Jelly Setting Tips & More!
Despite being one of the easier desserts to make, jelly isn’t half stressful. It starts off fairly straightforward but the doubt starts creeping in when the jelly has been in the fridge for about 2 hours and hasn’t even started to set yet.
You start asking yourself questions like; Did you do something wrong? Is the fridge not cold enough? Had the jelly mix gone bad?
Doubt & stress is further intensified when you have guests arriving that are expecting a bowl of your famous jelly you’ve been bigging up for weeks.
Well, we are here to help put your fears at ease! In this article, we will explore all things jelly and seek to clarify a few things when it comes to setting times and if it’s possible to speed things up.
So...How long does jelly take to set?
In most cases, the standard jelly will take between 3 & 4 hours to set in a fridge with the temperature set to 5C. Now this will vary depending on how cold your fridge and the amount of jelly you are making but this time frame is usually how long it takes.
To keep your stress levels to an absolute minimum, its always a good idea to make your jelly the day before. This should give the jelly more than enough time to set and for the desired texture to be achieved.
How long does jelly take to set in the freezer?
If you are in a bit of a pinch and need to speed up the setting process, then the freezer could be your new best friend. Setting jelly in the freezer usually halves the amount of time needed for the desert to set. So instead of the 3 & 4 hours it takes in the fridge, the jelly will take between 1 & 2 hours to set in the freezer. Again, this will largely depend on how cold your freezer is and how much jelly you are making, but 1-2 hours is a good rule of thumb.
Be sure to regularly check on your jelly once it is in the freezer. The worst thing that can happen is that you leave it in there too long and it actually freezes. Frozen jelly will completely change its structure and become crystalised.
How long does jelly take to set in the fridge?
As we highlighted above, the jelly will take around 3 – 4 hours to set completely in the fridge.
What Causes Jelly to set?
Without going too deep into the scientific background of jelly making, there are three key chemical components that help jelly achieve its eventual consistency; pectin, sugar and acids.
The first component Pectin is most commonly found in fruits and is released during the boiling stage of jelly making. Once release, pectin chains will bind to one another and form a gel network. This gel network will be achieved once the setting point is reached, around 104C. After this network has been formed and the jelly starts to cool, the pectin chains will trap the excess water content within the network, leading to the setting of the jelly.
The sugar component of jelly helps the pectin form its gel network but drawing water to itself. This decreases the ability of the pectin to remain in separate chains and promotes the creation of the aforementioned network.
The final component that makes up the triumvirate of jelly setting ability is acid. Acids commonly found in fruits such as citric acid will help balance the negative charges found on the molecules of the pectin. Just like the sugar, this will help promote the creation of the gel network and lead to a consistent setting.
What can you do to speed up the setting process?
Here are a couple of tips and tricks you can use to speed up the process of setting jelly:
- Position your jelly in the coolest part of your fridge. This is usually right at the back on the bottom shelf.
- Use an ice bath to rapidly cool down your jelly once it’s finished cooking. In a large bowl place a decent amount of ice cubes and fill it with cold water. Place your jelly mould into the ice bath and allow to cool rapidly. Before all of the ice cubes have melted, remove the jelly and repeat this process necessary.
- Place your jelly moulds into the fridge in advance. This will cool the mould down and should speed up the setting process.
- Use smaller moulds for your jellies.
- Use your freezer to set the jelly in half the time.
What's slows down the setting process?
There are a couple of things that can slow down the setting process of jelly. One of the more common things is the addition of alcohol. Adding alcohol to jelly will slow down the entire setting process quite considerably so it’s a good idea to make your alcoholic jelly even further in advance.
The enzymes found in fresh pineapples will also affect the setting time of your jelly. These enzymes will actually break down the pectin and slow down the creation of the gel network that causes the jelly to set.
6 Reasons Why Your Jelly Didn't Set
- You didn’t cook the jelly long enough to reach the setting point. The setting point for jelly is around 104C so bring the mixture back to boil and continue to cook for around 1 to 2 minutes.
- It hasn’t completely cooled. If possible, try to make your jelly the day before so it has more than enough time to cool completely.
- You overcooked the jelly. Overcooking the jelly will break down the pectin chains and stop the gel network from forming.
- You didn’t follow the recipe. Jelly making is a science. The ratio’s of ingredients is important and if you didn’t follow them, you jelly will likely not set.
- The pectin has gone bad. If you are using old pectin that has not been stored correctly, it is likely your jelly will not set.
- You added too much water. If you’ve added too much water, the solution is to add more pectin to balance things out.
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Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.
This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!