes darker. Then it can develop an unpleasant odor which is almost always followed by an unpleasant flavor and then mold. Once there is any mold at all present, the entire jar must be tossed. Mold spreads very quickly in a soft environment like jam or jelly, whether you can see it on the bottom of the jar or not. There are certain health risks associated with spoiled jam, so always remember to practice food safety and eat your jam or jelly prior to its expiration.

How to store jam and jelly to extend their shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of the jams, preserves, jellies, marmalades, curds and fruit butters. All preserved fruits should be stored in a cool dry environment not susceptible to temperature change.  When items go through temperature changes of cool to warm and vice versa, the moisture in the air tends to condensate inside the packages. This moisture allows mold to grow and your jam or jelly to spoil.
Refrigeration is highly recommended, but only after the jam or jelly has been opened and the freshness seal has been broken. In addition, you should always make sure to use clean utensils when serving jams and jellies in order to avoid cross-contamination.  
Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

Some interesting facts about the shelf life of jams and jellies:

  • All flavors of jam and jelly typically have the same shelf life.
  • Individual jam packets do not usually have a best by date, color is the best indicator when opening one of these packets (darker is older).

  • How long is Jam or Jelly good for when prepared in a dish?

    How long does jam last? That depends. How long does bread last? In general, jam lasts only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient it is mixed with. To find out how long those other ingredients are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or search below!

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    What are our shelf life resources?

    Our content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scour the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and the shelf life of jam, preserves, jelly, marmalade, fruit butter or fruit curd.

    *An important note about the expiration date of jam or jelly …

    Although the shelf life of jam information provided by Eat By Date is generally reliable, it is in no way intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified health care provider. Please eat responsibly!