Jello is such a fun, jiggly, tasty treat, especially if you’ve got some hungry kids to please. You can also use Jello to make 7-layer salads, fruit salads, cake layers or fillings, and more!
But can you freeze jello? Yes, you can freeze Jello, but it is not recommended to thaw it afterward. Jello will undergo major changes in texture once thawed. The ingredients in thawed jello will separate and leave you with a clumpy, watery mess.
We understand why you may want to put Jello in the freezer. Maybe you want it to turn into a frozen treat, or maybe you’re not interested in waiting 4 hours for it to set. Read on to understand more about why Jello shouldn’t be frozen.
So, you can put Jello in the freezer, but the question really is, should you put Jello in the freezer? The answer to that question is no.
Due to its ingredients, Jello won’t freeze all the way, and when it thaws it will be a totally different substance.
The same components that give Jello its wiggly texture will end up becoming a watery mess when the Jello thaws. Freezing them basically undoes what was accomplished by using boiling water to make the Jello in the first place.
There are a few reasons you may want to freeze Jello. You might be trying to make it last longer, turn it into a Jello-sicle, or shave time waiting for it to set.
Using the freezer to speed up the set time does have some benefit, but it is also risky, and there is a better way to speed up the set time. More on that later.
Either way, there are a few things you need to know about how Jello and the freezer get along. In this article, I will simplify that complex relationship, as well as provide tips on Jello storage and preservation.
Why Is It Bad to Freeze Jello?
The main component that gives Jello its signature wiggles and texture is gelatin, which is animal collagen. It is similar in a lot of ways to fat.
When combined with hot water, compounds within the gelatin form together to create the unique texture of Jello. There are 2 compounds involved in this process that do not enjoy being frozen, polymers and colloids.
When polymers and colloids get too cold, they begin to separate from each other. This reaction means that when frozen Jello is thawed, it will also separate.
This changes the texture of your Jello significantly. The flavor won’t change too much, but you will be left with a mush that no longer holds its shape the way Jello is supposed to.
So yes, you can freeze Jello, and it may turn into a popsicle for a short time, but you’d better eat it quick, or it’ll melt and separate.
With that in mind, there really isn’t a good reason to put Jello in the freezer, even if you want to keep your Jello shots chilled.
Can You Use the Freezer to Make Jello Set Faster?
The next big question regarding Jello and freezer compatibility has to do with the set time. According to the recipe, Jello needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before it will set.
Whether you started the Jello too late or you don’t have the patience to wait, you may be thinking that you can speed up the set time by just tucking the Jello into the freezer for a hot second. You’re not totally wrong.
You can put Jello in the freezer to help it set quicker, but the risk may not be worth the reward. If you leave the Jello in too long, you end up with mush.
Balancing out how long to leave the Jello in the freezer to avoid freezing it while still reducing the set time isn’t easy.
If you absolutely must shave some time off of the set process, you can put the Jello in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
Do not let it stay in there longer, as some parts will freeze while others will still be warm. This can change the texture and reduce the shelf life of your Jello.
There is a better way to speed up the setting process, and we’ve snuck in a tip in the related questions section at the end of this article just for you!
How Long Does Jello Last?
Disclaimer. This whole article is about prepared Jello. Not the pre-packaged Jello cups that can sit in your pantry for eons.
Those guys, like Twinkies and cockroaches, could probably weather a nuclear attack. Prepared Jello has a shorter lifespan and must be refrigerated.
Due to the amount of sugar in Jello, it can eventually go rancid. This isn’t a good fermentation, like wine.
This is a bad, why-does-my-Jello-taste-like-it-has-rotten-sour-gummies-in-it kind of rancid. Not a flavor profile you or your loved ones would enjoy.
Prepared Jello with no additional fruit can last 7-10 days in the fridge. It is easier to hit that 10-day mark if you store your Jello properly. If your Jello has fresh fruit in it, expect 2-3 days at best. You will see the fruit start to break down after this.
If your Jello has fresh fruit in it, use the fruit to determine when your Jello has expired. It will start to break down and become translucent.
There aren’t many visual cues for when fruitless Jello has gone rancid. It may start to separate a little and change color.
Remember, since Jello never fully freezes, the process of going bad is not slowed by storing it in the freezer. In fact, you could end up reducing the life span of your Jello. The refrigerator is the only place to safely store Jello.
How Should You Store Jello?
Jello must be stored in the fridge. It will not last more than a few hours if left out. At the very minimum, make sure you cover your Jello with plastic wrap or a lid.
If you really want to keep your Jello fresh the full 10-days, follow these steps:
- If you can’t make the Jello in a container with a tight fighting lid, then transfer it to one once you are done mixing.
- Once the Jello has cooled down a bit, take a piece of plastic wrap and place it directly on top of the Jello, leaving no air between the plastic and Jello.
- Cover with an air-tight lid and refrigerate.
The plastic wrap/lid combo method protects your Jello from moisture and air, the two biggest bad guys in the food preservation game. Even the little bit of air between the container and lid could change the flavor of your Jello.
Try to avoid leaving Jello uncovered in the fridge. Not only could it spoil faster, but it will start to get that fridge taste from the air. If you can’t find an air-tight container for your Jello, at least use plastic wrap.
Or just eat it all, we won’t judge.
Here are some quick answers to a few other questions you may have. Including that free culinary tip for getting your Jello to set quicker that I mentioned earlier!
Is There a Way to Cool Down Jello Faster, Without the Freezer?
Yes, there is. This way is much more effective than the freezer method and is risk-free. If you really need to speed up the set time on your Jello, especially if you are making layers, then you will want to use a method known as an “ice bath.”
You don’t need your bathtub for this, just a bowl or container larger than the container the Jello is in. You can even use your sink if you want.
Fill the bowl with an even ratio of ice and water. Ideally, you can place the Jello bowl inside of the ice bath without it tipping.
Place your Jello bowl in the ice bath, making sure not to let water spill over, and whisk the mixture occasionally for a period of 20-30 minutes.
After that, stop whisking, and transfer the Jello to the fridge. You’ll probably have shaved about 90-120 minutes from your set time.
When Do You Put Plastic Wrap on Jello?
This is a great question, especially since we talked about moisture and fridge air earlier.
In the ideal world, where time doesn’t matter, you will want to let your Jello sit out for about 30 minutes after mixing. This allows it to cool enough to keep steam from collecting on the lid.
By doing this, you can cover your Jello right away when you put it in the fridge. If you want to put the Jello right into the fridge, leave it uncovered for about 30 minutes.
The steam from the cooking process will collect if you don’t do this. This means moisture, and moisture is bad.
After 30 minutes, go ahead and cover your Jello. Remember, the best method is to use plastic wrap directly on the Jello and a tight-fitting lid on top of that.
If for some unfathomable reason you didn’t eat all the Jello on day one, you will want it to last as long as possible.