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I made “JELLO” !!! ... So easy, so AMAZING (blackberry /red wine & NO sweetener of ANY kind orange/purple basil)

Full of whole plump farm-fresh blackberries that were outrageously juicy, bursting with berry goodness ... I can’t even begin to tell you how good this is.

The blackberry was made with sugar using this Martha Stewart recipe.

http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jht...

It was as easy, if not easier than making a box of jello. It is soooo much better than boxed jello and the amount of sugar is up to you ... as little or as much as desired ... or none.

I used this all-purpose recipe using no sweeteners ... just orange juice, fresh basil and a packet of Knox gelatin.

http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

This was good not spectacular because it started with a ho-hum ingredient ... boxed Minute-made OJ. It was only going to taste as good as the original ingredient. This was just an experiment I wanted to test out the whole gelatin-making process and see how important sugar was. Don’t need if if you don’t want it.

Also, the second recipe was easier than Martha’s and, quite frankly, easier than making a real box of Jell-o ... and so much healthier.

To simplify the above recipe to its basics ... here’s what you need

Two cups of juice or fruit/juice combined (alcohol can be used too
)1 packet of Knox gelatin

Sweetener of your choice only if you want it.

What you do:

1. Put 1/2 cup of liquid in a heat-proof bowl. Sprinkle packet of gelatin on top
2. In another pot, bring juice or fruit/juice mixture to a boil. If using whole fresh fruit, simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add hot liquid to Knox/juice mixture in the bowl
4. Add sweetener, if any, to your taste. What this tastes like now is what the gelatin will taste like
5. Let cool on the counter.
6. Put bowl covered in fridge. I just put into individual Tupperware containers with a lid on top.

That’s it.

I like the simplicity of adding the sweetener as the final step and doing little taste tests to use as little as possible. Also I'm excited about using different types of honey ... hmmm ... I wonder if lavendar jello with lavendar honey would work. Tea-based jello ... jasmine, green tea, herbal?

The basic gelatin recipe link above also had this good tip ...

"Certain raw fruits have an enzyme that will prevent gelatin from setting. Pineapple, mango, kiwi, and ginger must all be cooked for 5 minutes to destroy the enzyme before using."

I think I might try a can of pineapple chunks in juice and a packet of Knox for a no-sugar jello ... oooh ... orange-pineapple jello with real fruit juices.

Any sorbet combo that catches your interest could also be used to make gelatin. That's where I got the idea for the orange/basil gelatin. There was a post on the Home Cooking Board about orange/basil sorbet. I did a riff on that.

I brought the OJ to a boil, took it off the stove and threw a bunch of purple Thai basil in the hot juice. I let it stand for about an hour, strained the leaves out ... the purple basil turned the jello a lovely blood orange color. Then I re-boiled the infused OJ and continued on to step 3 above.

I can hardly wait for blood oranges to come back in season, but for now ... mmmm ... fresh strawberry is next ... and watermelon ... maybe I can use the watermelon juice as the liquid for the strawberries.

Here’s some ideas I’m going to try in the future

Martha’s Mint Julep gelatin

http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jht...

Cherry jam gelatin
http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jht...

*** Note: Edited Aug 04 at 11:15 am to add pineapple jello info.

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  1. It's nice to read a post like this that gets me movin' in a new direction. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the post. When I was little, my grandmother used to make coffee jello from Knox. It was a treat for us on Sunday- she would serve it in a bowl, with a sprinkle of sugar and whipped cream. I think your post will motivate me to try some peach jello. I have been gorging on peaches for a week now.

      1. I saw your post during lunch at work; I couldn't wait to get home and reply. I am so glad it turned out so good, I will definitely have to try the blackberry one. The orange basil jello sounds good too. I wonder if I could make orange, basil vodka shooters from the basil infused vodka I made.

        1. I am going to try this. I love jello. This sounds like the ultimate jello!

          1. Thanks for the report back, RWO. This is very inspiring since I love jello/gelatin-based desserts and haven't made any in a long time.

            I just had some Asian grass jelly from a can the other night, and it was such a refreshing and light dessert/drink. My family eats it w/ sugar water and crushed ice, whereas my in-laws use maple syrup to flavor the water. My mom makes a coffee jello, but I've never seen her make it so don't know if she uses all packaged ingredients or if she actually uses coffee or what. The gelatin is a bit too firm for my taste though...

            I think the watermelon jello sounds great! I'm feeling the urge to make a sangria-inspired jello, although I like a smooth, clean texture so don't want to muck up w/ too much fruit.

            Now, here's a question for you hounds: I have a box of Knox that has to be at least 5-8 yrs. old. The box contains small gelatin powder packets, so is this still good to use?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Carb Lover

              The thing is not to use too much gelatin ... one pack only ... so you avoid that too hard texture which I dislike too. Also, so far there's not that ugly hard skin that forms on boxed jello after a while.

              I'm glad you asked the question about how long gelatin could be kept because I came across this FABULOUS link that answers all my gelatin questions that were still rolling around in the back of my mind.

              http://www.baking911.com/howto/gelati...

              Regarding shelf-life it says "Unprepared gelatin has an indefinite shelf-life as long as it is wrapped airtight and stored in a cool, dry place"

              Addressing the texture issue it says the right ration is one packet to 2 cups of liquid. There's more info about that on the site. It says that gelatin can be reheated and re-chilled a number of times before losing its thickening properties. So I guess if you screw up and make it too thick or thin, you can just reheat it and re-adjust.

              The article mentions that the amount of sugar will impact the texture of the gelatin. The more sugar, the softer the gelatin.

              Actually that seems to be true. The Martha Stewart blackberry gelatin with sugar in it was a softer texture than the orange/basil jello without sugar. Both were fine texture-wise, but the sugarless was firmer. I guess increasing or decreasing the amount of Knox used would adjust texture depending on what you are looking for.

              It also answers that whole business about sprinkling gelatin on liquid to 'soften'. You can read that becuase I haven't totatly got that enough to re-state it. But I now know I cant just toss the Knox in with the fruit juice and boil or add it after the mixture has boiled. I wondered about that.

              See this is why I like America's Test Kitchen and Harold McGee's books ... if I know the WHY, I get better results.

              The only thing that might not be right in the above link is the part about fruits with enzymes that prevent jelling like pineapple or ginger.

              Another article I read said that if you cook those types of foods for five minutes, it destroys that enzyme. I happen to have a piece of ginger that has been ignored in my fridge. I'm off to buy a can of juice-packed pineapple. I'm thinking pineapple-ginger jello would be a great combo. Will let you know if it turns out.

              And whatever you do, DON'T read the wikipedia article on jello. I'm not even going to link to it because this tastes too good to discourage anybody. It is interesting though that it says the business about gelatin being good for hair and nails was just something that originated from Knox and hasn't been backed up.

              Also, it may or may not be good for joint health.

              1. re: rworange

                Thanks for your reply and link! Very helpful. I was thinking the shelf-life was very long, so nice to have that confirmed. Sugar is important for flavor and texture in so many desserts like ice cream and baked goods, so I would definitely include it (even just a little). I wonder if a tiny pinch of salt would also bring out the fruit flavor...

                I checked my Knox box, and I have about 16 packets to play with...I see some fun jello experiments in my future...

                I was just at Trader Joe's this morning and contemplating all different kinds of jello combos w/ their fruit juices, wines, etc. I was a bit overwhelmed, but am going on a trip on Tues. so thought I'd wait til I get back to make jello.

                Instead, I will soon be making the mint ice cream that sugarbuzz posted recently: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  Well, pineapple and ginger DOES jell ... too well in, fact.

                  I used canned pineapple chunks, reserved 1/2 cup of juice to sprinkle the package of knox on. Then I brought two cups of combined pineapple/juice and the piece of ginger to a boil and simmered 5 minutes ... then a few minutes more just to be safe.

                  I think the canning process alone had already killed whatever process that was in the pineapple that prevents gelling.

                  I say this because the the uncooked pineapple juice I used to sprinkle the gelatin on almost firmed up immediately.

                  I take the hot mixture off the stove and think ... rats! ... I probably should have boiled the 1/2 cup I reserved to sprinkle the gelatin over.

                  Also, a can of pineapple really doesn't have enough juice for this so there was more pineaple than juice ... ain't going to work, ain't going to work, I think.

                  Being freaked out by the warnings of the non jelling quality of pineapple ... I had an extra teaspoon left over from Martha's recipe ... does martha use a packet ... no ... it has to be a packet plus a teaspoon ... so I'm stuck with this half packet ... throw it in.

                  Yeah ... too much gelatin ... too little liquid ... I wake up to pineapple cubes this morning ... not bad though, just too firm. Too small a piece of ginger so it didn't pack any of that flavor.

                  Next it is strawberry. I REALLY liked Martha's blackberry recipe. I'm thinking a strawberry/rose combo for that. I think a rose wine would make a nice match with strawberries and give the gelatin a lovely color.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Thanks for the follow up. I'm thinking that waking up to pineapple ginger jello is a good way to start the day, even if it was too firm.

                    While rose sounds great, another luxurious idea for fresh strawberries...champagne!! Of course, sparkling wine, prosecco, cava would be just as good. I like this boozy jello streak...I promise I'll make some when I return from my trip!

                    1. re: rworange

                      The caveats for the fruits and ginger are only for raw fruits. You're right in thinking canned pineapple juice will gel without more cooking because it's already been cooked in the canning process. You only need to heat the liquid to get that gelatin fully dissolved, like with your basic OJ version.

              2. do you have pictures? It sounds beautiful. :) As much as I am turned off by gelatinous/aspic-like things, this sounds very creative and gorgeous.

                2 Replies
                1. re: melismak

                  The picture is on the link to to the recipe in the original post ... and yes it does look that beautiful.

                  I didn't go completely Martha. I just poured it into tupperware and ate it out of that without unmolding on to a plate and garnishing with whole berries and little mint leaves.

                  I am not a fan of gelantinous/aspic-like things either except for boxed jello ... and even then, don't put stuff in it. There's something creepy about the concept of gelatin to me. The sweet disguises that.

                  However, it was sooo hot recently and I wanted something light and refreshing for dessert ... Sorbet/ice cream has so many calories and is beyond my skills to make ... or want to make.

                  I have to tell you that blackberry jello is just amazing. The sheer luciousness of those slighlty cooked berries ... they actually taste better than fresh. I am thinking though next time I might try this without the wine, using a good quality blackberry juice like fresh Odwalla.

                  Granted the wine I used was the wrong one, but I am thinking an all blackberry version would just up the flavor.

                  What surprised me about this recipe was that I expected after cooking the berries, I'd have to strain the mixture ... you know seeds and all ... no instructions to do so and the berries were still mostly whole after five minutes, so I figured, what the heck, let's see what happens ... so good, so good, so good.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I am salivating now. Juice is a great alternative to water or wine in jello molds. A dietician turned me on to the idea a few years ago and I always get good results. Sounds like you are on the right track with Oddwalla juice. TJ's has a nice array of juices that are compatible with gelatin and fruit.