Although jelly has good shelf-live when kept in the fridge (up to 1 week), sometimes it might be easier to freeze the jelly straightaway to keep it for longer.
Other times, you might end up with a lot of leftover jelly from a summer garden party and rather than keeping it in the fridge, freezer is, again, the practical solution here.
Also before we get started, let me just reassure you that whether you are in the UK and calling this simple pudding a ‘jelly’ or in the USA, Canada or Australia or anywhere else in the world, and calling it ‘jello’, I’m talking about the same thing here. Since I’m based in the UK, it’s ‘jelly’ for me, but the same principles about freezing will apply to ‘jello’ too.
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Can you freeze jelly – the simple answer
Jelly can be frozen and kept in the freezer for 1-3 months without any problem or even longer (maximum of 6 months if your freezer is in a good running order).
You can also use the freezer to speed up the setting of your homemade jelly, because normally it can take 2-3 hrs to set jelly in fridge or even longer in a room temperature.
Let me share with you my favourite tips on how best to freeze jelly and few tricks on how to make your jelly desserts last a little longer.
How long can you freeze jelly for?
Jelly can be in the freezer up to 3-6 months. Ideally you should use up the jelly within 1-3 months, but if your freezer is in a good order ( as in doesn’t fluctuate in temperature, which can adversely affect the food inside) you can keep the jelly in the freezer for up 6 months.
The jelly won’t go off as such, but it might start to deteriorate in flavour, colour and structure.
How to freeze jelly
Use a suitable container
This is usually hard plastic container or you can even use sturdy plastic freezer bags. Please don’t use glass, as the cold might shatter it and you might end up with spoiled jelly (and the rest of your freezer).
If you are used to making jelly in to glasses (which is what I tend to do), gently take them out and wrap the jelly individually in a cling film before placing it to a large container.
This way you can take out just one portion at the time and take off the cling film and place it back to the glass and then leave it to defrost in the fridge or in the kitchen (room temperature).
Use lid or other ways to seal the container
You do need to make sure that the container has a lid or use a strong cling film to seal the top of the container or jelly pot. If you want to be super organised, add a label with a date, so that you remember to take the jelly out in a good time.
Place the jelly in the freezer
Make sure that you keep your container as flat as you possibly can. It’s worth the time to sort out your freezer before you add the jelly in and designate a lower shelf or compartment (usually the coldest one) to freeze your jelly.
Remove everything from the bottom and make sure that you don’t move the jelly inside when you place it into the freezer.
Once your jelly is properly frozen (usually around 4-6 hrs) you can move the rest of frozen food around it or place other foods on the top of the container.
Can you freeze shop or store bought jelly?
Yes, you can freeze shop bought jelly. The plain fruit jelly is the best one for freezing and one that will last as long in the freezer as a homemade jelly.
Any jelly puddings with cream or other non-jelly layers are a bit trickier to freeze and might not look (and taste) their best when you defrost them.
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Can you freeze concentrated jelly cubes?
You can certainly keep the concentrated jelly cubes (like Hartley’s Jelly) in the freezer, but because they are quite solid already, they won’t freeze much – they will just get slightly harder.
Unless you have no other option, you don’t need to freeze concentrated jelly cubes as these have a very long shelf life (at least 12 months) and don’t go off even when you go beyond their sell by date (and use by date).
I know, because I’ve tried them many time when they were past their sell by date and they tasted and set the jelly absolutely fine.
If you want your jelly to set properly and to last a long time in the freezer it’s best to let the jelly set first in the fridge and then place it in the freezer.
You can somewhat reduce the time of the jelly setting and get your jelly to set faster, but it’s best to leave the gelatine set first and then speed up the firming process in the freezer (if you are running out of time and you need your jelly to set fast)
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Alcohol prevents jelly freezing firmly
If you add a lot of alcohol to your jelly, the alcohol will prevent it from freezing and the jelly will stay slightly soft. Because of that you might like to use this kind of jelly a bit sooner than regular type of jelly (say within one month).
How to defrost jelly
It’s best to plan ahead and take out your jelly the day before you want to use it (8-12 hrs before). Leave it in the fridge to fully defrost.
If you forget to take the jelly out, you can also de-frost it in the room temperature (it will defrost faster than in the fridge), but eat it within the same day.
To speed up things, you can also submerge the jelly container in a warm water and let it defrost this way (or start the defrosting process this way and after about 10 minutes remove the container and leave in a room temperature to finish the defrosting).
Don’t use hot water otherwise your gelatine will dissolve again.
If you have a defrost setting on your microwave, you can also use that, but be careful of not warming up the jelly. Remember that microwave heats the food from the middle, so stop well before the whole jelly looks defrosted.
Kepping it in the microwave (with no power, just standing) for another minute will help to distribute the heat around and de-frost the whole jelly perfectly.
It is possible to re-freeze jelly?
Technically it’s possible to re-freeze previously frozen jelly, but I’d not recommend it. You are running the chances that something will go wrong with the jelly, it might get too soggy and bacteria might develop since it’s already been defrosted before. I just don’t think, it’s worth the hassle.
This blog post was originally written on 6 June 2022 and last updated on 25 November 2022