Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ribbon Jello

In my first year of blog keeping, I wrote about how I suck at making jello.    Yes, it's true....despite being an award winning cook and instructor and having recipes published in national magazines and having a recipe featured in Molly O'Neill's One Big Table, I have big trouble when it comes to making jello.  Go ahead - say it....she can't even boil water!  Which is all you have to do to make jello, but I have managed to screw it up big time.   So, I kep trying, and over the course of the past few years, I have worked on my jello technique.  

Here's what I have learned:
  • It is really important to use a mold strictly designed for jello - I've tried pudding molds and other containers, but if the jello is too tall or has too wide of a base, the jello will collapse on itself or spread out.  
  • Don't use Bundt pans!  Even though the shape is right, the metal tends to stay cold too long compared to the open base, making it difficult to unstick from the pan.   The metal transfers heat too easily and one time I melted a pan of jello while trying to heat it in some warm water to get it to release.    
  • I have had wonderful results with vintage Tupperware jello molds - they unmold beautifully.  They have a middle piece that can be removed to help release the vacuum that is created by a properly set gelatin.   Also, they have a lid so it's easy to transport an unmolded creation to your destination.
  • Use a light coating of unflavored cooking spray on the mold before adding the gelatin to insure an easy release.  
  • Do you have jello mold phobia?  Make jello in a clear glass truffle bowl instead.  
  • Is jello made from horses hooves?   According to Snopes, no, but it's not technically something vegetarians would want to eat.   There are vegetarian gelatins out there, but I haven't tried them yet.
  • For picnics, be sure to keep it cool.  My stunning and patriotic red, white and blue 4th of July jello creation melted into a puddle before my very eyes one 100F  Independence day many summers ago.   I was not feeling "proud to be an American" on that day, for sure.  Don't let this happen to you!  Set your jello plate on a pan of ice to keep it cool.  Make Lee Greenwood proud.

On the subject of Jello molds.....

While there are vintage Tupperware collectors that are willing to pay big bucks for the stuff, I have had great luck finding jello molds at garage sales, church rummage sales etc.   It's rare to find all the pieces together at a garage sale, just buy the part that's there and eventually, you will find the other related accoutrement at another sale, have no fear! 

I was on the prowl for this mold:

and my sister Sandy and I simultaneously found them and bought them on the same Saturday of garage saling a few years ago, within a half hour of each other.   I called her to tell her the news that I found one at the Ann Arbor Kiwanis Thrift Store - only to find that she had just bought the same one for me at a garage sale in Warren, 50 miles away!  She and I often prowl garage sales for each other for things we are looking for....for me, it's jello molds and canning jars.  For her, it's  Detroit Tigers Christmas ornaments.    Both were missing the lids, but Sandy found one in the "FREE" box a few weeks later at the St.  Malachy Polish Festival.   

While I love this mold, it does make a huge quantity of jello.   While cleaning out my parents house to get it ready to sell, Sandy and I found this smaller Tupperware mold:

It's got center pieces that can be swapped out for the particular holiday.   Grandma always made jello for her grandbabies.  In her honor this Easter, I will use it with the tulip insert to make Ribbon Jello, which is a great recipe for spring. 

Jello Mold Mistress' Ribbon Jello
Ribbon jello isn't hard to make, but it's a day long affair, best combined with other tasks that have you tied to the kitchen anyway, such as bread making or pie baking.    That's why it's great for a holiday like Easter, made with spring like colors like lemon, strawberry, lime, orange and the blue flavor - I think it is technically supposed to be raspberry, but I call it "blue flavor".

Ribbon Jello
printer friendly

6-1/4 cups boiling water, divided
5 pkg. (4-serving size each) gelatin, any 5 different flavors, divided
1 cup vanilla lowfat yogurt, divided

With a whisk, stir 1-1/4 cups boiling water into 1 pkg. gelatin in a container  at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved.  If you have an electric tea kettle, it's quick and easy to make boiling water fast.  I have found that the tall Ziploc plastic food storage containers are great for this task.   Pour about half of the dissolved gelatin into an 8-cup ring mold sprayed with cooking spray or a glass bowl. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until set but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched). Refrigerate remaining gelatin in bowl about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites). Gradually stir in 3 Tbsp. of the vanilla yogurt. Spoon over gelatin in mold. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until gelatin is set but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched).

REPEAT process with each remaining gelatin flavor. (Be sure to cool dissolved gelatin to room temperature before pouring into mold.) Refrigerate gelatin as directed to create a total of 10 alternating clear and creamy gelatin layers.

REFRIGERATE 2 hours or until firm. Unmold. Cut into 16 slices to serve. Store leftover gelatin in refrigerator.
For further inspiration, check out this blog Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn for all things jello. If in upstate NY, pay a visit to the Jell-o Gallery. (fun fact:  jello is spelled correctly with the dash in it)


Shayne said...

wow that is really pretty jello

CallieK said...

Wow! My mom still has her tupperware mold- I may just haave to steal it after seeing this!

Tracy's Living Cookbook said...

I actually love making jello and find that most people are happy to see it on the table - it's cheap and can be very pretty with almost any meal. I actually made this Ribbon Jello once and I can say it turned out awesome. My church had a jello competition at a potluck lunch once - very fun!!!

ps - I'm looking forward to the dill Spice Rack Challenge - I'm thinking chicken burgers with some type of dill sauce.....

trashmaster46 said...

I went through a big Jell-O making phase a few years back. At the time, I discovered I really liked Jell-O mixed with seltzer water. Something about the carbonation - which I would've assumed would dissipate while the Jell-O sat - made the whole thing taste slightly fizzy.

Tricia said...

Some years ago we got little storage containers at Kiwanis, where the top and bottom both came off. I finally realized from looking at this that they are Tupperware - maybe for making individual servings of jello?

Jo Brown said...

Very cute looking jello. I'm sure kids would love this. All the colors makes it very attractive. I hope I can successfully make a jello like this.