Homemade jelly has a relatively long shelf-life and depending on what ingredients you use you can keep jelly in the fridge for 1-3 days as a minimum and up to 5-7 days if your jelly is made clear – plain with just fruit juice or water and sugar.
This means you can easily prepare homemade jelly in advance if you are planning a summer party or preparing your child’s snacks for the week ahead.
I make a lot of jelly sweets and desserts to serve as a refreshments for my baking courses and my students quite often ask me how long is save to keep jelly in the fridge once you’ve made it. It’s an interesting question, because whilst homemade jelly doesn’t quite go off, it can be tricky to know how long is safe to keep it in the fridge before it should be eaten.
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 the jelly shelflife and keeping it in the fridge will apply to ‘jello’ too.
So, in this blog post I wanted to share with you my tried and tested tips on how to keep jelly in the fridge, so that it keeps for longer and of course look into how long you can keep your jelly in the fridge.
PUDDING & DESSERT RECIPES
What type of jelly are we talking about?
The type of jelly I’ve tested the shelf life for is homemade jelly made from a gelatine powder and fruit juice (including my Chia Seeds & Fruit Jelly Pudding) and simple jelly made from concentrated fruit jelly cubes, such as Hartley’s.
If you buy jelly pots in the shop, follow the shelf-life and sell-by date that’s printed on the packet. In my experience they will usually last a little longer (by 2-3 days or even longer) beyond their sell by date if they have no fresh fruit or cream in them.
If the jelly includes fresh cream (like in a triffle) you need to be careful about eating it after it’s sell by date. I always taste the cream first and if it taste fine (e.i. it’s not bitter or sour) then I know the rest of the jelly pudding will be fine.
Packed jelly cubes, tinned jelly or concentrated gelly lasts much longer and usually doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge until you open them or make it (dilute it) and leave it to set.
Exactly how long does jelly last in the fridge, once you make it?
Once you make your jelly and your jelly is firmly set you can keep the jelly in the fridge for a minimum of 72 hours (3 days).
Saying that, I’ve previously kept a plain fruit jelly (e.g. not including fruit or cream or other ingredients) in the fridge for 5-7 days and it was still fine.
If you want to keep your jelly for longer than that, you can also freeze jelly in the freezer.
If you add various inclusions, such as fresh fruit, milk or cream, you need to be a bit careful and eat your jelly within 1-2 days. The jelly itself will be fine, but the other ingredients have much shorter shelflife and could spoil the jelly.
MORE COLD PUDDING RECIPES
Jelly shelf-life depending on the ingredients
Over the years I find that the jelly shelf-life depends very much on what other ingredients you are using, so let’s re-cap exactly how long you can keep your homemade jelly based on the ingredients.
Plain Jelly made from concentrated jelly cubes, such as Hartley’s
72 hrs – 3 days as a minium, with tested shelf-life up to 5-7 days if made up as a smaller jelly pots and sealed
Plain jelly made from gelatine powder and fresh fruit juice
72 hrs – 3 days as minimum, with tested shelf-life up to 5 days
Jelly with fresh fruit (inside the jelly)
1-3 days, best eaten as fresh as possible. Athough the fresh fruit (if completely submerged in the jelly) is preserved by the jelly, it can eventually go off.
Jelly made with milk
1-3 days – 72 hrs- best eaten fresh within 24 hrs, but I’ve kept milk jellies for a bit longer and they were fine.
Depending on what type of milk you use, dairy milks jellies are best eaten within 48 hrs, but plant based milks have much longer shelf life and are often O.K for up to 4-5 days.
Jelly made with fresh cream (as a layer or topping)
24 hrs – best eaten within 24 hrs or if keeping for longer, taste the cream before serving, just in case it’s off.
How to store your jelly in the fridge
Once your jelly is firmly set (this can take between 4-6 hours), cover the jelly in an airtight lid or use a strong cling film. This will help to keep the jelly in the fridge for longer, prevent it from drying out and absorbing any strong odour flavours from other foods in your fridge.
If you are storing leftovers of previously made jelly, for example you’ve made a large shape mould, took it out and it’s been partly eaten, I’d suggest that you need to keep the jelly in airtight container (or put it back into the mould, carefully) and cover it with an airtight lid or cling film.
If the jelly is half eaten and de-moulded it won’t hold it’s shape for a whole week, so it’s best to eat it within few days.
Alternatively, you can also cut up the jelly, divide it into several glasses or pudding bowls and when you are ready, serve it with fresh fruit, ice cream and drizzling of a homemade chocolate syrup or spice-infused cardamom syrup, which compliments the fruit flavours well.
Sugar free jelly
If you are using sugar free jelly, the shelf life is the same, but you might notice that after 2-3 days, your jelly will start to look a bit runny. This is because the sugar in regular jelly holds the structure of the jelly and also acts as a natural preservative.
If you know that you want to keep sugar free jelly in the fridge for few days (for example if you are making jelly pots for your children to take to school each day as part of their packed lunch), I’d suggest to make the jelly with slightly less water. This will make the jelly thicker and ensures that it will stay firm enough for few days and it will also help to set the jelly much faster.
What happens to jelly if you leave it in the fridge for too long?
The jelly won’t go off as such (unless it’s made with other ingredients than just gelatine, fruit juice, water and sugar), but eventually, it will go slightly watery and will start to lose its shape.
This is especially if you’ve made your jelly in mould and you’ve taken the jelly out already and now you are just storing the jelly leftovers (like half-eaten jelly).
This blog post was originally written on 5 June 2022 and last updated on 27 November 2022