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May 19, 2006 04:55 AM

J-E-L-L-O problems

  • t

(first of all, yes i failed at making the simplest of all things, jello) So, i followed the instructions. 2 cups hot water, 2 cups cold. can mix in fruit if theyre drained. So I mixed in some fresh pineapples into mine and the stupid jello did not set. its still a liquid not a solid, earlier today i put in some knox gelatine (4 packets). that did not do the trick neither. and its been 96 hours total so time isnt the problem? im guessing A) hot water was too hot and destroyed the original gelatine particles. B) pineapple acid or something else inhibited gelatine from doing its thing. C) 2nd time i put in gelatine the gelatine mixtures temperature was not high enough to "activate" it.

any suggestions of what went wrong would be helpful for the next try. thanks in advance - tom

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  1. I'll let Alton Brown or someone else tell you why, but I'm guessing it's something along your option B.

    On my box, right under "TO ADD FRUIT OR VEGETABLES..." there is a block of red text.

    "NOTE: Do not use fresh or frozen pineapple, kiwi, gingerroot, papya, figs, or guava. Gelatin will not set."

    But vegetables? Who puts veggies in JELL-O? Which veggies in which flavors of gelatin?

    21 Replies
    1. re: R.B.

      Yep, you can't add fresh pineapple to jello, but you can add canned.

      As to who adds vegetables to jello... well I do. I have a recipe for a carrot salad that's actually very refreshing as a summer side dish. There are many savory uses for that pesky box of jello, not all sweet.


      1. re: TrishUntrapped

        My mom makes a great Jello salad with carrot and CANNED pineapple. It is one of my favorites.

        1. re: Kelly

          I'd like the recipe for both of these if you are willing ot share.



          1. re: LisaN

            Here is the standard recipe for Jello Carrot Salad... Mine has pineapple in it also. I bet all our recipes are the same or similar. This recipe is easily doubled.

            Carrot Salad

            1 small box lemon jello
            1 small (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drain reserve the juice
            1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded carrots
            1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)
            1 cup hot water
            cold water

            1. In a large bowl combine jello and hot water and stir to dissolve. In a measuring cup, pour the reserved pineapple juice and add cold water to make one cup. Add juice/water to dissolved jello and stir.
            2. Refrigerate for about a half hour (or longer) until jello is cool and starting to thicken. Stir in pineapple, carrots and celery (optional).
            3. Refrigerate several hours until set.

            This can be made either in a mold and unmolded, or just in a very nice bowl, not unmolded.

            1. re: TrishUntrapped

              Ya the favorite 'go-to' jello at all our pot lucks after a family funerals was always the shredded carrot/fine chopped celery version. The jello was alway the 'electric green' one.
              No fruit.

        2. re: TrishUntrapped

          I have found that even with canned pineapple, my recipe for strawberry jello salad (with pineapple and banana) calls for one envelope of Knox gelatin dissolved in 1/3 cup warm (not hot) water. I have made this salad often and it has never failed. But the gelatin is stirred in after the strawberry jello has been dissolved by hot water and then cool water added to it. Then the Knox gelatin solution.

          1. re: cajungirl

            I make fresh pineapple 'jello' using canned pineaple and Knox. I never need more gelatin as long as the gelatin to liquid/fruit ration is the same ... 2 cups liquid to one pack of jello. You might be throwing the ration off with the extra pineapple and tha's the reason you need the extra Knox.

          2. re: TrishUntrapped

            Well, I got on to find out why my jello didn't set and here it is, I used fresh pineapple that I had frozen! That is the pits! I have to start over? All that fruit gone to waste, hmmm, there must be something I can do???!!! I have strawberries, bananas and pineapple in there!

            1. re: mspeidel

              Drain the fruit mix, perhaps mix in a small amount of sour cream or sour cream plus mayo. Just enough so the fruit is still featured. The sour cream will probably change color depending on what flavor Jello you used. Don't say anything to anybody. It will still taste good but will be more like an ambrosia fruit salad. Adding mini marshmallows and/or coconut is up to you.

              1. re: dfrostnh

                You devious devil you!! I love it! I'd leave out the mayo, myself, but I adore rescuing a disaster and making it a "hey, this is good - how did you make it? Taste's a bit like Jello . . . ."

          3. re: R.B.

            Yeah the problem with all of those fruits are that they have enzymes that act to break down proteins, gelatins and cell structures. That's why people marinade in pineapple juice, and why meat tenderizers are often made of papaein...the papaya enzyme.

            1. re: Aaron

              Marinades are usually made with canned pineapple juice, though, and as has been pointed out, the enzyme is destroyed by heat (canning), so I don't think the bromelain does anything to the meat except flavor it.

            2. re: R.B.
              Diane in Bexley

              Yup, I make tomato aspic with veggies & lemon Jello. I add some lemon juice to make it less sweet, cold tomato juice, diced scallions, celery, a little hot sauce or Tabasco, diced green or red peppers, sometimes green or black olives. If you put this in a ring mold, you can make a shrimp or seafood salad and pile in the middle. Very elegant for ladies lunch or summertime. Yum!

              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                Yes, this is very delicious! Just made it for a luncheon for my mother n laws lady friends! There plates were empty. She made mayonaise with a little speck of milk for a topping.

              2. re: R.B.

                At many of my family gatherings there features a particularly vile (IMO) dish of tomato aspic - lemon jello mixed with tomato juice, with avocados and chopped celery. Served with mayo. My grandmother adores it. My mother loves it. These people are usually good cooks, and my mother at least is quite the foodie. It's a mystery.

                1. re: R.B.

                  I just made jello yesterday and it didn't set that why I'm looking it up myself, I also,used fresh pineapple in one bowl and then just plain strawberry jello,in another incase they don't like pineapple.. 2 days later it's still liquid.. I put them both in the freezer and it was like a slushy.. Both of them. So it really dosnt matter if you add fruit or not.. I went step by step with the directions and it would not turn to jello. I think the pkg at the stores could be old, or maybe they missed the gelatin ingrediant to make it turn to jello. Not really sure. I'm going to keep searching.. Def not because of fresh fruit..

                  1. re: Westcoastdj80

                    I think it's because you left out the vodka.

                    1. re: Westcoastdj80

                      A little Plaster of Paris should firm it up.

                    2. re: R.B.

                      Hi J-E-L-L-O problem person.

                      The reason your gelatin didn't set up is the FRESH pineapple.

                      By now you may have received this feedback. Just in case it's still a mystery, here's the skinny on preventing this in the future.

                      Use Canned Pineapple ONLY. There is a protein-lysing enzyme, think marinading tenderizer, in fresh pineapple that breaks done the protein in gelatin. This enzyme is gone in canned pineapple.

                      Rule of Thumb of making J-E-L-L-O...only use canned fruits.

                      Hope this helped.

                      1. re: R.B.

                        I have a book on the history of convenience foods that explains that having an electric refrigerator was a) necessary for making Jello and b) an expensive luxury in the 1920's and 1930's so that Jello salads and desserts became fashionable (so you could show off having a Frigidaire). Yes, vegetables were very commonly used in Jello salads, especially grated carrot and shredded cabbage. My grandma could sure show us how that's done. I still make her salad every Thanksgiving and Christmas: orange Jello with grated carrot and drained crushed pineapple. Every time I make it, I remember her hand-grating carrots for hours and wish I could introduce her to my Cuisinart, which makes short work of raw carrots in about 30 seconds.

                        1. re: Querencia

                          With all respect to granny, that orange/carrot/pineapple combo is VERY common. Our next-door neighbor (my best childhood friend's mom) made it 60 yrs ago. I still like it though I have never considered it a salad. It was an after-school treaat, or dessert.

                      2. Exactly -- it's an enzyme in pineapple that breaks down the gelatin. Try a different type of fruit.


                        1. Hello,

                          As you know by now, the problem is the raw pineapple, it has an enzyme that causes the jello to not set up. I also wanted to add, that if you are going to add fruit to your jello, use slightly less water than it calls for, so it will set up a little firmer. For example, instead of 2 cups hot water and 2 cups cold water, use 2 cups hot water and 1 to 1.5 cups cold water.

                          One of my favorite jello salads is orange jello with canned crushed pineapple and shredded carrots in it, with a spoonful of sour cream on top, yum!

                          1. It's not a problem with the jello. The box of Jello should say on it not to add certain fruits, and fresh pineapple is one of those mentioned.

                            1. So as a biologist I was eager to do some research. lets see if i can state this clearly. So gelatin is indeed a form of collagen which is made from polypeptides designed for structural strength and integrity. so the pineapple comes into play with an enzyme called bromelain. I'm not completely sure but as a proteolytic enzyme I believe it just cleaves off a certain susceptible part of the amino acid sequence of the collagen subunits. Thus, preventing reformation of collagenous polypeptides by breaking key bonds needed for collagen to form within the jello.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tom S.
                                Carissa Anderson

                                Hi, im wondering if you can lead me to a place where i can find more information on this subject. I am in the process of testing Jell-O and its Enzymes for a High School Biology Project and would greatly appreciate you help in this subject. Thank you!

                                1. re: tom S.

                                  LOL, research project, yeah yeah that's what it was. You know, cooking really is one of those things where it really does pay to read the directions/instructions. *smile*