Does gelatin go bad? This popular snack is sold in different forms, which affects its shelf life. Gelatin could go bad but only when it’s been packed improperly or it’s been stored for so long. Powdered or dry gelatin, for example, has a different shelf life than ready to eat gelatin snack (gelatin cups). Since powdered gelatin does not contain moisture at all, it will keep for a long, long, time.
Ready to eat gelatin snacks will only keep for a few months. These products are best consumed immediately for optimal flavor. The way ready to eat gelatin products were packed could also lengthen or shorten their shelf life. If the product is poorly packed or there are leaks, the shelf life of prepared gelatin products decreases. The opposite is true for sealed or unopened packs of ready eat gelatin products. As long as they are kept sealed and stored in ideal temperature, they should keep for a long time.
Image used under Creative Commons from Andrea.Pacheco
How to Store Gelatin?
Storing Powdered or Dry Gelatin
Dry gelatin is often packed in a cardboard box and the product itself is sealed in a plastic packet. Since the packaging offers two layers of protection, you can store dry gelatin in the pantry. It will keep indefinitely. Just make sure to keep the product away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. If the gelatin has been exposed to moisture, the gelatin won’t set properly once it’s been used.
Opened packs of dry gelatin, on the other hand, have a short shelf life. Once the package has been opened, you have to consume the entire product otherwise; it will spoil within 3 months or less in the pantry. We don’t recommend storing opened packs of dry gelatin in the fridge. The chilly temperature may cause the powdered gelatin to clump together.
Storing Prepared or Ready-to-Eat Gelatin
Unopened packs of prepared or ready-to-eat gelatin will keep for months in the pantry. But you can extend the shelf life of this product even more if you store it in the fridge. This method is perfect for gelatin that’s nearing its expiration date. Prepared gelatin is usually sold in individually sealed cups so no additional prep is needed to store the product in the pantry or fridge.
But for opened cups of gelatin, don’t leave them sitting at room temperature for too long. They will either melt or they will go bad at some point. In the fridge, you can keep an opened cup of gelatin for a short time. Just use a cling wrap to cover the top of the container. For opened packs of gelatin, we do not recommend storing these in the fridge for a long time. They will no longer taste as good when kept for too long.
Storing Homemade Gelatin
Say you made gelatin at home, how do you store the leftovers for later? Transfer the gelatin in an opaque, airtight container to keep moisture and other contaminants away. Refrigerate the gelatin below 40° Fahrenheit. The sooner you refrigerate the gelatin, the better the results.
Can you freeze gelatin? We do not recommend freezing gelatin at all. The chilly temperature may alter the composition of the product, causing it to not set once used. Ready to eat gelatin products should never be frozen as well. Once you thaw these products, the gelatinous bond that holds the gelatin will melt, causing the gelatin to separate or melt once thawed!
Image used under Creative Commons from Steven Depolo
Shelf Life of Gelatin
Powdered gelatin has a lengthy shelf life. When kept unopened, powdered gelatin will keep indefinitely in the pantry. These products often come with a use-by-date for optimal quality and flavor. However, dry gelatin remains usable beyond the use-by-date. Once the dry gelatin has been opened, however, its shelf life is drastically reduced to 3 months in the pantry.
When it comes to unopened packs of prepared or ready to eat gelatin cups, these products should keep for 3 to 4 months in the pantry and about a year to a year and a half in the fridge. For opened cups of gelatin, these will only keep for a week or two in the fridge.
How to Tell if Gelatin has Gone Bad?
It’s hard to tell if powdered gelatin is no longer safe to eat. But if you’re seeing slight to significant changes in color or it develops an off odor, discard the product. For prepared gelatin, discard the product if it has taken on a watery consistency. Changes in color or taste are signs that the prepared gelatin is no longer safe to eat. If you are seeing signs of mold growth, toss the product in the trash.
Can gelatin go bad? This recess staple is not just fun to eat; it’s a tasty snack that kids and adults alike love. But remember, gelatin won’t keep forever so always store this product properly. We’ve already outlined all the important storage methods above so keep these tips in mind the next time you find yourself with too many gelatin packs in your hand.