Jellies, Jams, Preserves et al

Do the various fruit based toast spreaders you keep in your fridge go bad? I’ve never seen an expiration date on them and for that matter, that seem edible well after any other chunk of fruit would have long been growing fur and possibly legs. Is there a large difference in the “eat before it becomes poisonous” times of the different types (jellies, jams, preserves, fruit spreads)? And if it does go bad, why don’t they let you know?

“I guess one person can make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

I’ve seen fuzzy mold grow on antique jelly, but I think the high sugar content keeps most microbes at bay.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if I added bread yeast to my half-used jar of grape jelly; would I get wine pudding in about a year?

BTW - what’s the difference between jellies, jams, preserves et al? I suspect it’s the same as the difference between sweat and perspiration.

Jams are made with the whole fruit, mashed up nicely. Jellies are made after mashing the fruit and then straining it through cheesecloth, so that it’s pretty much just the juice. Preserves are fruits cooked with sugar so that they keep their shape within a jellylike syrup. Conserves are jamlike mixtures of two or more fruits to which nuts or raisins are usually added. Marmalades are like soft jellies with pieces of fruit or fruit peel in them, and butters are thick and smooth for easy spreading, make from fruit pulp and sugar cooked together, sometimes with spices, and then strained.

Sugar is a great preservative, and that’s why it does take a long time for these things to “go bad.” It will happen after a while, but it’s usually quite a while.

I do make the best strawberry jam in Southern California . . . same for apricot jam with apricots fresh off the tree. :slight_smile:


Who is NOT Straight Dope Staff

Siamese attack puppet – California

If it doesn’t gel, it’s jam. If it doesn’t jam. . .well, let’s preserve it.

And how come Melin hasn’t put Knott’s out of business yet?

Ray (Knott’s any o’ my business. And where is peergynt? That one was pretty suite once.)

This is straight from Hollywood, but I’ve seen a couple of instances where honey was used as an antiseptic. Antiseptic may be too strong a word – as a sterile coating, I guess. This lends credence to the “too sweet for germs” theory mentioned above.

I have no idea if this has ever been tried IRL. For that matter, when would you have honey and not, say, boiled water?

he sleeps on that pile/of newspapers/in the corner/and when he
takes off his/shoes you cannot/smell his breath
“king nicky”, archyology
Don Marquis

Funny you should mention the honey thing. I just saw this the other day:,2283,1757,00.html

Honey pops up repeatedly in trivia questions as the only natural food that doesn’t spoil.

Huh. For what that’s worth. I’l just be going now.

yet again with nothing to say

It’s not the honey that kills the germs, it’s the bear saliva.


It must be jelly 'cause jam don’t shake like that… ;}

“The dawn of a new era is felt and not measured.” Walter Lord

At least one national brand (Smuckers, I think) puts an expiration date on their jellies and jams. The jar of Bama jelly currently in my refrigerator has one, too (August, 01).