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We all love jello, don’t we? It’s yummy, easy to make, and can be used in several pudding recipes. The thing with jello is that it takes time to set, meaning it’s not ideal for whipping up right before guests arrive. So, can you freeze jello for easy use later?
Technically, jello can be frozen, but it will spoil. Jello contains gelatin compounds (polymer and colloids) that give it firmness. The compounds get destroyed when frozen. Once thawed, the texture will never be the same. The only reason to put jello in the freezer is to speed up its setting time.
If you were thinking about freezing jello or jello shots, you should probably reconsider that or be prepared for it to all go to waste. Unless you want a huge jello mess that looks and feels terrible and isn’t very safe to eat, you will want to avoid the freezer.
What Happens When You Freeze Jello?
The truth is that you can freeze jello. Because it contains mainly water, once it’s made, it can freeze. It will not become the consistency of ice cubes because it contains gelatin but will be solid enough to suck like an ice lolly – a jello-sical.
Unless you want to give it to your child for cold sensory play, it’s not recommended that you freeze it. That’s because the compounds in the gelatin (polymer and colloids) that binds the jello together break down and get destroyed when it is exposed to freezing temperatures.
This means that you won’t have the same texture when you eventually thaw the jello because it will be a soft, mushy, clumpy consistency that looks bad and is probably not very safe to eat. Not to mention it’s not likely to taste very good either.
If you have too much leftover jello that might go bad if you keep it any longer, share it with your neighbors or let your little kids use it for painting and sensory play. Freezing the jello will only cause wastage anyway.
Why Does Jello Spoil When You Freeze It?
Jello is a jiggly wiggly, translucent dessert that comes in a variety of flavors. The whole idea of jello is its unique texture once it’s set. It becomes solid but not hard. It’s almost squishy, and you could cut through it with a thread.
The reason this is possible is that the primary ingredient that makes jello that way is gelatin. Gelatin is a biopolymer protein from animals – usually pigs or cows. It is translucent and tasteless yet plays a significant role in binding the water and sugar that make the jello.
When you freeze it, the water becomes crystalized, and this crystallization process causes the gelatin bonds to break. The damage to the jello is irreparable because of the destroyed bonds.
Can You Freeze Jello Shots?
As with regular jello, you can freeze jello shots in a technical sense. Alcohol takes a lot longer to freeze, but the same chemical bond of gelatin that gets destroyed in regular jello will also break in the jello shots.
The whole situation of frozen jello shots will end up in a fail because once the bonds break, the texture will crystalize and spoil the consistency. That will make the taste unappealing and unenjoyable.
If your biggest concern is making jello shots ahead of time, you can still do that and keep them in the fridge. They stay pretty well for 2-3 days when refrigerated and will be ready for your guests at your next party.
Can You Reheat Frozen/Thawed Jello?
Your first instinct after realizing that you shouldn’t have frozen your jello might be to reheat it, hoping the lumpiness will disappear into liquid and your jello will set firmly again. Well, that was also my first thought process. But that’s unfortunately not the case.
As mentioned previously, once your jello is frozen, the bonds of the gelatin compounds break. These compounds bind the jello, and if they are destroyed, they cannot bind again.
If you do reheat your frozen jello or thawed jello, you will probably save it from looking like it’s just been through a mincing machine, but even if you leave it to set or put it in the refrigerator, it won’t firm up and get back its wiggly jiggly texture again.
How To Save Your Frozen Jello
So you froze your jello, and then you tried to reheat it, and it’s not setting. You think there’s no way to save it, and you have to throw it all away. But don’t despair completely; there is one option left that can help you save your yummy strawberry jello.
The one way you might manage to save your frozen, thawed, separated, watery, lumpy jello is by adding an extra little bit of gelatin to it.
Here is how you would do it:
- Mix about 1-2 teaspoons of gelatin powder to about 2 tablespoons of water to dissolve it and keep it aside.
- Add your spoiled jello to a saucepan, and on low to the medium setting, let it heat up into liquid.
- Be careful not to boil it as this will destroy it further. It only needs to warm up.
- Once the jello is hot and liquid, stir in the prepared gelatin mixture, ensuring it is well dissolved.
- Let it cool slightly, add to your mold or preferred dish, and let it set.
- You can leave it on the countertop until completely cooled and then refrigerate it.
- If you need it to set quickly, put it in the freezer for no longer than 10 minutes. Set a timer, so you dint forget. Remember, you don’t want it to freeze!
This method will give you a firm jelly but bear in mind that the texture might be get slightly altered, and the flavor may dim down a little bit. But the method does work if you are desperate to save your jello.
It is recommended that you don’t freeze your jello. If you need it to set quickly, freeze it for no longer than 10 minutes. Jello stays well in the refrigerator for 2-4 days so you can make ahead and don’t need to stress on the day your guests are arriving.
Freezing jello will destroy its binding that keeps it firm and jiggly, which is the entire point and fun part of jello. But remember, if you made the mistake of freezing it, there is a sneaky way to save it in some form – hopefully, that will be helpful to you!