Friday, June 29, 2012

Fruit Juice "Jell-O"

I was saving a bottle of organic Concord grape juice to make some grape jelly (from a simple recipe I’ll have to tell you about some time.) Ever since I bought it, however, cooking and processing jelly have seemed like just too much trouble. Fortunately, I came across the idea in a magazine to make a gelatin dessert with fruit juice. That, of course, is much easier.

In fact, this really is just about as easy as opening and mixing up a box of Jell-O brand dessert. One simply blooms some unflavored gelatin in a bit of the juice, then boils the rest of the juice, stirs it in and waits until it firms up enough to eat. Ta-da! I don’t know why I didn’t know this was so easy.

I had some really good red seedless grapes and decided they were destined to go into the Jell-o, too. I cut each one in half and arranged them in the bottom of a shallow dish so each slurpy spoonful of gelled juice was studded with nice, crisp, sweet-tart grapes. The end result was perhaps more attuned to adult tastes (although not so much as some other Jell-O treatments out there), being less sugary than packaged gelatin desserts. This kind of thing would also be great, however, for parents who would like to control their kids’ sugar intake…like, um, probably every parent. This might not be as cheap as a box of Jell-O, but, seriously, the recipe won’t take much more of your time.

I think you could use just about any juice to make this. Just taste the juice, and if it’s too tart, you could add a bit of sugar. The Concord grape juice was fabulous on its own, and I think cherry juice with cherries would be great, too. Apple cider would be heavenly, especially that wonderful fresh-pressed cider we get around here in the early fall. But, silly me! I can’t be thinking about the fall yet. There’s too much summer yet to come and this refreshing and easy fruit juice gelatin really rides the summer heat waves like a champ.

Concord Grape Juice Gelatin with Red Grapes
Based on a recipe in Martha Stewart Living magazine

You could use any fruit juice and fruit with this method.

4 cups 100% Concord grape juice, divided
2 (¼ -ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups halved seedless red grapes

1. Pour 1 cup of the grape juice in a large bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and let stand until the gelatin has absorbed the juice to form a thick gel. This is known as “blooming” the gelatin.

2. Arrange the grapes in the bottom of a shallow 2-quart dish.

3. Bring the remaining 3 cups juice to a boil in a medium-size saucepan.  Pour over the bloomed gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve the gelatin. Pour over the grapes in the dish. Cool, then cover and chill until firm.

Makes about 8 servings

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