Can you eat jam after the expiration date?

In this short guide, we will answer the question, “can you eat jam after the expiration date?”. We will also look at the likely physicochemical transformation that will take place in a stale jam, and the physical signs of spoilage to look out for. We will then talk about the shelf life of jam and how to store your jam to prevent early spoilage. Finally, we will give an outline of how to make a jam.

can you eat jam after the expiration date?

Yes, you can eat jam after the expiration date on the label. This depends on a number of factors such as whether the jam is opened or not and the storage conditions. An opened jam that is not properly stored will even deteriorate before its expiry date. Otherwise, expiry dates on labels are mostly regulatory formalities for some products.

How do I know if my jam has gone bad?

You can tell by using your sense of smell and taste to look out for some changes in the consistency, color, odor, and taste of the jam.

When a jam goes bad, usually there is a change in the viscosity of the jam. This happens when the liquid phase separates out from the other phase, in short, there is phase separation usually with a slimy watery substance on top of the jam.

When jam goes bad, it generally gives a foul smell. This happens as a result of microbial fermentation generating odoriferous molecules. This also affects the taste as substances such as lactic acid are produced through oxidation reactions. The generated products from fermentation alter the color of the jam as well.

Finally, the physical presence of mold on the surface of the jam is undeniable a clear sign of spoilage. 

How can I store my jam to prevent it from going bad?

Jam is best stored in a cool and dry environment. Home-made jam is best kept at 5 degrees Celsius or below. Keeping jam in a hot environment will accelerate its spoilage as the temperature will cause moisture to condense inside the container of the jam. This will create an optimum environment for microbial colonization and proliferation.

If you have opened your jam, then it is best kept inside a refrigerator and be taken out if only you need some and should not remain outside the refrigerator for too long.

How long can my jam last?

Jams bought from supermarkets can last about 1 year outside the refrigerator if the seal is not broken. Some properly homemade jams can last for even about 2 years if they are not opened. An opened jam kept in a refrigerator should be consumed within a month. 

What are the microorganisms that can render jam bad?

The microorganisms that can make jam go bad are usually mold and yeast. This happens easily when the seal of the jam is broken and the jam becomes exposed to these airborne pathogens. Molds are capable of thriving in the very acidic environment of jam, and when they do this gives way to bacteria colonization as well.

What are the steps involved in making Jam?

There are five basic steps involved in jam preparation from fruits. They include the following;

Selecting your fruits

Makes sure to select high-quality fruits that will contain the required pectin content for the jam. Note that pectin is very important when making jam because it gives jam its jelly-like property. Over ripened fruits are not suitable for jam making. 

What is pectin?

Pectins are polysaccharides with high content of galacturonic acids which are found abundantly in citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, grapefruit, limes, citrons, clementines, and tangerines as well as apples. It is abundant in the peels of these citrus fruits.

There are two classifications of pectin based on the number of methoxy groups in the esterified galacturonic unit. That is high methoxyl pectin and low methoxyl pectin. Each of them exhibits different properties when making jam and should be considered when choosing fruits for jam.

High methoxyl pectin is ideal for jam making because the sugars in the jam create an acidic environment. When this class of pectin is exposed to an acidic environment, it easily forms gel facilitating the jam-making process. Low methoxyl pectin instead binds to calcium ions to form a gel, the calcium ions for this can be obtained from the use of hard water.

Get your equipment set for the preparation

You will need the following equipment;

  • Preserving jars: Usually, screw-on lid air-tight jars are used to bottle the final product. You can also use old recycled jars but you have to clean and sterilize before usage to avoid possible contaminations of the jar that will quicken its spoilage. 
  • Jam pan: Look for a large preserving saucepan where you can boil the mixture for the jam. It should be made from stainless steel and should have a thick base to prevent uneven heating which can easily char the jam.
  • Food mill: You need a food mill to extract the puree from the fruits.
  • Funnel: You need a funnel to transfer the final jam product to the jar.
  • Thongs: This is needed to hold the hot utensils.
  • Thermometer: This is required to gauge the temperature that is optimum for the jam to become completely devoid of water and gels easily. This process is known as the setting point.
  • Muslin cloth: This is needed to strain the juice from boiled fruits.
  • Sealant: This is used to seal the jar of the jam thus protecting it from direct exposure to air. Waxed dishes and paraffin can be used for this purpose. 

Boiling the fruits

The fruits are placed in the large jam saucepan, and a reasonable amount of water is added. The fruits are boiled gently until they are soft enough to release the pectins and fruit acid in them.

Addition of sugars

White sugar granules are added to the mixture. The quantity is usually half of the volume of the jam mixture and also depends on the kind of fruits used. High sugar content fruits like mangoes will require less sugar. Usually, it is preferable to dissolve the sugar in warm water

It is advisable to take the jam off the heat and allow it to cool down small before the sugar solution is poured into it. This is to prevent the crystallization of the sugar during storage. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.

Boiling the jam

Put the jam back on fire, increase the temperature and allow it to boil until it thickens. How long this process will take will depend on the water content of the mixture. 

Ascertain the setting point: 

When the jam boils rapidly for say 10 minutes, use a thermometer to see if it has reached 105 degrees celsius which is the setting point. Or you can scoop a little onto a clean plate, tilt to one end and see if you will see any liquid phase separation. The absence of phase separation indicates the jam is ready.

Filling and storage

When the jam cools to room temperature, pour it into the jars with the help of a funnel. Seal with paraffin wax and cover the lid. Store in a cool and dry environment. Done!!!

Conclusion

In this article, we have answered the question, “can you eat jam after the expiry date?” We have also mentioned the signs that will help us determine if our jam is fit for consumption or not. We have also discussed precisely the general steps in making a jam.

We hope that this blog was useful to you, kindly reach out for further queries. Thank you!

References

http://www.eatbydate.com/other/condiments/how-long-does-jam-last-shelf-life-expiration-date/

http://sciexplorer.blogspot.com/2012/08/jam-science-first-let-me-be-clear-i-am.html#:~:text=Aside%20from%20 bacteria%2C%20jams%20 can,a%20real%20threat%20to%20jams.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-pectin-1327810

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.