Can You Freeze Jello? Let’s Find Out!

Sold since 1897, Jello has occupied a familiar place on American dinner tables for decades.

Jello is very popular, a fruity-flavored dessert that many children and even adults enjoy eating. 

To be honest with you, I am not the biggest fan of it, and I would rather have macarons and even meringue.

But one friend recently asked me if it is OK to freeze jello? 

So, I decided to write this article. 🙂

What is Jello?

You probably didn’t know that Jello is a brand name owned by Kraft Foods.

Today the name is used to market a wide range of desserts and snacks. It can also refer to gelatin-based desserts consisted of coloring, fruit flavorings and sweeteners.

Gelatin forms a network of unsecured bonds with other gelatin molecules.

Those bonds aren't the traditional covalent/ionic bonds that you learn about in chemistry - it's more similar to a tangle of threads. Some gels do have real bonds between molecules, but not the type in Jello.

Urban legends claim that gelatin comes from cow or horse hooves, though that's not exactly true.

The collagen in gelatin comes from boiling the bones and hides of animals processed for their meat (usually pigs and cows). But hooves consist of a different keratin and protein, which can't produce gelatin.

There are so many ways to enjoy Jello. You can eat it as it is! You can add some fruits, or you can top it with whip cream. You can buy it in the grocery store or even make your own.


Can Jello go bad?

Just like all foods, Jello can go rancid.

It is high in both sugar and water, so its spoilage is…well, inevitable.

In fact, when you store the prepared Jello in the fridge, it would last seven to ten days. The same goes for opened Jello cups. And when I say prepared Jello, I mean the cups you can snack on, stir together for dessert and even those you can use for boozy shots. 

Ok, I found out that Jello cups with fruits have a shorter lifespan and that’s due to the presence of fruits. So, these desserts will likely spoil in two to three days even when stored in the fridge. 

Completely sealed and pre-packaged cups are a different story. When sealed and stored at room temperature, the snack cups can last for four months. You can even put them in the fridge, so they will be safe to eat past a year, just as long as the cups are sealed.

How to tell if Jello is bad, spoiled or rotten?

Practicing proper food safety and hygiene techniques help prevent foodborne illness.

  • Well, the first sign of caution is when you see pockets of watery liquid and the sweet taste is replaced with a bitter, sharp flavor. You can tell if prepared jello has gone bad if you see the light bacterial marks or dark mold on its surface.
  • Always toss any food with mold. There are, of course, specific health risks which are associated with spoiled foods so remember to practice food safety to enjoy your foods before their shelf life has expired!

Can you freeze Jello?

Ok, the question of the day - can you freeze it? Is that the best way to extend the life of opened Jello cups? I was wondering too before I decided to find out.

Technically speaking - yes, you can freeze Jello. But eating it afterward is a whole different story.

Freezing won’t result in the hardening of the dessert like ice cubes due to their gelatin content.

What’s even worse, Jello will lose its texture when frozen.

Why does that happen? It’s because freezing will damage the colloids and polymers that bind the gelatin together, and the Jello will separate when you thaw it.

One friend of mine told me what happened when she accidentally froze Jello for seven hours. She expressed disgust after seeing the appearance of the frozen Jello but also said that the taste of it was not affected by freezing.

Freezing Jello shots or Jello with alcohol will yield the same results. I know a lot of people who serve Jello shots during parties because it is a way to ingest alcohol without tasting it.

In case you didn’t know, alcohol has a lower freezing temperature compared to water. It needs to be in an environment of about -97°C to freeze. And guess what? Most of the freezers can reach only -20°C.

So, Jello shots won’t wholly be frozen no matter how long you keep them in your freezer. The taste of it may not change, but the consistency may be different, and your guests would think twice about drinking it. 

When you freeze jello, the water crystallizes and breaks apart the "bonds" of the gelatin. So when you unfreeze it, the integrity of those bonds are hurt and the physical structure of the gel is broken. Some gel structure remains - but it is weird.

How to store Jello?

  • For the packaged and prepared jello and the boxed dry mix Jello, it should be stored in a dry and cool environment which is not susceptible to temperature change. Prepared Jello should be covered in a plastic wrap which prevents air and moisture from spoiling it.  

When drink and food go through temperature changes of warm to cold, and vice versa, moisture in the air tends to condensate inside packages. This moisture allows mold to grow and that spoils your Jello.

And while a refrigerator is recommended for packaged prepared Jello, it is not required. If you bought the prepared product in the refrigerator section, I suggest you keep it in the refrigerator, and if you purchased it on the shelf, then it can remain on the shelf until you open it.

  • For homemade Jello, you want to keep it fresh longer by storing it in your fridge immediately after use. You should store it in air-tight containers which help keep out moisture and other contaminants. Also, make sure to use clean utensils when serving to avoid cross-contamination.
  • If you are to store unopened Jello cups in the cupboard, just make sure that temperature doesn’t exceed 23°C. Sealed cups should also be away from heat or water sources. You should try to keep away dry Jello mix from heat, light, and moisture if you are to store it at room temperature. The package should be tightly sealed to prevent exposure to moisture.

Some benefits of proper food storage include cutting food costs, eating healthier and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

With all things considered, I don’t recommend freezing Jello since it changes the consistency drastically. You can do that with Jello pudding pops which come frozen and can remain in it state for eight to twelve months.

Conclusion 

So to answer my friend’s question — Yes, you can freeze Jello, but it won’t extend the shelf life of the food.

Moreover, freezing can affect the consistency and texture of the dessert.

If I were you, I would keep leftover Jello in the refrigerator where it would stay safe for consumption in seven to ten days.

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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