Jello is one of the most popular gelatin-based desserts you can buy ready to eat or make at home. It’s typically served with yogurt, fruits, or as it is, while some people turn it into famous jello shots.
You can buy it pretty much anywhere, which makes it easy to buy in bulk. Unfortunately, this also makes it easy to store a few too many.
If you’re wondering if jello goes bad and how long you can keep it, you’ve come to the right place.
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Does Jello Go Bad
The sad truth is that our favorite wiggly childhood treat can go bad. It contains quite a lot of water, making spoilage inevitable.
Gelatin itself doesn’t go bad, but foods prepared with it can quickly go bad in just a few days.
In most cases, prepared jello lasts about seven to ten days in the refrigerator. Pre-packaged cups are sealed and meant to last a long time.
But, it all goes bad a week after opening, so make sure to think about how long that opened cup has been sitting in your fridge.
How Long Does Jello Last
Jello powder has a best-by date somewhere on the package. It indicates how long the product can retain its quality and not when it expires.
It’s a powder, so it’s usually safe to store for extended periods. But, keep in mind that it needs to turn water in gel, so try to use it at least a month past its best-by date.
Pre-made jello desserts you can buy at the store come with a best-by date as well. Again, this isn’t an expiration date, so your jello is likely good even past that day.
However, it can’t retain its quality for too long. In other words, jello desserts can only last a few days past their best-by date before some of the ingredients spoil.
Other jello types like the one you can make from the Jello gelatin mix last only up to three days. If kept longer, it turns rubbery and loses its taste.
|Dry jello mix||Up to a month past best-by date|
|Store-bought jello||3 to 5 days past the date|
|Prepared jello||2 to 3 days|
Still, let’s not forget that the way you store something has a significant impact on how long that item lasts. It’s the same for jello, so make sure to focus on proper storage to get the most out of your wiggly dessert.
Tips to Tell if Jello Has Gone Bad
Dry jello doesn’t go bad in the traditional way, although it can lose its quality and ability to turn in a gel. Still, it’s unlikely to make you sick if dry. If it came in contact with water, you might notice clumps or mold that indicates it’s gone bad.
Prepared jello desserts don’t have a long shelf life due to the amount of water they contain. In most cases, it takes a few days past the best-by date for the water to start spoiling.
It’s relatively easy to tell if your jello has gone bad by just looking at it. It often changes texture and appearance, so you probably won’t have any trouble with this.
Here’s what you should check:
Dry jello won’t go bad if you keep it in a dry and cool place. Even if the package is past the best-by date, you can still eat it. But, take a few minutes to inspect the powder or prepared jello leftovers you’re wondering about.
Any clumps, mold, specs, and bacteria you notice indicates the product has gone bad. In this case, you should throw it away because consuming this stuff will likely make you sick.
Prepared jello changes its texture after a few days, and this is relatively easy to figure out. First of all, it won’t be so wiggly and shaky, but stiffer. This is because the texture changes from being jiggly to rubbery. Rubbery jello is still safe to eat, but you probably won’t like the experience, and the taste is nearly out as well at this point.
The taste will start to diminish until the jelly dessert doesn’t taste like anything anymore. Of course, you shouldn’t do the taste test if it’s moldy because it’s dangerous, and you already know it’ll taste like mold.
Try it only if the appearance is unchanged. If you find the taste is still there, you can go ahead and enjoy your dessert. If it tastes like water, it’s time to throw it away.
Tips to Store Jello
Jello usually comes in small servings you can eat in one sitting. This makes it easy to store in the tiniest corners of your pantry and fridge.
How you store it plays a massive role in its longevity and shelf life, so this is something you should take seriously if you’re planning on buying big batches.
In most cases, it’s best to read the label to learn if the manufacturer has any storage suggestions. Powder jello can last quite a long time, but you have to keep it in a dry and cool place.
It’ll go bad rather quickly once it comes in contact with water. On the other hand, homemade jello is best if refrigerated and used up in a few days.
Store-bought is easy to store as it comes sealed, so there’s no way it can pick up on any odors from your fridge. Also, you don’t have to keep it in the refrigerator unless the room temperature is too high.
Here are some tips that can help you, depending on the type of jello you have at hand:
If you bought jello mix to prepare it to your liking, you should know it can last a long time. Still, it requires proper storage in order to last as long.
You can keep it in your pantry if it’s cool and dark to limit sun and heat exposure. You might want to transfer it into a new sealable bag if you can’t reseal the original package to prevent any moisture from getting in. Once it comes in contact with water, it’ll go bad sooner than you think.
The jello you made using store-bought powder can only last a few days. It’s not the same as ready-to-eat jello available at the stores, primarily due to packaging. Store-bought desserts are made in a controlled environment and sealed at the factory, whereas the one you make from powder isn’t.
Still, you have a few days to eat it, but that’s only if you refrigerate it. Also, make sure to place your dessert in an airtight container so that it doesn’t pick up on odors in your fridge.
This is the most convenient jello to have since it comes ready and all you have to do is open the package before you can enjoy it. It comes in many package sizes, although the smallest, single-serving ones are the most convenient since it’s unlikely you’ll leave it unfinished.
If you do, make sure to seal it before refrigerating it again, or it might pick up on other food odors. You have a few days to finish it, but check if it’s good before grabbing a spoonful.
The Risks of Consuming Expired Jello
As we said, powder jello can’t really go bad, so there’s no risk in using it. As long as it doesn’t have any clumps or mold, you’re good to go.
The story is a bit different with prepared mix and store-bought jello. These can go bad, changing both the texture and flavor.
Still, these are also unlikely to give you food poisoning. Jello contains a lot of water and sugar, and it’s pretty processed, so it doesn’t go bad as most food.
You probably won’t have any severe symptoms if you eat bad jello. You might experience nausea or vomiting if you find the taste so changed as to make you sick, but this is usually only if the jello is weeks old.
In most cases, it’s safer to throw it away if you’re not sure when you bought it or if it’s still good. This is especially the case with the jello you opened a week ago.
Can you Freeze Jello?
Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to freeze jello because the process changes its consistency. As jello freezes, ice crystals start forming from the water it contains.
This disrupts the bond of ingredients, causing them to separate. Once you go in to thaw it, you’ll find that it looks lumpy and non-eatable.
Still, it’s eatable, and eating it won’t be harmful to your health if you still choose to finish it.
There’s a reason why everybody loves jello – it’s fun, tasty, and readily available. Kids love it plain or with chocolate, while adults are fans of making jello shots with alcohol.
Either way, it’s one of those desserts we all like to have at hand. Sadly, it doesn’t have the longest shelf life, so you have only a few days to finish the cup you opened the other day.