We all know just how annoying it can be to put all your time and effort into making a dessert and not have it turn out the way you’ve expected. As simple as jello is to make, there are still some possible setbacks.
In this article, we will touch upon both the methods of making the jello that we consider to be pretty much foolproof, as well as the techniques you can use to fix jello that is not setting, no matter what you try.
Keep on reading to discover our little cooking hacks for perfect jello every single time!
Why is your jello not setting?
If your jello didn’t set, there could be a few reasons behind it. As we’ve said, as simple as it seems it is to make good jello, there are some things that could go wrong. Today we’ll talk about how to prevent them – as well as to fix botched jello.
1. Fruit enzymes
One of the most common reasons why your jello won’t set is the fruit you choose to put in it. Certain fruits, including mango, guava, kiwi, figs, papaya, ginger, and pineapple, have certain enzymes that will prevent the jello from properly setting.
However, if you’ve already included these fruits in your jello, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be saved. In the next section we will talk more about how to fix gelatin that didn’t set, so definitely stay tuned for that.
The reason why these fruits disrupt the setting process in the jello is that the enzymes in them break important chemical bonds in a protein. And since gelatin is practically collagen, it is no wonder these enzymes create a problem in your jello.
However, it is safe to say that only fresh fruit will cause this problem. The next time you want to put any of these fruits in your jello, make sure you use canned fruit. You can also heat up the fresh fruit which will inactivate these enzymes.
2. Mistake in the jello making process
When making the jello, you need to follow the instructions for the particular type of gelatin you’re using. The gelatin variety you’ve bought may come with some specific instructions that you should follow to the T.
In case you’re using an instant jello mix, you will probably have to add a certain amount of boiling water to the mix. This will create a coherent mixture.
Next, add some cold water and stir enough for the jello mix to dissolve completely. Afterward, it should sit in your refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Allow the mixture to achieve the desired consistency and texture.
If instead, you’re using gelatin powder to make jello, the process will be slightly different. In this case, combine the desired liquid (water or fruit juice) with the gelatin. Then, whisk it up and allow the mixture to rest for about 5 minutes.
The gelatin will now react and bloom. While waiting for the gelatin to react, heat up the remaining liquid (water/juice) but don’t allow it to boil. Remove it from the heat and mix it into the mixture you’ve set aside.
Pour the mixture into desired containers and allow the jello to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving. Some gelatin types may require the jello to rest a bit longer.
To make sure that the jello is setting properly, check it from time to time and see if it is getting that wiggly, gelatin-y structure. If the texture isn’t as thick as you’d want it to be after 4 hours, allow it to rest for a bit longer.
It is necessary to seal the jello properly to allow the gelatin to do its magic. Also, it will prevent the absorption of any other flavors and aromas from your fridge.
How to fix jello that didn’t set?
Whether you haven’t followed all the instructions, or you’ve used fresh fruit that disrupted the setting process, there are certain methods you can use to fix watery jello. Here are some of the best techniques you can use to improve your jello if it didn’t set.
1. Give it some more time
Sometimes the problem isn’t in the jello structure or the way you’ve made it, but in the setting process itself. The jello needs at least 4 hours in the fridge to completely set. Sometimes you should just leave it a bit longer, so make sure to check it frequently.
The setting time largely depends on the type of gelatin you’re using, and certain mixtures need 6 hours minimum to be fully set. Therefore, in this case, the best piece of advice we can give you is to be patient and wait a bit longer.
2. Re-do the jello
Sometimes what you’ll need to do to salvage the jello is cook it all over again. This time around, it is necessary to remove all the fruits we’ve mentioned above. They could be releasing enzymes that break up the protein in the gelatin.
Instead of fresh or frozen fruit, you can always add canned fruits or fruit pieces that you’ve heated up. These types of processed fruits will pretty much destroy the enzymes in question. After all, you can simply choose different kinds of fruit to use.
Also, remember to dissolve the gelatin mixture/powder in hot/boiling water (depending on what the instructions say). Make sure there are no lumps before adding some cold water to the mix.
In some cases, you will have to wait for the gelatin to activate before you add cold water to the mixture. Also, ensure that the gelatin has dissolved completely before adding cold water and placing it in the fridge to set.
It is also possible to salvage your jello before it has even begun to set by removing fruits such as mango, papaya, pineapple, figs, kiwi, guava, as well as ginger. After removing the fruits, place the jello back into the fridge and allow it to set.
In some cases, removing the fruits in time will be enough for the jello to start setting properly.
However, if you notice the gelatin not setting even after you’ve removed the fruit, it could be that you’ve waited for too long. Unfortunately, the enzymes may have started breaking up the protein.
3. Mix the sugar with the gelatin
If you’re in a rush and you want to get jello to set faster, make sure you’re mixing the sugar with the gelatin powder before adding water. Adding the sugar afterward may disrupt the structure and slow down the setting process.
It is necessary to dissolve the gelatin and the sugar so that you create a seamless mixture before adding any remaining liquid. Any lumps or pieces of ice/undissolved gelatin should be removed before placing the jello into the fridge.
Therefore, if you want to make a gelatin set faster, ensure that the mixture is well-stirred. Both the gelatin and the sugar need to have completely dissolved. Also, it is necessary to follow the specific instructions for the type of gelatin or jello mix you’re using.
4. Don’t freeze the jello
While you may think that freezing would thicken jello, it could actually result in an even bigger problem. Freezing could normally speed up the setting process of some other foods, but this is generally not the case with jello.
As jello has a very particular structure, different from most foods, it won’t react as you expect when you try to freeze it.
Often, when frozen, jello can lose its elasticity and become mushy and watery due to the ice melting into its structure. Instead of freezing the jello, you can try placing the container with the jello in a bowl filled with ice.
However, if you’re trying this trick, make sure that the jello isn’t actually in contact with the ice.
Can you eat jello that didn’t set?
When it comes to eating jello that hasn’t been properly set, this shouldn’t be an issue for your body.
This is especially true if you’re using gelatin powder and making some homemade jello. Gelatin powder is essentially collagen which is a protein we naturally produce in the body.
Therefore, if your jello didn’t set properly and it is still a bit watery even after you’ve refrigerated it for hours, you can still use it in your desserts. Jello not setting doesn’t necessarily mean that you should throw it away.
If you’re in a rush and you don’t have enough time to make a new batch, you can always use the jello you have for some quick recipes. Jello that hasn’t settled is a great choice for jello slushie, pie or cake filling, or even a delicious fluff jello salad.
If you love a creamy texture, you could always add some whipped topping to watery jello and mix it all together into a beautiful, fluffy mouse. This kind of dessert can be served on its own or poured on top of cakes, cookies, and ice cream.
Passionate chef, in love with everything related to food and cooking it to perfection!