Why You Shouldn't Try To Salvage Jam That Has Mold In It

It's a classic tragic tale: You head to the fridge with hopes of whipping up a midday PB&J, only to find that your jam jar contains something less than appetizing. To your dismay, accompanying the sweet fruity condiment are fuzzy specks of greenish-white mold. You may be tempted to simply scoop the mold out and proceed as if nothing ever happened, or you might even ponder what will actually happen if you ingest a few spores. However, when it comes to jams, jellies, and preserves, even a small bit of mold usually means that it's best to throw away the whole jar.

Certain molds, including the varieties that grow in jam and similar products, have the potential to produce mycotoxins. According to the World Health Organization, "mycotoxins can cause a variety of adverse health effects" that "range from acute poisoning to long-term effects such as immune deficiency and cancer." Even if the mold doesn't contain mycotoxins, it can still lead to breathing problems or worse if you have a mold allergy.

Moldy jam may contain dangerous toxins

There's also no way to easily tell how much of a jar of jam has been contaminated by mold. Mold works a bit like an iceberg, in that there's often more to it than what you can see just on the surface. Per the USDA, "when a food shows heavy mold growth, 'root' threads have invaded it deeply." This can cause the dangerous toxins produced by mold to infect the entirety of a piece or container of food. Given the viscous nature of jam and jelly, even if you are incredibly precise when removing mold from a jar, it's likely there are still spores hiding out and waiting to make you sick.

Considering the high price tag of certain jams and preserves, it makes sense why you would want to try and make the most of what you have. Luckily, there are plenty of easy jam recipes out there so you can easily replace moldy jam and save a few bucks. Just remember that throwing away moldy food isn't wasteful — it's the best way to keep you safe from toxins that could otherwise make you very ill.