Who doesn’t love to spread a bit of jelly on a piece of toast? It is a fruity dessert that no one can resist and often pair with peanut butter to make peanut butter and jelly (PB & J) sandwiches. The best part is that it comes in all sorts of different flavours, from strawberry to grape and raspberry to apple.
If you are a fan of delicious fruit spread, you must know how to store it because it suffers from the same problems as other sugary foods due to its sugar content. Generally, when you think of jam or jelly, you probably think that storing it in the fridge is the safest way to keep it fresh.
But here, the questions are can you store jelly in the fridge, and how long does jelly last in the fridge? What happens if you don’t refrigerate it once opened? We are here to answer all these burning questions about the storage conditions of jelly. Let’s get started!
Can you store jelly in the fridge?
If you enjoy PB&J sandwiches more often, you may not have to worry about jelly storage. But if jelly is not sought fruit spread and you commonly keep it in the kitchen cabinet or pantry, you may need to learn how to store it properly.
Jelly falls into the category of food items that don’t need to be refrigerated, but you should refrigerate it when it has very little sugar or is made without sugar. Jelly made with no or little sugar goes bad quickly. When you make jelly or jam with sugar, you unknowingly add a natural preservative to it. So jelly made with no or less sugar lacks the preservative effect of sugar, and there is nothing to stabilize the moisture content of jelly.
So if you love its sugary version, you don’t need to be stored its unopened jar in the refrigerator. You can keep it in the pantry. However, the storage of an unopened jar of jelly depends on how often you eat jelly.
If you guzzle down your favourite grape or apple jelly every other day, you can keep it in a dry and cool place at room temperature. If you don’t eat it often, put it in the refrigerator, especially the one that contains less or no sugar.
Jelly that is already open can last about one month at room temperature. However, the shelf life of an opened jar of jelly in the fridge is six months to 1 year in some cases. On the other hand, an unopened jelly jar can be stored in the pantry and can last up to 1 year. The shelf life of jelly often depends on the amount of preservative and sugar content in it.
Jelly shelf-life depends on the ingredients.
Most people think the ingredients used to make jelly and jam are the same. Jelly is made from the fruit’s juice like you can make grape jelly from the juice of grapes. The principal ingredient in making jam is whole crushed fruit or fruit pulp.
The shelf life of jelly mainly depends on the ingredients used to make this sugary delicacy. The main ingredients of jelly are fruit juice, sugar and pectin. Sugar is used as a sweetener, but it also acts as a preservative that helps to maintain the moisture content and colour of fruit and prevent mould development.
Using a hot water bath for canning can last up to two years when stored in a dry and cool place.
The product’s shelf life is affected by various factors such as the amount of sugar, type of fruit used to make jelly, and preservatives. It also depends on how your handle the product, either commercial or homemade.
Commercially prepared jelly usually has preservatives and controlled acidity in addition to the standard amount of fruit juice and sugar. All these ingredients contribute to stability, prevent weeping and maintain its quality longer.
However, commercial jellies should be refrigerated once opened. On the other hand, homemade jellies don’t have mould inhibitors, so they don’t last longer than commercially canned products.
Different jelly ingredients and shelf life
The process of making jelly involves some basic ingredients such as fruit juice, pectin, acid, and sugar. You can use the fruit of your own choice, like grapes, cranberries, and raspberries. The fruit you use to make jelly may affect its shelf life. When cooked together, they thicken to form a little tart and sweet substance with a spreadable consistency.
Portions of the fruit, like core and peel, have been removed, so pectin is added to achieve consistency. Pectin is a natural fibre found in fruits that helps to solidify fruit juices. The fruit has a higher amount of pectin when the fruit is tarter.
Apples, grapes, crabapples, berries, strawberries and cranberries are commonly used to make jellies. The shelf life of jelly depends on the ingredients and storage conditions. For instance, the fruit you use to make jelly maximizes its shelf life. Similarly, if you store it in a cool and dry area, you can expect that it will last longer.
Here’s a detailed overview of different jelly ingredients and shelf life:
Fruit is the key ingredient to yielding better jelly. Always choose the high pectin, high acid and better quality fruit to make jellies such as blackberries, tart apples, currants, crabapples, concord grapes, cranberries, currants and gooseberries.
The more pectin content they have, the more smooth jelly you get. The type of fruit also affects its shelf life. For instance, an unopened jar of apple jelly maintains the best quality for about two years at room temperature when properly stored.
Use the exact amount of fruit to make jelly-no more or less. It ensures to maintain the balance between all the ingredients. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the fresh fruit to make your favourite fruity dessert, you can freeze the fruit juice and make it another day. The fruit juice provides the water source in jelly, and my supply is some or all acid or pectin.
Sugar helps to create gel texture by working with fruit acids and pectin. It also contributes to its flavour and serves as a natural preservative at a concentration of 55% by weight. It is also responsible for increasing the volume of fruit juice, setting the jelly and sweetening it, and preventing fermentation and mould.
However, using the exact amount of sugar is important for achieving the desired consistency. If you add too much sugar, it can result in stiff jelly. Using less sugar can keep it from setting. So if you like jelly with less sugar, use the recipe that is specifically developed to get your desired taste.
Using less sugar in jelly also affects its shelf life. The usual source of sugar in a jam is beet sugar or cane sugar. Some other sugar substitutes like honey and corn syrup usually mask the fruit flavour.
The most important ingredient in making fruit jelly is pectin. The jelling effect you love the most in jelly is due to pectin. Some fruits have more natural pectin, while some have less pectin and require added pectin to make jelly properly.
Partially ripe fruits have more pectin than full ripe fruits. That’s why some jelly recipes call partially ripe fruits. You need to supplement it with liquid or powdered pectin with low pectin fruits like cherries, fresh strawberries, and blueberries.
You can also add fresh lemon juice, which is a high-pectin ingredient. Some fruits have high pectin content that helps to form a pectin gel, such as highbush cranberries, apples, some plums, and crabapples.
The acid helps to thicken the fruit juice. Below pH, 3.5 is required in jelly making. Some fruits have natural acid. Fruits that do not have a good level of acidity need to be supplemented.
Lemon juice is a natural source to achieve a certain level of acidity that is critical to gel formation. However, you should be aware of the exact amount of acid used in jelly making. If there is too much acid, it will lose liquid.
How to maximize its shelf life
Preserves like jelly last longer if kept unopened. It usually stays at its best quality for about one year. Jellies are sold unrefrigerated, so you can store them in a cool and dry place in your kitchen. Suppose you store them in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower to make them last longer. You can store your store-bought jelly in the freezer to keep it fresh for longer. Jellies don’t lose their flavour and colour after being in the freezer for 12 months.
Another way is to store your homemade and store-bought jelly in a dark, cool, dry place like a pantry or kitchen cupboard. Another idea is to freeze your store-bought jelly to keep it fresh for longer.
Keep in mind that jelly does lose its flavour after being in the freezer for one year. It should be stored at 50°F to 70°F. It also helps to make the best use of fruit preserves that are getting close to the expiration date.
Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.
This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!