THE JOY OF JELLO
Most adults classify jello as a non-food, suitable only for feeding to children. That's a shame because made properly it's the most refreshing of all deserts. The secret to great jello is to follow a few simple steps.
Step 1: Never mold Jello.
Most family cooks have at least one jello molding recipe that creates a shimmering tower of layered colors that everyone says, "Ah" when it's presented at the table. The problem with molding jello is that the amount of water has to be reduced so the jello is strong enough to hold its shape. This not only gives the jello a rubbery texture, this high-gelatin concoction locks up flavors so that the taste is muted. If you want good tasting jello never mold it.
Step 2: It's the water.
The slogan for a famous beer used to be, "It's the water," implying their beer was better because they made it with the best water. This same idea is valid for jello. Because it's 98-percent water, the quality of the water used to make jello has a significant effect on how it tastes. Most tap water is harsh with chemical notes. The same is true for many bottled waters, including distilled water. Taste testing many brands of water provided the following:
Sixteen different waters were compared to see which tasted best. The big surprise is that all of them, including tap, Brita filtered tap and distilled water, ended with a sour after taste. I suspect this is the unavoidable result of a chemical reaction to the secretions in the human mouth. The goal of this test was to find the mildest, sweetest tasting water for making jello.
Southern California tap water: not as bad as expected but a little sharp with a metallic tang and a souring after taste
Tap water sent through a Brita carbon filter into a glass: plasticy taste that soured more than plain tap water
Great Value (Walmart) distilled: sour after taste that faded quickly
(Note: since all the waters tested had a slightly sour after taste this comment will not be included with the rest of the reviews.)
Nursery: Sharp, harsh flavor
Great Value (Walmart) drinking water: no initial flavor, not bad
Nestle' Purified Drinking water: mild. Rated the forth best tasting.
Great Value (Walmart) Spring water: high chemical tang
Sparklets Crystal Fresh: sharp stinging taste rated the worst of all the waters tested
Stator Bros' Pure water: strong chemical notes
Crystal Geyser: mild initial flavor, slower to sour in the after taste Rated the third best tasting.
Aquafina: tangy and sweet with a sharper than usual after taste
Fiji: mild but with a strongly souring after taste
Glace' Au Smart Water: very sharp and sour
DejaBlue: average flavor
Arrowhead: very mild with very little souring. Rated the second best tasting.
Evian: extremely mild initial flavor with the least amount of souring to the aftertaste. Rated the best tasting of all the waters tested.
The winner was Evian. Using it produces jellos with purer, cleaner flavors.
Step 3: It's not the water!
Jello made only with water, even the best water, lacks the sprightliness adult palates demand. The secret to achieving brighter flavor is to replace some of the water with a lemon-lime soda. I tested many brands and the one the creates the best tasting jello is Sprite. If you taste it you'll find it has a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. These two factors cancel each other out so that adding Sprite to jello doesn't make it sweeter, just zestier. Although it's classed as a lemon-lime soda, it doesn't really taste like it. Sprite has an acid tang and sugar sweetness, but its lemon-lime flavor is very weak. This is perfect because it doesn't interfere with the jello's flavor.
Step 4: Never use a metal pan.
Doing so imparts a metallic tang to the jello that can make it taste harsh. Use a glass bowl and heat it in the microwave. Plastic spoons or better still glass rods are best for stirring. Metal whisks and wood spoons can create off flavors.
Step 5: Chose the best flavor.
I compared dozens of different jello mixes and have to admit that most were pretty horrible. The best were the pure flavors: raspberry, lemon, and the best of all cherry. Personal preferences differ so you'll have to make your own tests to discover your favorite. This takes some time but is well worth it in the long run. And please, never use sugar-free jello. It simply doesn't have the right taste.
Step 6: Cool it covered.
When hot jello goes into a refrigerator to set a lot of water steams off. The causes the surface jello to set a little on the tough side. Covering it prevents this. It slows the cooling process so you'll have to wait longer to eat it, but the resulting jello will be more succulent. It'll also taste stronger. Before you can taste something it has to go into solution so it can be absorbed by your taste buds. The more liquid the jello is, the faster your taste buds take it up and the more intensely it'll be flavored.
Follow these simple suggestions and you'll be making jello that's the toast of the neighborhood.
Start with three and one-half cups of sprite that has been allowed to go flat. Warm the Sprite in a heat-proof glass container in a microwave until it's 180 degrees F., about eight minutes in a 1100 watt unit. Whisk several times as it's heating to make sure all the carbonation is gone.
Add three small packages of cherry Jello, the size that takes two cups of water to make. Gently stir the jello into the hot water. Don't whisk because that can create unsightly bubbles on the surface of the jello after it's cooled.
When the jello is dissolved, mix in two and one-half cups of chilled Evian water.
Place in a refrigerator, cover, and let it sit for four hours or until set.
Water droplets condense on the underside of the lid and can drip off the create dimples on the surface of the jello. Be careful when uncovering it to avoid letting drips fall. Wipe off the lid before recovering. Always keep jello covered even after it's set.
Made properly, jello is a great treat that's not just for children. I sincerely hope you'll try the recipe on this page. Thank you for stopping by!
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