March 29th, 2010

Non-Branded Gelatin Dessert

There are some brilliant, brilliant people over in the Jell-O marketing department, let me tell you. How else could they convince people to buy a whole range of “instant” products that take as much time to make as the from-scratch kind?

Making your own jello — er, excuse me, your own flavored gelatin — is so incredibly easy, y’all. Also, it’s cheaper. Oh, and healthier, too. Did you know gelatin is good for digestion? Jell-O used to advertise that on their products back in the 50s, but then their devious marketing guys figured out they could sell more if they promoted it as fun for kids! instead. No offense to Bill Cosby, I’m sure he’s not devious.

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Most people don’t even know you can buy this stuff, but every grocery store will have it in the baking aisle. It’s just plain gelatin. Basically, it’s a box of Jell-O, but without the chemicals, dyes, and artificial sugars. Well, actually it’s like¬†four boxes, since it comes with four envelopes. And yet it costs less. Crazy, huh?

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And here I have a bottle of Not Artificial Flavoring. Look how sneaky I am, tricking my kids into eating vegetables yet again! That’s another advantage of making it yourself, you can put in whatever blend of juices that you want. And every drop of real juice you put in is a whole drop more than that Jell-O box would have had. Just because they put a picture of a cherry on the box doesn’t mean there’s a single molecule of actual cherries in there.

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Pour one cup of your juice into a decent-sized bowl, and sprinkle one packet of gelatin all over the surface. Let it sit there for a minute. Meanwhile, heat another cup of plain water in the microwave. About one minute ought to get it to boiling, conveniently enough.

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Notice that I’m holding the glass with an oven mitt, because it does contain boiling water, after all. So be careful. This is exactly what you’d be doing with a box of Jell-O, by the way: put the packet in the cold liquid, then pour in the boiling liquid. You are expending¬†zero extra effort by making your own, and getting a whole ton of benefits.

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Now, if you’re making your gelatin with a fruit juice, there’s no need for extra sweetener. But if, like me, you’re secretly foisting purple vegetable juices upon your kids, you may want to add a Tablespoon or two of honey just to make it convincingly dessert-like.

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Once everything is thoroughly stirred together, just pour the whole bowl into a 9×9 glass baking dish. I’m proud to say I do not now, nor have I ever owned a jello mold — but if you do, hey, go for it!

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Place it in the fridge for 3 hours, and voila! If you want, you can go all crazy with fun cookie cutter shapes, or you can just cut the whole thing into cubes like boring old me.

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This recipe actually makes a pretty firm gelatin, because I like to pop several of these cubes into my kids’ lunchboxes, and I don’t want them reduced to slush by the time they’re ready to eat. If you want a softer result, just add another 1/2 cup of juice to the recipe, or even a full cup if you’ve misplaced your dentures, or had your wisdom teeth pulled recently. Of course, you could also pour them directly into tiny serving cups before chilling, so they’d be ready to throw in a backpack or purse at a moment’s notice.

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Happy Eating!

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Non-Branded Gelatin Dessert

1 envelope plain Knox gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1-2 cups fruit or vegetable juice
1-2 Tbs honey, if desired

 

2 comments to Non-Branded Gelatin Dessert

  • xoxoxoBruce

    Whoa! Your microwave will bring a cup of water to a boil in one minute? I want one of those! Anyway, thanks for the tip, now I can make my Jello… er, gelatin shots, for cheap.

  • carthagemom

    I kept thinking how I could possibly find or make jello for my son that didn’t involve the food dyes (which was my primary concern) without having to order some mix online. It occurred to me to make my own with Knox and fruit juice. I thought I was super smart but see that others have discovered the same trick. The trick has been finding juices that have that traditional “Jell-O” flavor without the bite of the juice flavor. I have also mixed fruit with it. I found that this can actually last in the fridge for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long!

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