What do to with old jam/jelly.
I found a stash of homemade jams and jellies from two or three years ago (some may be from last year.) Must I throw the jam away, or can I salvage it? What would happen if I reboil the jam, sterilize the jars, and fill them again?
Goodness, no, don't throw them away. Some jams don't taste their best after a longer time on the shelf (strawberry springs to mind), but others "ripen" in a really delicious way -- marmalade, for instance -- after two, three, four years.
Jam/jelly never dies... it's got way too much sugar in it for anything nasty to grow. The only things that can go wrong with it are cosmetic - the water can evaporate out making it shrink away from the sides of the jar and get thicker, and the sugar can start to crystallise out of the suspension. If it looks fine, it IS fine. No need to toss it. Mama had a cool dark pantry full of homemade jams and jellies and some of them were in there for a decade (she didn't make it every year, just when she felt like it, and then she made a LOT).
If you really want to go to the trouble and would feel better about it, reboiling is fine - I did that to combine 2 apricot jams I had kicking around. Didn't sterilize the jar.
Where I come from, we scraped the mold (if any) off the top and ate the jam anyway.
Well, in some of the jars, the jelly nearer the top of the jar has changed color. It's gotten darker for the top 1/2 inch or so. But the smooth part of the Ball lids are still stuck down and haven't popped up, so presumably the vacuum is still intact or in place or however it should be described.
For years I tried using old jars with wax, but lots of my jelly went bad. Now that I'm using Ball jars with Ball lids, it's doing better. Thanks for the advice about going ahead and eating it. (As I say after eating something questionable, "At least we'll know what to tell the EMTs!"