One of the things I missed most when I started keep kosher was JELLO. Ooey, gooey, jiggly jello. Mmm, mmm, good. And totally, totally not kosher.
A few years later, I discovered a REAL and delicious brand of kosher gelatin, which we used to buy often enough in Toronto to keep me happy.
However, here in Israel, there’s no such thing, just the insipid brands of kosher jello, which are based on vegetable gel and don’t – in my limited experience – set up properly to a shiny crystal-clear texture.
So I’ve started playing with real gelatin since we’ve been here, because it’s cheap and plentifully available – and, as I think I’ve commented before, mysteriously pareve. There are two kinds; the red package is meat-source and the blue is fish-source. From bad experience in Toronto, I’ve found that fish gelatin gives a weird tangy taste to everything you use it in. This would probably be fine in a citrus-themed dessert (as shown on the box), but definitely not fine in a chocolaty dessert, or, perhaps, a strawberry one.
For me, the only real flavour of Jello is strawberry. Happily, I have discovered a not-too-hard way to make authentic-tasting strawberry jello right here in Israel using an all-important Secret Ingredient…
Okay, sure, you can’t buy Kool-Aid locally here in Israel, at least, that I know of. In Canada either, for that matter; I searched in vain when I was there in March, but they’ve gone over to those “water-flavour” drops which are pre-sweetened artificially. Ugh.
Speaking of “artificially” – you can use this method to make delicious all-natural jello as well. I have made jello before using ONLY strawberries, when they’re in season (you can’t get fresh strawberries out of season here). I boil them in a heavy-bottom dutch oven with a little sugar until they are completely soft and surrounded by delicious, bright-red strawberry liquid. Yum!
But this time, I really, really wanted the artificial strawberry taste I know and love so much.
Luckily, there’s eBay. Kool-Aid is the best thing to buy on eBay because it’s super-light and cheap to ship. I only ordered about 10 packets, in a variety of flavours, because it was right before Pesach; I probably should have gotten more because they last forever. This was the fastest I’ve ever gotten anything from the U.S. – it came in exactly a week. (hint: ask the seller to double-check the hechsher before shipping!)
So how can you turn Kool-Aid into Jello? Easy!
Easy Kool-Aid Jello
You will need:
- 1 packet Kool-Aid, your choice of flavour, as long as it’s strawberry – just kidding!
- 2 packets (= 2 Tbsp) powdered gelatin
- 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (to taste)
- 1 cup cool (room-temperature) water
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup very cold water (or ice cubes)
How to do it:
- To a large bowl or a jumbo measuring cup (seen above!), add 1 cup of cool (room temperature is fine) water.
- Sprinkle all the gelatin over top and allow it to soften for 5 minutes.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. You’ll need this in a minute.
- Add Kool-Aid packet contents and 1/2 cup sugar to the jellied water from Step 2.
- Pour in 2 cups boiling water and stir well for 2 minutes until both Kool-Aid, sugar and gelatin are completely (Important! ALL THE WAY!) dissolved. Taste it at this point to make sure it’s sweet enough. Add a little more sugar if needed.
- Add 1 cup very cold water (or ice cubes) and stir vigourously.
- Pour into a container to set or into individual serving cups for a more parfait-style presentation.
You can also allow your Jello to set up a little and then do creative things with it like using cut-up stale cake (into cubes) and pareve whipping cream to make trifle. Yummy!
Feel free to put fruit in the Jello when it’s almost all the way set (so the fruit doesn’t just fall to the bottom) except pineapple and kiwi, which will stop the gelatin from gelling. This is the one plus of those kosher-brand jellos, that you can make them even with these 2 fruits. But to me, that’s not a huge advantage.
Red Jello is just the first step in what I call “puffy pie,” my absolute most favourite dessert ever. Maybe I’ll share that one with you sometime, too…!