Keep these sweet toppings in their freshest state based on these insights from a food safety expert.  
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Strawberry jam
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What is breakfast toast without your favorite jam or jelly? Or that PBJ? It is no secret that jams and jellies are versatile, delectable spreads that can add just the right touch to anything from a stack of our Test Kitchen's Favorite Buttermilk Pancakes to a charcuterie board. Whether you make your own from scratch or buy one of these toppings, you'll need to store them properly to make sure they don't spoil. We asked a food safety expert to share the best storage method to preserve their freshness.

Where Should You Store Jams and Jellies?

If you just bought a jar of jam or jelly, you could keep it stored in your kitchen cabinet—as it is shelf stable until it is opened, explains Nicole Richard, a research associate and food safety specialist at the University of Rhode Island's Food Safety Outreach and Research Program. Sealed jars of homemade preserves can also be stored at room temperature. Once the jam or jelly is opened, however, it is best to refrigerate them. Richard explains that this prevents mold and yeast from growing. If not refrigerated, opened jams and jellies are likely to spoil quicker. "Storage of opened jams and jellies in the refrigerator slows the growth of spoilage microorganisms, therefore, extending the shelf life of the food," she says.

When to Throw Out Jams and Jellies

Since jams and jellies are acidic, Richard explains that the organisms of concern are molds and yeasts. You'll know it's time to toss your jams or jellies if you see mold, yeast growth, or other signs of spoilage. She notes that fermented-, alcohol-, or yeast-like odors coming from these spreads are also signs that they are expired. "Additionally, mold can send shoots down into the jam or jelly that are not visible, therefore, scooping out the mold is not a safe option," Richard shares. "The jam should be thrown away or composted."

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