If you think Jello can’t melt, then think again! There’s nothing worse than putting your time into crafting the perfect gelatin dessert, only to have it melt before you even get to enjoy it.
Does Jello melt? Jello can melt in warm conditions and can even become runny. If the temperature is high enough (usually around 122°F), then Jello may even revert to liquid form! But don’t worry — it should go back to a semi-solid state once it cools down, although it may not retain the same shape.
Read below to learn more about melting Jello, what happens when it melts, how to reset it, and how to prevent it from melting in warm conditions.
There’s Always Room For Jell-O!
Jell-o is a popular brand that produces flavored gelatin products. The brand is a part of North America’s pop culture and is one of the most recognizable names in the world.
But what is Jello, exactly? In simple terms, Jello is a mixture made from gelatin, a protein that is derived from animals.
That’s right, jelly is basically extracted from boiling the gelatin-laden bones and skin of animals. At least, that’s how the majority of it is made!
Some varieties are vegan-friendly and are derived from plant-based gums or seaweeds like agar or carrageenan.
Properties Of Jello
Jello has a very interesting property: it can go from a liquid to a semi-solid substance that is tender, bouncy, and delicious — and it can even go back in reverse!
In scientific terms, Jello is a “thermoreversible” substance that can perfectly transition from one state to another without losing its main characteristics.
Before we get into melting Jello, let’s first discuss how it is made. This will help you understand the science behind melting and resetting Jello too!
How Jello Is Made
The journey of Jello starts at the meat factory, where the bones and skins of pork and cows are collected and boiled. When boiled, the gelatin in the bones detaches and mixes in with the water, giving it a jelly-like finish as it cools down.
This is the same effect that you will usually see when you make bone broth at home. Notice how bone broth becomes like jelly when it’s cooled in the fridge? That’s the basis of Jello right there!
Of course, the gelatin has to be treated several times to give it a neutral flavor. After the gelatin has been processed, it is mixed with coloring and flavorings, and the mixture is then dehydrated.
The company can choose to either sell the dehydrated form of Jello, which is a powdered substance that needs to be rehydrated with warm and cold water, or they can choose to sell different flavors of pre-packaged Jello goods.
Both types have the same properties but are prepared slightly differently.
How Jello Sets
Setting Jello requires a mixture of warm and cold temperatures.
See, when the gelatin is in its dry, powder state, it requires hot water to “wake up” the gelatin molecules. As soon as you add hot water, the gelatin molecules hydrate and begin to loosen and stretch.
You might not immediately notice this, especially when the mixture is hot, but the gelatin will slowly start to build bonds with other gelatin molecules in the mixture.
To speed up the process and to immediately set the Jello, an equal portion of cold water is added — this keeps the gelatin from becoming too loose and also helps to set it.
The mixture is then stored in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours until it sets completely.
Why Jello Melts
As explained, Jello isn’t permanently set once it has cooled down.
It can go out of shape and can even melt if it is introduced to a warm environment. This is one of the reasons why it isn’t paired with hot pastries and desserts!
Also, ever wondered why pre-packaged Jello products are sold in pretty molds? It’s not all for show!
When transporting Jello, the gelatin can be exposed to varying temperatures. This means that during a particularly hot day, Jello can “loosen” and take on a partial liquid form.
But as soon as the Jello arrives in stores, it sets back perfectly, since it is already in a mold!
Jello melts at roughly 122°F, and if you live in a warmer climate or a state with recorded high temperatures like Minnesota, Florida, or Hawaii then you can easily notice this phenomenon on a hot summer day!
At high temperatures, Jello can take about a couple of seconds to melt. But there is a limit to how high you can go.
Jello has a naturally low melting point — if you expose it to boiling temperature for too long, then it might lose its thermoreversible properties.
In other words, it will burn and be unable to fully go back to its semi-solid form.
Jello Characteristics At Different Temperature
Here is a chart showing the temperature and corresponding melting characteristics of Jello:
|95°F||Jello starts to become runny. Will take around 5 minutes to melt.|
|122°F||Jello begins to melt. Will take 1-2 minutes to fully melt.|
|212°F||Jello begins to burn. Will melt and burn within 10-30 seconds.|
How To Prevent Jello From Melting
It’s easy enough to make Jello, but it is pretty time-intensive.
While you might be able to salvage melted Jello, sometimes you have to scrap the whole batch. This means you’re not only wasting ingredients — you’re wasting hours of your precious life.
The last thing you want is for your Jello to melt on the way to a party! Here are a few things to keep in mind when transporting or working with Jello.
Do Not Keep It In A Hot Car
A hot car can spell disaster for Jello because the interior cabin can easily reach very hot temperatures, especially if it is parked outside on a hot, sunny day without shade.
Think about it: if the car is uncomfortable for you, then it will be disastrous for your Jello! In these conditions, the Jello may just melt within minutes.
The only way to prevent it is to blast the AC on high and wait for the car to cool down. Also, if you have a habit of keeping frozen groceries in the trunk, then you’re doing more harm than good!
Always keep frozen goods and heat-sensitive food on the front seat or at the back of the car. Try to position the AC vent towards it and make sure that the grocery bag isn’t sealed shut!
Keep It Away From Sunlight
Jello is highly susceptible to sunlight. Not only will it melt, but in some conditions, it may not fully melt either — this leaves you with a half-melted and half-set Jello product that just looks …off.
To prevent this from happening, simply keep the Jello away from sunlight, even while transporting it in a well-ventilated or air-conditioned car.
Store In A Cool And Dry Place
Are you storing the Jello in a cabinet that is built near the stove? Then all it would take is a long cooking session to melt the Jello, even while it is in the cabinet.
Cabinets are essentially enclosed and insulated containers that can build up heat! So, if you keep any perishable food in a cabinet that is regularly exposed to steam or heat, then you are putting the quality of the food at risk!
Store the Jello in a cool, dry place for the best experience. If you don’t have space, then just store it in the fridge! Who doesn’t like delicious and cold Jello?
How To Reset Melted Jello
If the Jello has become completely liquid, then you will have to store it in the fridge for about 2-4 hours until it fully sets. You can also optionally move it in a mold and give it a different shape!
One of the properties of Jello is that it can still retain a smooth texture once it sets — no matter how many times you melt and reset it.
So, in theory, you can just store the melted Jello in a separate, clean container where it will reset and take on its new shape without any issue.
Signs Of Spoilage
Jello contains a lot of water, so it is also susceptible to spoilage!
Spoiled Jello can take on weird properties. It can lose its shape or change color — and it can even grow mold (ew).
Here are some signs of spoilage that you need to look out for.
If you notice the Jello clumping up and becoming grainy, then this would indicate that it has gone bad!
Homemade Jello can last about 10-15 days in the fridge at 40°F, but you still need to consume the product within 2-3 days for the best flavor and texture.
Commercial Jello usually contains preservatives and additives to stabilize it — but you should still always follow the expiration date mentioned on the packaging.
Remember: Jello products are bound to go bad eventually, especially when they are exposed to warm conditions!
Mold And Discoloration
Since Jello products are incredibly simple and contain just a few ingredients, it makes it easy to detect spoilage!
If you notice fuzzy growth on the surface or inside the gelatin structure, then you should avoid consuming the affected Jello.
Even a slight discoloration or any type of powdery growth can indicate spoilage.
Now that you know if Jello melts, here are some additional questions we thought you might have.
Can you freeze Jello?
No. While you may rapidly cool Jello in the freezer and bring down its setting time by a couple of hours, you shouldn’t leave it in the freezer for more than a few hours.
Freezing Jello can cause the gelatin structure to become damaged which means that the Jello will lose its natural characteristics.
It will become rock solid because of the moisture content in it, but once thawed, it will separate and look (and feel) nothing like Jello.
Does powdered Jello expire?
Dehydrated Jello powders fair well at room temperature because they do not contain any moisture.
Please always check the back of the packaging for the expiration date, and avoid consuming Jello powder that is 2-3 months past its expiration date!