Gelatin Desserts Without Sugar

The author shares her secret for making nutritious gelatin desserts.

| July/August 1980

064 sugarless desserts

An assortment of the gelatin desserts you can whip up following the author's suggestions.


When the sweltering heat of late summer arrives, almost everybody begins to feel a bit lethargic, and it's a pretty good bet that no member of the family is going to volunteer to cook dinner. Nor is anyone likely to be very enthusiastic about eating a hot meat. However, I'd always been successful in tempting my crowd's taste buds with the light, cool fruitiness of "jello" ... it's easy to prepare, and it makes a delicious salad or dessert that the youngsters really love.

Read the Label

In fact, I was flat convinced that packaged, flavored gelatin was the perfect solution to those no-appetite warm-weather days until I happened to read the ingredients on a box of the commercially available, pre-sweetened confection. This is what it listed: "Sugar, gelatin, adipic acid (for tartness), fumaric acid (for tartness), disodium phosphate (to lessen acidity), artificial flavor, artificial color, BHA."

Yikes! Whatever happened to good old wholesome, naturally sweet fruit, for gosh sakes? Well, I could see right then and there that if I wanted to serve a treat that was both flavorful and free of all those chemicals, I'd have to make it myself.

So I decided to read the side of a box of unflavored Knox gelatin ... and was happily surprised. "Ingredient: gelatin." That's all ... no preservatives, no additives, no artificial anything. I concluded that a combination of unflavored gelatin and fruit juice must be the basic recipe for making jello "from scratch" ... and it really turned out to be just about that simple.

Early Experiments

The first liquid I tried to jell (successfully, I might add!) was orange juice. I simply followed the directions on the Knox package and mixed one envelope of the granules with 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan. I stirred this mixture over medium heat for three minutes until the gelatin powder dissolved, and then removed it from the burner before adding 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of orange juice.

Once the sugar was totally in solution, t poured the liquid into four sherbet glasses. After 30 minutes in the refrigerator, my "creations" had already partially set ... so I garnished each one with fresh fruit, using the day's harvest from my berry patch (eight strawberries and four raspberries), and let the glasses chill until serving time. The result was a beautiful—and luscious—dessert!

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