I made a decent amount of apricot marmalade about a month or so ago and canned them in a clean and new containers and the lids appeared to be air-tight. A few days ago I opened one:

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I did a Google search and decided to toss them away. How could I prevent it? I also read about it, some people suggested freezing that doesn't sound like the best solution to me. What's your suggestion?

Ratio of apricot to sugar was 2/1 and approximately half of the sugar I used was light brown sugar. I'm not entirely sure but it probably wasn't hot-packing.

  • Did you do anything to sterlise the jars before use? "Clean" isn't enough, especially if hot-packing. What ratio of fruit to sugar (recipe)?
    – Chris H
    Aug 14, 2018 at 13:53
  • Please edit your question to include the recipe and how exactly you canned your marmalade, this will help to determine what went wrong.
    – Debbie M.
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:11
  • @ChrisH: No, I didn't sterilize the jars. I read a few articles about boiling the jars when they contain jam but didn't do it. I edited the question to add the ratio.
    – Gigili
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:06
  • @DebbieM.: Edited the question. I am not sure what you mean by "how" I canned the marmalade.
    – Gigili
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:07
  • 2
    @Gigili there are a number of things you can do, one of which is boiling the jars after filling (requiring specific jars, and the recommended method in some places. Heating the jars to ~150C in an oven before filling them with boiling-hot jam is another, and what I do. This hot-packing approach is normal in the UK, and works well if the jam/marmalade has enough sugar in it.
    – Chris H
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


There are two parts to the process of making jams, marmalades (and the like) shelf stable for extended periods:

The first part is the recipe - It must contain the correct combination of fruit, sugar, acid and pectin. (If the sugar ratio is not correct it may lead to mold or yeast growth.)

The second part is the canning - Using sanitized canning jars and lids, filling the jars to the recommended level (usually 1/4" from top) then processing in a boiling water canner for the recommended time for your altitude and checking the lids afterward to make sure they sealed properly.

In the case of your recipe, there was not enough sugar and no added acid. This probably would have kept for a while in the refrigerator, but not long term. Filling a jar and putting on an airtight lid does not make your jam shelf stable, there is still air in the jar along with microscopic microbes that can cause mold and illness. Proper canning will remove the air, creating a vacuum seal that can last for many years.

All that being said, I hope you are not discouraged by the above answer. Jam making and canning are not difficult, with a few proper tools and a good resource to learn the proper steps involved, you can be making all kinds of preserves that can last in your pantry for a year (or more).

To get started please check out this link National Center for Home Food Preservation - Apricot Jam. The website has tons of information on how to get started. Freshpreserving.com/canning-101 is also a good resource, but they do promote their own products.

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