How Long Is Jelly Good For After Opening It?

Jelly is one of the most versatile spreads to have on hand. Jelly's classic flavors satisfy sweet cravings and can add a tart bite to savory dishes. However, as with many condiments, it's not often finished quickly once opened. Luckily, depending on whether you canned it at home or bought it from the store, the shelf life of jelly is pretty long.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all properly canned foods will generally last 12 months in the pantry unopened as long as they are stored in a dark spot. Once opened, you can safely keep jelly in the pantry at room temperature for about one week. Jelly is full of sugar, a natural preservative, and when high sugar content is coupled with high acidity, it's much harder for mold and bacteria to thrive. Unfortunately, there are still microorganisms accustomed to sugar that will develop over time. To extend the growth time of bacteria and avoid the separation of ingredients, it's best to include jelly along with other foods you should be refrigerating.

How to tell if jelly is spoiled

Opened jellies will stay fresh for about six months in the refrigerator, but production methods affect how long they will last in the fridge. When you make a "quick jam" that skips the canning process, you should consume it within 10 days or freeze it for up to three months. If you go for store-bought options, expect more mileage from the recommended six-month window due to fewer fresh ingredients and high sugar content. If you make homemade jelly, pay close attention to its fresh ingredients and typically low sugar content. Despite popular belief, an extra sprinkle of sugar on top will not extend its life, so watch for signs of spoilage.

If jelly turns a darker color or develops white patches, toss it. If it looks okay, check for sour, yeasty smells and a vinegary flavor. Those are all signs that it has overstayed its welcome. If nothing seems out of the ordinary, it's most likely fine. As long as you follow the proper storage protocol, you should be able to savor the last bit of your open jelly for a few more months.