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Can You Put Jello In The Freezer? (To Make It Set Faster)

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The only difficulty involved in making jello is that it needs to be put together about 4 hours before the meal to give it time to set. But, if you are wondering whether you can put jello in the freezer to make it set faster, the answer is yes, but with some limitations.

Putting jello into the freezer for a very short time, 10 to 20 minutes at the most, is one of the methods busy cooks can employ to make jello set faster. But, the process must be monitored carefully because leaving jello in the freezer for too long will affect the gelling process which can prevent the jello from setting properly, causing a soft-set jello and possibly even ice crystals to form.

What Is The Best Way To Make Jello Set Faster?

Colorful jello shots

The best way that I have ever found to make jello set faster is to adjust the package directions as follows:

  1. Pour 1 box of jello powder into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of boiling water and stir for two minutes until completely dissolved.
  3. To ½ cup of cold water, add ice cubes to measure 1 cup of water.
  4. Stir the cold water and ice cubes into the jello powder and hot water mixture and stir until the ice has dissolved and the mixture has begun to thicken.
  5. Remove any ice that has not melted.
  6. Refrigerate the jello mixture, which should be ready to serve within the hour.

How Long Does It Take For Jello To Set?

According to package directions, it takes between 2 and 4 hours for jello to set. It can be soft set in 2 hours, but it takes 1 to 2 packages of jello up to 4 hours to reach a firm set. If you are making more than two batches at a time, it can take up to 6 hours to set.

If, however, you make a batch of jello and pour it into individual serving cups, it can set within 2 hours. This is a good plan if you are short on time.

Jello made by either placing it in the freezer for up to 20 minutes or by substituting ice cubes for part of the cold water, can be ready to serve within 1 hour. By using these “quick” methods, the set may not be firm, but will at least be a soft set that will make a perfectly good dessert. 

Why Is My Jello Not Firm?

There are several different conditions under which your jello may not be firm. Those conditions include:

  1. If the water in which you dissolve the jello powder is not boiling, your jello powder may not dissolve completely, and the resulting jello may never become firm.
  2. If you do not follow the boiling water with cold water when making jello, the result may not become as firm as it should be.
  3. If you try to speed up the gelling process by putting it in the freezer and leave it in the freezer for too long, it may not become as firm as it should be. Jello should not be left in the freezer for more than 20 minutes, or the gelling properties of the gelatin which causes the jello to become firm may be damaged so that the jello never becomes firm.
  4. If you add too much water to the jello powder, the result will be runny.
  5. If you add fruit to the jello, such as canned pineapple, and the fruit was not drained before adding it to the jello, that could make the jello to water ratio off to such an extent that the jello will not gel properly.
  6. The size or configuration of the container can affect the length of time it takes the jello to become firm. A large, deep bowl of jello will take longer to become firm than a flat container, that will result in a thinner jello that should become firm a lot faster than the larger bowl.

How Can I Salvage Jello That Didn’t Set?

Here are a few things you can try to salvage a failed jello dessert:

  1. Give the jello another day in the refrigerator to see if it will eventually set up.
  2. Mix up a 2nd package of jello using only the boiling water and mixing well, and leaving off the cold water. Then add that mixture to the failed mixture to see if it can give the failed mixture the boost it needs to complete the gelling process.
  3. Try melting the jello in the top of a double water, just until it is melted. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil. Then, pour the jello mixture back into the mold that you are using and refrigerate to see if it will set at this point.
Pile of Jello Cubes

What Is The Best Way To Add Fruit To Jello?

The best way to add fruit to jello is to add it to the boiling water and jello powder mixture at the point that the cold water is added. But, here is where this gets tricky. Some fruits, such as pineapple and papaya, contain a lot of natural juice, which can affect the amount of liquid in the entire dish and can cause the jello to be runny and keep it from setting properly. 

So, to avoid having runny jello, be sure to either strain the fruit so that there isn’t excess moisture, or use the natural juice of the fruit as a partial or complete replacement for the 1 cup of cold water that must be added to the jello.

Jelly Grandma’s Favorite Jello Recipe

Many years ago, probably around 1970, during a visit with one of my aunts, she served a jello salad that was so good, I asked her for the recipe, which I still make to this day. I have since seen this recipe, or close variations, on many different occasions and from various sources.

Many years ago, probably around 1970, during a visit with one of my aunts, she served a jello salad that was so good, that I asked her for the recipe, which I still make to this day. I have since seen this recipe, or close variations, on many different occasions and from various sources.

Ingredients:

  • 1 6-oz package of Strawberry Jello
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 medium Bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 10-oz packages of frozen Strawberries, thawed
  • 1 20-oz can crushed Pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1 8-oz package Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the jello powder and 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until combined, approximately 2 minutes.
  2. Add bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and pecans and combine thoroughly.
  3. Pour half of the jello mixture into a 9” x 13” container and refrigerate until set.
  4. Leave the other half of the jello mixture in the bowl and stir often to keep from setting completely.
  5. When the jello mixture has set in the 9” x 13” container, spread a thick layer of cream cheese over the entire mixture and top with the second half of the jello mixture still remaining in the mixing bowl.
  6. Refrigerate the dessert until set.

I serve this jello dish with Captain’s Wafers, and at times I make it without the cream cheese and serve it with a dollop of mayonnaise and the Captain’s Wafers.

I have fond memories of my mother and I having this jello salad for lunch along with a deviled egg or two and an assortment of cheeses. Makes a wonderful and delicious meal!

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For more, don’t miss How Long Does Jello Last? | Dry vs. Prepared.

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