Fruit-flavored gelatin desserts are a longtime childhood favorite, with their crystalline colors and kid-pleasing wobbly texture. They're mom-friendly as well, with a quick and easy preparation method that requires little time and generates few dirty dishes. Their only real shortcoming is that the flavor and color come largely from "mystery" ingredients, with little nutritional value. Making your own fruit gelatin from scratch sidesteps this problem, combining unflavored gelatin with real fruit juice for a simple, healthful dessert or snack.
Things You'll Need
- Fruit juice, either fresh or frozen concentrate
- Heatproof mixing bowl
- Unflavored gelatin
- Sugar or other sweetener (optional)
- Lemon or lime juice (optional)
Measure 1/4 of the fruit juice into a heatproof mixing bowl and sprinkle its surface with unflavored gelatin. One standard-sized envelope contains 2 1/2 teaspoons of powder, or just less than one tablespoon, and will set 2 cups of juice to the familiar jiggly-but-soft dessert texture.
Bring the remaining 3/4 of your juice to a full rolling boil in a saucepan. Once the gelatin in the bowl has fully "bloomed," or absorbed moisture from the cold juice, pour the hot juice into your mixing bowl.
Stir the mixture briskly for 30 to 60 seconds, until the gelatin has completely dissolved. If it's not thoroughly dispersed throughout the juice, your finished dessert might have a lumpy and inconsistent texture.
Sweeten the mixture lightly with fine sugar, agave, honey or other sweeteners, if the juice you've selected is tart. If it's sweet, add a splash of lemon or lime juice to brighten its flavor. Continue stirring until your sweetening or acidifying ingredient is also well-mixed.
Refrigerate your dessert in its bowl for at least 2 hours, until fully set. Alternatively, pour it into individual dessert dishes. The smaller volume of gelatin dessert will set in roughly half the time.
Measure 2 parts water for every part juice concentrate you'll be using. That's less water than you'd use for making juice, but it will provide your dessert with a more intense flavor. Each pouch of gelatin powder sets 2 cups of liquid, so this means you'll need 2/3 cup of concentrate and 1 1/3 cups of water per pouch.
Pour 1/2 of the water into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle your gelatin powder over its surface to moisten, or "bloom." Bring the other half of your water to a boil, and stir it into the yeast mixture. Stir continuously until the gelatin is completely dissolved. If a few granules remain stubbornly intact, heat the bowl in your microwave for 30 seconds to raise the water's temperature and then stir until they disappear.
Spoon half of the concentrate into the gelatin mixture and stir until it dissolves completely, then add the remaining concentrate. The concentrate should melt completely as you stir it into the gelatin. If it doesn't, return the bowl to your microwave for another 30 seconds and then resume stirring.
Sweeten the mixture or brighten it with lemon or lime juice, as needed, then refrigerate your dessert until it sets. Gelatin made with frozen concentrate is cooler than gelatin made with boiling juice, and can be ready to serve in as little as 45 minutes, though 1 to 2 hours is more usual.