Jello is a classic American dessert. Although it became extremely popular in the post-WWII era, Jello is a fruity-flavored pantry staple that children and adults alike can enjoy.
If you have extra Jello hanging out in your refrigerator, you might be wondering, “can you freeze Jello?” The short answer is that yes, you can, but you’ll want to take a few simple steps to ensure its freshness and longevity.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Exactly is Jello?
Jello is technically a brand name that is owned by Kraft Foods. The name applies to a large array of snacks and desserts and can also apply to jelly gelatin-based desserts that consist of fruit flavorings, sweeteners, and coloring.
Gelatin is a unique compound that forms a network of unsecured bonds with other molecules of gelatin. It looks a lot like a tangle of thread under a microscope, and it has some truly remarkable properties that bear mentioning, too!
Gelatin is made by boiling the hides and bones of various animals after the rest of the animal has been processed for meat. Usually, those animals are cows and pigs.
That’s the nitty-gritty – but what you really need to know is that this gelatin is the primary ingredient in Jello, which is a dessert that tastes great on its own or when topped with fruit or whipped cream. It can be purchased at the grocery store or you can make some for yourself at home, too.
Can You Freeze Jello?
You can freeze Jello and you won’t have to worry about it losing any of its freshness or safety to eat. However, you may be disappointed with the final results.
What Happens When You Freeze Jello?
First, freezing Jello won’t cause it to harden as ice cubes do. This is because of the gelatin. That’s why so many people enjoy making Jello shots and putting them in the freezer, too.
Unfortunately, though, freezing Jello does cause it to lose some of its texture. When you freeze Jello, the cold temperatures can damage the polymers and colloids that bind together the gelatin. It will then separate when it is thawed.
What is the Shelf Life of Jello?
Jello does eventually go bad, but it takes quite some time for it to do so. Like all foods, though, it does have an expiration date. Jello is high in water and sugar, after all.
When you store prepared Jello in the refrigerator, it will last up to ten days. That lifespan is shorter if the Jello cups have fruit or if you are storing Jello that you made with other toppings, like whipped cream. These can spoil in as little as three days.
However, Jello cups that are pre-packaged and totally sealed fall into a separate category. When these items are stored at room temperature, they can last up to four months. They can even be stored in the refrigerator if you want, but there’s no reason to do so if they are sealed. In this case, they can last a year or more.
How to Store Jello
The best and easiest way to store Jello is to leave it unopened and unprepared in its package. Sealed Jello cups can be stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. The most important thing to remember to do is to keep the cups out of direct sunlight and away from any source of heat or water.
Once you open your Jello cups – or if you are making prepared Jello – you will want to cover it in plastic wrap and stash it in the refrigerator. It will last for a few days before it develops a hard crust. It will still be safe to eat at this point, but might not be as appetizing!
Freezing Jello doesn’t exactly ruin it, but it doesn’t do it many favors, either. When you freeze Jello, it not only will not harden up like ice cubes, but it will also cause the dessert to lose its texture, too.
If you are making Jello at home, you know that one of the steps in doing so is to allow it to “set,” or harden. You need to plan ahead when you make Jello because setting it in the refrigerator takes a few hours for a good, firm finished product.
The instructions on the Jello package ask you to stir the Jello into boiling water. One trick to help the Jello set faster is to follow the normal steps for setting the Jello, then adding ice cubes instead of boiling water. This will help it set faster.
Many people assume that putting Jello in the freezer will cool it more quickly. That’s a good theory in idea, but not so much in practice. The Jello at the edges, where it’s watery, will freeze long before the Jello in the center does. You’ll end up with a messy conglomeration that won’t be quite what you’re hoping for.
You can store Jello in the fridge for about seven to ten days when it’s wrapped properly.
You can, but be mindful of the fact that you might not love the results. If you serve Jello shots after they’ve been frozen, you’ll find that the texture may be slightly off. Alcohol has a lower freezing temperature than water. In order to freeze alcohol, you need to keep it at temperatures much lower than what most household freezers can reach.
Therefore, there’s really no benefit to freezing Jello shots long term unless you want them to get super cold. The taste won’t change, but the texture might – so stick to refrigerating them instead.
If you just pulled your Jello out of the refrigerator and freezer and want to know if it has spoiled, there are a few ways you can tell if it’s gone bad. One is to look for pockets of watery liquid. You might also notice that the Jello tastes sharp and bitter.
Other telltale signs include the appearance of dark mold or pale bacterial marks. Any time you notice these, toss them. There are plenty of health risks associated with eating spoiled food that is probably best to avoid.
The Jello brand also encompasses several other products, including pudding. Pudding can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. Unlike other types of Jello, Jello pudding holds up nicely in the freezer and it can last here for up to three months.
Yes! Certain types of Jello, like Jello pudding, can be turned into frozen Popsicles that will last up to three months in the freezer.
*Photo by lvssvl1/depositphotos