As anyone with a sweet tooth would tell you, jelly can be particularly appealing even at the most random times. There is just something irresistible about jelly.
Even the most avid jelly consumers might not be able to eat it all before the expiration date, so what do you do if you want your jelly to last longer?
Can you freeze jelly? Yes! You can freeze both storebought and homemade jelly. If you are freezing homemade jelly, make sure that it is properly set before placing it in the freezer. Jelly will start to lose its flavor after one year of being frozen, so it’s best to thaw and eat it sooner. We recommend using it within 6 months for the best quality.
This may seem unclear now, so let us explain further. Be sure to keep reading as we delve deeper into the process of freezing jelly and how best to approach it. This way, you can better understand how to go about everything when you give it a try at home.
What Is Jelly?
Most people confuse jellies with jams, marmalade, and preserves. This is perfectly understandable given the fact that they look extremely similar.
In addition to this, all of them are all cooked mixtures made from a similar list of ingredients including fruit juices, fruit, sugar, and pectin.
That said, we need to take a closer look at what sets jelly apart from the rest of these mixtures. The difference lies primarily in the appearance, consistency, and actual content of the mixtures.
For instance, you will probably notice that jam has an incredibly thick consistency. It often contains small pieces of puréed fruit mixed with sugar and cooked until they turn soft.
Preserves are made in the same fashion albeit making use of larger chunks of fruit while the marmalade is a particular type of preserve that makes use of citrus fruit peel – Seville oranges being the most common.
Jelly is a transparent and clear mixture. Instead of fruit chunks, its main ingredients are fruit juice, sugar, and pectin.
Similar to jams, they are often used as a spread for bread. However, they are also used as fillings for different kinds of pastries including cakes and cookies.
Of course, the jelly’s most distinctive characteristic is its tender but firm texture. Unlike the other mixtures mentioned above, jelly is able to retain its shape once removed from its container.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try a unique and delicious jelly, we highly recommend Stonewall Kitchen’s Red Pepper Jelly. Yum!
The Complete Guide To Freezing Jelly
Like with every food product, jellies need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to achieve optimal longevity. Your freezer is the best storage option if you want to effectively maintain the jelly’s natural flavor and color.
Needless to say, storing jelly in the pantry at room temperature is not a viable option. This is because jelly can go bad quickly.
In a short time, you may encounter fermentation and even mold. To prevent this, be sure to quickly refrigerate once the container is opened.
Frozen jelly has a shelf-life of around six months to one year. So, be sure to use it within that time period.
Keeping jelly in the freezer for over a year will ultimately lead to less intense flavors. It will also probably lose some of its character and consistency.
You only get to thaw the jelly once and you should not freeze it for a second time.
Freezing Jelly – What You Should Know
Freezing jelly is a straightforward process. If done right, it can be as simple as packing the jelly into a container and sticking it in your freezer.
For optimal results, here’s what to keep in mind when freezing jelly:
- Pick the right container – You don’t need to get fancy when picking containers for your jelly. Plastic containers would work well enough. Just make sure that there are no leaks and you can put a lid on your container to help prevent any freezer burn from occurring.
- Do not overfill the container – When putting the jelly into your chosen container, be sure to leave a bit of space from the top of the container. About half an inch should do it. This is because you need to take into account air expansion during the freezing process. Overfilling your container may cause it to burst.
- Freeze each layer individually – If you are preparing to freeze a layered jelly, you need to ensure that they are properly chilled and set before the next layer is put on top of the other. You want to prevent the different layers from slipping. So, be sure to freeze only once all the layers have been put together.
- Make sure the container is level – The last thing you want is to end up with an unsightly and lopsided jelly. So, be sure to put the container at a level platform in your freezer. This is so that the jelly doesn’t shift inside.
Will Freezing Homemade Jelly Help It Set Faster?
By now, we probably don’t need to tell you that jellies are incredibly versatile. They can be used in several different ways from shots to desserts.
For instance, you can make coffee-flavored jelly snacks to give you that caffeine fixes you have been looking for. It can also be used for party drinks like jelly shots.
Like with everything else in the kitchen, we believe that homemade jelly will always be lightyears ahead of any store-bought products.
However, one of the biggest complaints home cooks have when making their jelly is the prolonged setting time.
Typically, most jellies would need around 2 to 4 hours to settle when placed in a 41-degree Fahrenheit fridge. It can even take as long as 24 hours, in some cases, especially when you are making a big batch.
Needless to say, the whole endeavor will require time and patience on your part.
There are a number of factors that can affect the jelly’s setting time:
- If your jelly has fresh fruit juice, then its enzymes may be preventing the pectin from doing its job as a binding agent.
- If your jelly has alcohol content then you should know that this will hamper the setting process and slow it down considerably. As a basic rule, higher alcohol will always lead to a longer setting process. In fact, too much alcohol will prevent it from setting properly altogether.
That said, there are myriad different ways to help circumvent the problem of prolonged setting time. The most effective solution is to help the mixture set by getting it colder at a faster rate.
Here’s how to decrease jelly set time:
- Use a chilled metal mold for your jelly. The results may be minimal with this option.
- Use ice cubes instead of just cold water when mixing everything. Just be sure to keep track of the water proportions so it doesn’t affect the taste of the final product. Remember, overdoing it can lead to a bland jelly.
- Put the jelly mixture in the freezer. While not without its own risks, setting jelly in the freezer will effectively cut down your setting time by at least half.
Be careful if you choose to set the jelly in the freezer as you are not really looking to literally freeze the mixture. Instead, you are counting on your freezer to cool it down faster than your fridge.
However, you need to pay close attention and periodically check the jelly every few minutes. This is to ensure that it doesn’t actually freeze. Again, the size of your batch will play a factor here.
Freezing the jelly before it sets will be counterintuitive to your efforts because of the chemical reactions it will cause as premature freezing will ultimately prevent the jelly from setting altogether.
If you are not careful, you will probably end up with something similar to frozen juice rather than jelly.
If you follow the jelly’s setting process closely, you will end up with a tasty and beautiful snack in a fraction of the time that you would normally need to make it.
Before you start thawing, you need to remember that you can only do this once. Freezing your jelly for a second time is inadvisable.
That means that once you have thawed your batch, you will need to use it in the next couple of weeks.
There are two ways to thaw jelly:
- You can take your frozen jelly from the freezer and stick it in the fridge. Needless to say, the waiting time will be longer.
- You can also put your container under the sink and thaw it with warm water.