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Despite being a pretty straightforward dessert, many things can go wrong with your jelly. And the most frustrating part is when your jelly hasn’t even started to set even after three hours in the refrigerator.
And you start wondering what could have gone wrong with your dessert; Perhaps you left the refrigerator door open? Or maybe you didn’t measure the ingredients properly?
So, how long does it take jelly to set?
Standard jelly takes around 3-4 hours to set in the fridge properly. It is highly suggested to keep the fridge temperature at 5 degrees Celsius. Also, ensure the jelly is in the coldest section of your fridge, and the fridge door is closed correctly.
This article will discuss why your jelly isn’t setting properly and how you can help speed things up!
How long does jelly take to set in the fridge?
If you have guests arriving within 4 to 5 hours, and your jelly isn't set yet, try placing it in the fridge. Once you place the jelly in the fridge, it will take nearly 3 to 4 hours for the jelly to set. You can check the jelly with a spoon and simply touch it to check whether it's ready.
However, the setting process can vary depending on two factors:
- Size of the jelly
- Your fridge's temperature
If you are working with a larger-sized jelly, the time limit of 3 to 4 hours may not work, and you'll have to give it more time.
How long does jelly take to set in the freezer?
If you are in a hurry and need to make a delicious jelly ASAP, a freezer is your best option. For starters, place your jelly in a bowl and then carefully in your freezer.
Make sure your jelly is level so you won't have deformed jelly. Placing your jelly in the freezer will help cut its setting time in half, and your jelly will be ready within 1 to 2 hours.
Important Tip: Keep checking the jelly every 20 to 30 minutes. This will help avoid your jelly from getting too frosty. What's more, since frozen jelly doesn't look presentable, you may lose your jelly craving.
How does jelly set?
The setting process of jelly varies with temperature. The lower the temperature, the firmer the jelly. While this may be a shock to you, jelly isn't a vegetarian dessert. There is gelatin present in jelly that initiates the setting process. Gelatin comes from raw collagen: a fibrous protein found in different animal bones and tissues.
The water molecules get entrapped in the gelatin filaments, reducing the number of free water molecules and forming a jelly. When you place jelly to set at room temperature or in the fridge — and it starts becoming thicker — this is what happens inside.
You'd be surprised to know that gelatin is present everywhere, from fruit juices to ice creams. Did you know how people in old times made gelatin when it wasn't available in shops? They made the gelatin at home by boiling bones. Sometimes, isinglass — gelatin from fish — was also used.
However, today there are various alternatives to gelatin. You can add starch or natural pectin instead of gelatin into your dessert, and the result would be the same. But starch and pectin are sugars (carbohydrates), so they are rich in energy. This is something gelatin lacks.
Why is my jelly not setting?
Putting all your hard work only to get a runny jelly, in the end, is frustrating. There are various reasons for your jelly not setting. Let's have a quick look at a few common reasons:
Too low or bad pectin
Pectin plays a significant role in the jelly setting. When you heat pectin with a jelly mixture, the sugar and acid present in the mixture react with pectin to form a gel. If you don't add a sufficient amount of pectin to jelly, the gel doesn't form, and your jelly won’t set.
Bad or expired pectin also prevents the jelly from setting. Keep the pectin in an airtight container to avoid it from getting expired.
Wrong fruit measurement
If the recipe asks for fruit, you should mash it before weighing. Add the rest of the ingredients according to the quantity of mashed fruit.
Measuring fruits before mashing will result in a lower fruit quantity than required. Since, other ingredients like sugar, pectin, etc., are in excess, this ruins the texture of your jelly, preventing it from setting properly.
Doubling the recipe
You may want to save time by doubling the recipe while cooking. But this doesn't go well with jam and jellies. Using more than 6 to 7 cups of crushed fruit causes problems in your jelly texture. Some parts of the jelly overcook, and some remain uncooked. This prevents your jelly from setting, and you will end up with a runny mixture.
Can you make jelly set faster?
Jelly is a delicious dessert and tastes heavenly when added to custard or pudding. If you have guests coming over and want to quicken the jelly setting process, follow these steps:
- Use a metal mold instead of plastic or glass molds because jelly sets quicker in a metal mold.
- Chill the jelly mold by placing it in the fridge for almost 10 minutes before preparing jelly in it.
- While the mold is in the fridge, start preparing the jelly mixture. Carefully follow the recipe and add all the ingredients in adequate quantity.
- Add ice cubes in place of cold water and stir the jelly mixture vigorously. After some time, remove the undissolved ice cubes from the mixture.
- Take out the metal jelly mold from the fridge and add the jelly mixture. Place the mold containing jelly back in the refrigerator and wait for 30 min to 1 hour. Your firm and tasty jelly are ready to be served.
Important Tip: If you plan to make a layered jelly, chill each layer until it sets slightly, and then pour the next layer over it.
How to thicken runny jelly?
Most folks like their jelly a little soft and runny, so it quickly spreads on their favorite desserts. If you want to thicken your jelly, here are three easy ways:
Cook your jelly longer
If you follow the typical jelly-making recipe on the jelly box, it asks you to boil the jelly in water for one minute. But this results in a slightly runny jelly consistency.
Add extra pectin
If your jelly is too soft and runny, add more pectin. Your jelly will become firmer and thicker. But how much pectin per jelly batch? One box of pectin is enough to give your jelly a thick texture.
Place in the fridge
If you like thicker jelly, place the jelly mold in the fridge. It quickens the jelly setting time, resulting in a firmer consistency. You can take the jelly mold out of the fridge 3 to 4 hours later.
How do you know when jelly is set?
If you don’t want to end up with a runny jelly after doing all the hard work, follow these simple steps:
- Place two to three metal plates in the freezer or fridge while cooking the mixture.
- Take out the chilled plates from your fridge when the mixture gets thick. Place one tablespoon of jelly mixture on the plate. Ensure the mixture is thick enough and not a watery substance running on the plate.
- After that, put the chilled plate with the jelly mixture back in the fridge. Let it cool down for one to two minutes.
- Take out the plate and gently check the jelly with your finger. Your jelly is set and ready if your finger gets in easily, forming wrinkles on the upper surface.
- Now place all the jelly mixture in a jelly mold and place it in the fridge to set.
Besides being delicious, jelly adds a pretty touch to your dessert. While making a perfect jelly in your first go is hard, practice makes perfect.
Keep in mind that jelly takes time to set properly at room temperature. You can help quicken the setting process by placing it in the fridge or refrigerator. If you like your jelly to be wobbly and extra sweet, add fruits, including mango, apples, or pineapple, to the jelly mixture.