My favourite tips on how to make jelly set faster at home, including using cold water, ice cubes, fridge and also few freezer tricks. Including step by step method on how to speed up the jelly setting process and make your jelly set before your party guests arrive!
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 setting process will apply to ‘jello’ too.
What can you do to speed up the jelly setting process?
Normally it takes about 2-4 hrs to set jelly in the fridge. There is actually quite a lot of things you can do speed up the process of setting your jelly, which is why I thought I’d share with you my tried and tested tips on jelly making at home.
JELLY & PUDDING RECIPES
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Use always the coolest place in your fridge
Place the jelly in the coolest place in your fridge. This is usually at the bottom or if you have a glass shelf. Move the jelly mould to another cold spot after 10 minutes or so and keep doing this until the jelly is set.
Lower the temperature in your fridge
If you have a lot of other food in the fridge and on the top of that you are trying to cool down and set a large jelly mould, your fridge might struggle a bit. If you can, turn down the temperature of your fridge to say 0 Celsius or even lower to lower the temperature of your fridge.
Make sure that you put the temperature dial back up – domestic fridges should be between 3-5 Celsius – after you’ve set your jelly successfully.
Organise and clear out your fridge
I always make sure that I leave a lot of space between the jelly pots or glasses and also between all my other food in the fridge. Ideally you want to clear out one shelf in your fridge, so that you have enough space and you get the cold air circulating around the jelly.
Add ice cubes to a large container
You can also get a very large container, add loads of ice cubes and place the jelly mould on top of the ice cubes. Place the whole container in the fridge. The icecubes will give the jelly a bit of a head start.
Use freezer to set your jelly
You have to be a bit careful with this method, because if you leave the jelly to freeze too quickly and completely you might end up with a frozen fruit juice rather than a jelly. This is because the gelatine needs to have the time to develop whilst it’s slowly cooling down.
To speed up the jelly setting process using freezer, make the jelly as normally, leave it to cool down a bit in a room temperature (about 20-30 minutes), then move to fridge (30 minutes) and then move to freezer (60 -90 minutes).
You can put the freezer on the lowest setting, if you can adjust the temperature. Ours goes to – 24 C. You can also put the jelly moulds in the coldest part of your freezer (this is usually the bottom draw).
Make sure that you check every 20 minutes to see if the jelly is setting and take it out just before it starts to freeze over. Afterwards, place the jelly back in the fridge until you want to serve it. It will keep for few days in the fridge and you can also freeze your jelly completely if you want to (after it’s been set).
Cool down the jelly mould in advance
Cooling down the jelly mould in advance (in fridge) – providing that you are using a traditional thick glass or metal jelly mould – also helps.
I often use regular water drinking glasses and leave them in the fridge for few hours to chill them before I pour the jelly in.
Please don’t be tempted to use freezer to cool down your glass moulds or glasses as the freezing cold might react with the glass and shatter it. If you were to leave the glass in for say 5-10 minutes, that would be fine, but you do need to time it to make sure you don’t forget to leave them in.
Use iced water or ice cubes in the jelly recipe
Instead of water (when you are making the recipe) use the equivalent of the water as an ice. You can either weight out the water in advance and then freeze it or if you are using ice cubes, weight out the water volume of one ice cube and calculate the water proportion based on that.
Use less water or fruit juice in your jelly
Make the jelly up with slightly less water than recommended. This will make slightly firmer jelly and it will set quicker
Use smaller jelly mould
Instead of using one large jelly mould, divide the jelly into smaller portions. These will cool down quicker and set quicker too.
Keep your jelly plain
If you are not sure whether the fruit or other ingredients you want to add to your jelly are going to help the jelly to set or prevent it from setting – leave them out!
Make the jelly plain and then add the fresh fruit as a topping just before you serve your jelly.
Make sure you don’t use ingredients that will slow down the setting process
Some fresh fruits (like papaya, pineapple or kiwi) includes enzymes that slow down the gelatine firming up and sometimes might prevent it from setting completely. Avoid using these fruits if you want your jelly to set fast.
Alcohol is another ingredient that prevents jelly from setting. If you do want to include alcohol in the jelly, make sure that you use less water to make the jelly slightly firmer to counteract the negative effect of the alcohol on setting your jelly.
Lemon juice or lime juice also prevents your jelly from setting, so don’t add too much lemon or lime juice to your jelly when you make it.
How to set jelly fast
Whilst you can use any of the above tips to help you to set your jelly fast, here is the step by step process I usually follow.
Make up the jelly with 1/3 boiling water (instead of 1/2 water as usually) and stir to dissolve the jelly cubes in a large metal or glass bowl
Place the bowl in a sink with cold water – you can also add some ice cubes to the water to cool it down. Stir the jelly slowly and leave for few minutes to cool down completely
Add the rest of the water or liquid (part of this can be iced water or ice cubes, but weigh or measure correctly the amount before adding it in). Use slightly less water or liquid if you want your jelly to set firmer.
Pour into your jelly moulds and place into the fridge
This method will cut the jelly setting time by at least 1/3 of the original time.
Got another quick tip on how long does jelly take to set? Share it with me in the comments below!
This blog post was originally written on 6 June 2022 and last updated on 26 November 2022