Loved by kids and adults, jello is the perfect summertime treat. Learn how long it takes for jello to set to make it firm and not runny.
If you are looking for a way to get your guests excited, look no further than jello treats. Whether it is jello jigglers, jello cubes, or jello shots – they will love every bite.
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What is jello?
Jello or Jell-O is a fruit-flavored gelatin dessert and a registered trademark of Kraft Heinz. It is sold in sachets in the form of jello powder.
The different flavors include strawberry, black cherry, lime, lemon, cherry, peach, raspberry, orange, etc. You can choose from a single flavor or buy bundles of 5, 8, or 15.
One serving has about 80 calories, but you can also purchase a sugar-free option.
The power behind this delicious treat lies within its ingredients: gelatin powder (it takes time to set), sugar, and various flavorings.
If you are not a fan of commercial gelatin desserts, you can make a homemade one. Again, it includes gelatin for the homemade jello to set.
How long does it take for jello to set?
Two main options to harden your jello are refrigeration and freezing with the fridge.
How long does jello set in the fridge?
Using the refrigerator is a great choice and recommended way to set the jello.
Generally, jello sets in the fridge for 2-4 hours, depending on the serving potions.
If you make an extra-large jello dessert, it takes from 4 to 6 hours for the gelatin to set.
So the good news is that you can prepare a batch of jello in the morning to serve in the afternoon or the evening.
But you can prepare your jello in advance and store it for up to 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
Setting jello in the freezer
If you don’t have 4 hours to wait for the gelatin to fix, you can use the freezer to speed up the setting process. The freezer cuts the setting time by about half.
But use the freezing option with caution. So bring the jello to the freezer for only 20 minutes, then move it to the fridge.
Why? Because the jello edges start to freeze faster than the center sets resulting in ruined jello, there is no way to save it!
Moreover, the jello that sets quickly is less stable and might result in a runny gelatin dessert.
How long does jello take to set at room temperature?
Unfortunately, the jello will never be appropriately set at room temperature.
Instead, it will result in a “soft set” or “loosely set” instead of a firm texture. Just remember that jello starts to harden at temperatures below 70°F or 21°C.
But the exact setting temperature of gelatin is much lower, at approximately 34°F° or 1°C.
But how to make the jello set if you don’t have a fridge?
In this rare case, simply place the serving bowls with jello inside an ice bath – a large bowl filled with ice cubes. It might take over 6 hours to harden the dessert properly.
Here is a table of the jello setting times.
|Freezing plus refrigeration||1-3 hours|
|No freezing, no refrigeration||Over 6 hours|
All the setting methods have pros and cons. For the best results, choose the refrigerator to set your jello over the freezing option: slower speed means more heat resistance for the dessert.
How to make jello set faster
In other words, how to speed up the hardening process of your jello? Is there a quick set method?
Yes, you can get the jello set faster. So, let’s break down the options for how to do this.
#1 Using small bowls
The easiest way to get fast-set jello is by using individual molds. The smaller bowls will help with rapid cooling and thus speed up the setting time.
#2 Chilling your mold
Chilling a bowl in advance is another way to make jello firm faster.
Just bring a metal pan, for example, a bundt cake pan, to the fridge or freezer at least one hour ahead of time and then refrigerate until ready to use.
If using a glass or porcelain bowl (the plastic one doesn’t work) for this purpose, be sure not to mix your jello in the chilled bowl.
The temperature difference between hot and cold will result in breaking the bowl.
#3 Using ice cubes during preparation
It is actually one of the methods (aka the speed-set method) mentioned on the jello package.
Using ice cubes or a mixture of ice and water instead of cold water speeds up the set time of the jello.
Stir the gelatine mixture for 3 to 4 minutes, remove the unmelted ice, and divide the jello mix between the serving bowls. Bring the jello to the refrigerator, where it will be fully set in 1-1.5 hours.
Freezing is an effective way of preserving food for a long time.
So it makes sense that you want to use the freezer to set your jello faster, right?
But it has some limitations. You should place the jello for only 20 minutes in the freezer, then bring it to the fridge.
The more prolonged exposure will cause the freezing of the jell-O at the bowl edges while the center will remain unset.
Moreover, the frozen jello loses its “gelling power,” which results in a watery mess (aka wasted bowl of jello).
Jello not setting
Why is your Jell-O not setting? You might not know there are common reasons why your jell-O won’t set despite the recommended set time.
Some fresh fruit can prevent your jello from setting. For example, pineapple, kiwi, guava, papaya, ginger, and figs have enzymes that inhibit the chemical reactions needed for gelification.
The good news is that you can still save your batch of jello!
If you didn’t use this tropical fruit and your jello isn’t set, you probably didn’t follow the box’s instructions.
While making the jello, it is essential to dissolve the gelatin mixture in boiling water before adding the correct amount of cold water to the mix.
Gelatin must dissolve entirely before adding cold water; otherwise, the jello will not set.
Unfortunately, in this scenario, you will not be able to save your jello.
Is there a reason why jello shots are not setting? Make sure you follow the recipe perfectly. Keep the ratio of alcohol to non-alcoholic liquid so as not to interfere with the gelatin setting properties.
Extra tip: Don’t cover your jello with plastic wrap: it will take longer to set it up, or gelatin will not be set.
How to fix jello that didn’t set
If you added one of the fruits mentioned earlier, there is a chance to save your jello.
Just pick the fruit from the mixture and bring it back to the fridge. It might take at least 5 hours for the jello to set.
Hopefully, the amount of the fruit enzymes was small enough not to disturb the gelatin’s setting properties.
If you didn’t use any fruits, you could try to melt the jello in a double boiler (but not boiling it over a stove), stir it, and let it set in the refrigerator again.
The jello usually takes 2-4 hours to set in the refrigerator, but it can be accelerated by using ice cubes, small chilled bowls, and the freezer.
It is imperative to follow the jello instructions to set it properly. And if you are a jell-O fan, save this post to Pinterest to read it later.
Jello has to be refrigerated, and it takes 2-4 hours for it set up right and ready.
Jello will set faster when put in the freezer, but no longer than 20 minutes, or it might lose its “gelling power.”
It takes 10-30 minutes for one layer to partially set before adding the next layer to make a layered jello dessert.
Standard jello shots require about 1.5-3 hours to set completely.
Stored in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator, jello can last up to 7 to 10 days.