One of the dangers of doing as much preserving as I do is the number of open jars that are constantly in the fridge (jars from brunches, from tasting events and those jars holding the overflow from recent projects). No matter how much I use, there’s always a fresh flow of jam, fruit butter, chutney and pickled things rushing in to fill the void. Because I can only eat so much on a daily basis, part of my refrigerator management is making sure that I’m taking steps to extend the lifespan of my preserves.
Now, for those of you who live in bustling households where a jar of jam empties in a day, you might not be particularly concerned about this issue, but for those of us with small households (and partners who aren’t interested in anything having to do with fruit), preventing spoilage is a real concern. Here are a few things that you can do to keep mold and other funks at bay.
- Use clean utensils. This might sound obvious, but often, the temptation to dip into the jam jar with a buttery knife is there. Using clean knives and spoons every time you go for a dollop will keep foreign bodies out of your preserves and keep them fresher longer.
- Keep jars tightly closed. This is particularly true if you’re keeping fermented foods in your fridge. If things aren’t sealed well, you run the risk of having the fermentation bacteria leap from sourdough starter to jam. Not good.
- Label the jars with the date that you open them. This keeps you aware of just how long the jar has been opened and will remind you that the jar of peach jam from last summer should be finished before the more recently opened jar of cranberry jelly.
- Wash off dried, gloopy jam from the lid. I don’t have any scientific evidence here, but I have found that when I wash the lid of the jar, the preserve lasts longer. Less medium for the mold to grow, I think.
- Eat the fruit butters first. Sugar is a preservative. Because fruit butters typically have less of it, they just don’t last as long once opened. The same goes for preserves sweetened with honey. Eat them first.
- Consider canning in smaller jars. If you’re finding that you’re losing much of your preserves to mold, consider using smaller jars. This will mean that you’ll have less open in the fridge at any one time and so will be able to move through it at a more timely clip.
Do you have any other tips for extending the lifespan of your open jars?