Looking for a way to get more good grass-fed gelatin into your diet? The following recipe for a made-from-scratch citrus Jell-O substitute is easy, fast, and best of all, is made from high-quality gelatin from grass-fed cows and uses freshly squeezed fruit juice. There are no questionable preservatives, refined sugars or HFCS, or dangerous artificial food coloring.
Why should you consume gelatin? Here are two great articles from the Weston A. Price Foundation with more information. These articles are written with regards to homemade bone broth, which is rich in gelatin (plus lots of other great stuff), but the information also applies to a gelatin supplement. The first article has more info than the second. Briefly, gelatin contains 18 amino acids, 9 of which are essential (meaning your body can't produce them -- you have to get them from food), and has long been linked to joint/bone health but also to proper digestion, a strong immune system, and youthful skin (helping with elasticity and wrinkles).
Bone broth is amazing and can be quite enjoyable to sip like a tea with meals, but sometimes (like now, in the dead of summer) you may prefer a chilled treat to get your gelatin instead of hot broth.
Now, for the recipe. I'll tell you exactly what I did for this batch, but also give you the information to allow you to adapt the recipe according to what you have on hand, what's in season and affordable, and your own taste.
Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable recipe using the amounts I used here.
Here's what you'll need:
- Great Lakes brand gelatin, which is made from grass-fed cows raised in Argentina that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics (which you can buy from my affiliate here)
- Fresh-squeezed citrus juice (choose your mix!)
- Room-temp water
- Hot water
- Optional: sweetener, such as a good local raw honey or an unrefined sugar like sucanat (affiliate link). If you use enough orange juice, you won't need to add any sweetener.
The ratio is approximately 3/4 to 1 Tbsp gelatin for every 1 cup of total liquid for a classic Jell-O style consistency. The ratio of juice to water is flexible, but I recommend at least equal parts juice & water, but preferably more juice than water. However, I have made this recipe using more water than juice and it came out just fine. You can also make it with only juice. Don't worry -- it's very forgiving, and difficult to mess up.
I like to make this in one of my rectangular Pyrex baking dishes with an air-tight(ish) lid, but you can also use a mold if you like. If you want a firmer consistency, like gummy bites, then double the gelatin & increase the volume of cold water you use to wet the gelatin.
In this recipe, I used 10 oranges and 5 limes, which yielded about 3 1/2 cups of juice. I did NOT strain the orange juice to remove the pulp. Sometimes I do for a smoother end product, but when I'm feeling lazy and want to be quick, I don't. The pulp doesn't affect the final product in a negative way (at least my husband and I don't think so). But, if you leave the pulp in, it will settle to the bottom of the container and the consistency will be slightly less firm at the bottom compared to the top. But, like I said, it's delicious either way. You'll have to use a lot more oranges if you strain out the pulp (like, almost double).
First, juice all of your fruits. I like to do this manually with my Gramma's glass juicer and a little elbow grease. You can mimic what I did with mostly oranges with some lime (or lemon, if you prefer -- limes are my go-to since they are 10 for a dollar here in Miami Beach! Lemons can be only 2 or 3 for 1 dollar or as much as 2 for $1.50). Or, if you want a tart treat, you can do lemon and lime mix (or either one on its own), but then you'll probably want to add some honey, about 1 Tbsp per cup of liquid.
A note about citrus fruits: it is not necessary to buy organic citrus (you probably can't even find organic in your grocery store if you don't live in FL or CA). But, if you use conventional, please be sure to wash them REALLY WELL before cutting them open. Citrus gets coated in all sorts of gross waxes and anti-fungal chemicals. You can use something like Fit fruit & veggie wash, or at the very least, a good scrubbing with some plain white vinegar and a thorough rinse with water.
Now that you have your juice, pour it into the final container -- the one that you'll be placing in the fridge. Then, measure out your gelatin and add about 1/4 cup of room temp water for every 2 Tbsp of gelatin. Mix it up really well with a fork. It will form a stiff, gooey consistency. Add more water if necessary. You want to make sure you wet all the gelatin.
Next, add the hot water and stir vigorously so that the gelatin totally dissolves. I used 1/2 c room temp water for the 4 Tbsp gelatin (I meant to use 5, but got distracted and made a mistake -- still came out great!) and 1 1/2 c hot water. This brought my total liquid to 5 cups.
Now, gently stir your gelatin-water into the final container with the juice. Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to let it set. The amount of time it takes will depend on how large of a batch you made and the size of your container.
That's it! It's not really that much extra work compared to the boxed Jell-O. The "worst" part is doing the juicing yourself, but I kinda enjoy it. If you aren't keen on juicing a bunch of citrus yourself, here are some alternatives:
- You can buy pretty much any frozen fruit and put it in a saucepan with about equal parts water & fruit, cook until soft, then puree with either an immersion blender or a regular blender. You can either dissolve the gelatin into the fruit mix while it is still hot and before blending, or you can do it as described above and combine with the fruit after pureeing. Additional sweetener is optional, depending on your choice of fruit.
- If you have your own juicer, you could make your own fresh juice from your favorite fruit and use that instead of the citrus juice. Again, additional sweetener is optional and will depend on the fruit you choose.
- In a pinch, you could use store-bought bottled juice, as is recommended in the Intro stage of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Specifically, for SCD, white grape juice is recommended: 1 cup cold juice + 1 Tbsp gelatin, which is then dissolved with 1 c hot juice, with an optional 2 Tbsp honey added for extra sweetness. You could adapt this recipe with your favorite bottled juice, but you'll be missing out on some of the nutrition in the juice if you opt for the bottled/pasteurized stuff instead of fresh. However, you'll still be getting the wonderful benefits of gelatin in your diet.
Fresh-Squeezed Raw Citrus "Jell-O" Style Gelatin Snack
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cook time: n/a
Total time: 20-30 minutes, plus 3-4 hours refrigeration
Yield: 18 - 24 servings
- 4 Tbsp grass-fed gelatin (Great Lakes Brand)
- 1/2 cup room temperature filtered water (to "bloom" the gelatin)
- 1-1/2 cups very hot filtered water (to dissolve gelatin)
- 3-1/2 cups fresh-squeezed citrus juice (from about 10 oranges and 5 limes, see note)
- Optional: 3-5 Tbsp raw local honey
- Squeeze your juice. First, make sure to wash (using a produce wash solution or distilled white vinegar) and scrub the citrus to remove the waxes and anti-fungal agents (if using conventional citrus -- which I recommend to save money). A simple manual juicer works well. Optional: strain pulp from juice. If you do this, you will need to use a LOT more fruits. If not straining pulp, carefully pick out the seeds from the juice using your hands and/or a fork to help speed it up. Or just use navel oranges ;-) Note: if you do not strain the pulp, it will settle to the bottom of the gelatin as it sets and slightly alter the texture of the bottom. It does not negatively affect the flavor or mouthfeel of the final product and I never strain mine.
- Pour juice into your final container -- the one that you will let it set in in the refrigerator. A 9”x11” Pyrex glass casserole pan works very well (mine comes with an air-tight lid, too).
- "Bloom" the gelatin by mixing it with the room temperature water *in a heat proof vessel* (like a large Pyrex measuring cup or small saucepan). This is VERY important to do first! Use a fork to stir it and ensure that all of the gelatin is wetted. Use additional water if necessary. It will form a stiff, goey consistency. Allow it to sit for at least 1 minute before adding the hot water.
- Bring filtered water to a boil, then remove from heat. Measure and slowly pour into the softened gelatin (make sure it is in a heat proof vessel!) to dissolve it. Stir to make sure it dissolves evenly. If using honey, dissolve it now with the gelatin.
- Pour dissolved gelatin into the fresh-squeezed juice (which is in your final vessel) and gently stir to mix it well. Cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours (about 3-4) to allow it to set. Enjoy!
Want more gelatin recipes?
Check out my round-up of recipes for nose-to-tail eating -- which includes consuming gelatin! There's lots of delicious dessert recipes there (scroll down to the bottom). --> http://thecuriouscoconut.com/blog/100-plus-ways-to-eat-more-organ-meats-offal-and-odd-bits