Homemade (Grass-Fed) Jello

The other day, while I was depositing a check in the drive-through lane, I saw a man come out of my bank and walk to a car that had an Illinois license plate. It was the simplest thing—a license plate—something that I wouldn’t think twice about while I’m at home. But sitting there in Nashville, waiting for my $20 and a receipt, I wondered where in Illinois he was from: maybe the suburbs? I wondered how long he’d lived in Nashville—or did he even live in Nashville? Maybe he was visiting like I’d done so many times over the last year?

Shared experiences, even hints at them, are funny. We all enjoy meeting people who have gone through situations like we have, especially when the situations are less common—say, moving to a new state, for example. We like running into people who know our friends or interacting with strangers who seem to understand us. It’s just nice to feel that commonality. Often, it’s the very way that friendships begin.

Shared experiences can be big things like losing a loved one or, small things like, I don’t know, going wedding dress shopping for the first time (hollah!).

It’s kind of like jello.

gelatin and palm sugar and Vitamix

I mean, how many of us didn’t grow up eating jello, right? There were the fun jigglers of our childhoods, cut into crazy shapes and able to be picked up with your fingers; the fancy molds of holiday dinner parties, filled with fruit or marshmallows or nuts; the simple mixes where all you had to do was combine a packet with hot water and stir.

It’s something so common, we don’t even think about it. But yet, if we went somewhere and they didn’t have it (in the same way another state doesn’t have our license plates), seeing it would be kind of comforting and exciting and community-making. I love jello.


And it’s not just the familiarity of jello I love. When I learned how powerful gelatin is in healing the gut (this broth article is excellent in explaining that more), jello took on a whole new value.

For me, the next step was finding a really high-quality gelatin, one made from grass-fed cows rather than pigs, which led me to Great Lakes, an easy-to-order option found online.

A couple experiments and entire-bowls-eaten-in-one-sitting later, and I bring you the strawberry jello pictured in this post. While it is a little different than the boxed variety, it is filled with whole, natural ingredients that you can feel really good about putting in your body—not to mention that help your digestion and overall health.

homemade grass-fed jello

It’s a jello I’m eating a lot lately, so I hope you’ll try it, too—and then tell me about it! Because, the way I see it, we can all use a little more community and kinship, even the kind centered around a food we eat.

Homemade (Grass-Fed) Jello
Makes two cups of jello

Thanks to that awesome $1.99 sale on organic strawberries at Whole Foods last month, I had an entire case at my disposal (yes, an entire case) to make my own puree, but a pure juice would work just as well. Then you’d simply need to add the gelatin to a cup of juice and add boiling water to that mixture.

1 cup of pureed strawberries
3 Tablespoons honey or palm sugar
1 Tablespoon gelatin
1 cup of water

In a blender or Vitamix or food processor, puree a full cup of strawberries with 3 Tablespoons of sweetener (honey or palm sugar). Add a heaping Tablespoon of gelatin to the mixture.

Boil a cup of water over the stove and add it to the fruit mixture. Whisk until fully mixed through.

Refrigerator for a couple hours, until set.

27 Comment

  1. Jenny says: Reply

    thanks for the recommendation! Looks yummy!

  2. Molly says: Reply

    Strangest thing, as I actually addressed this idea of the ubiquity and democracy of all things Jello in a class last year. I grew up kosher so gelatin things were off limits. We had Jello-esque substitutes, but their consistency didn’t come close. I eat gelatin when I want to now, and am quite excited to give your recipe a shot. Thanks!

  3. You’re welcome, Jenny. Hope you enjoy!

    Cool, Molly! And another awesome thing about this gelatin is it’s even kosher. So if you were still eating that way, you could still have this. : )

  4. Lan says: Reply

    i am daydreaming about the different fruits that could be used, or even leaving in diced fruit. then i am mentally calculating how i could make the jello firmer to creates shapes etc.

  5. bianca says: Reply

    I haven’t made jello for a while because of the pig gelatin- after learning about the method in culinary school I couldnt bring myself to do it, despite loving jello. Thanks for the link to this grass fed gelatin- i think it may be time to bring jello back into the fold!

  6. Joanna says: Reply

    I just made this! I left half the batch unsweetened for Brad and sweetened the other half for my friend who is fighting stomach upset this week. I can’t get her to drink kombucha, but I bet she’ll eat this! Thanks, friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Alicia says: Reply

    A couple things. 1. I didn’t know gelatin came from pigs. Whoa! I have read that it’s good for the gut though, so maybe I should try it. 2. A trivia question the other day on The Mix was what food have only 3% of Americans never had, and the answer was jello! I know what you’re thinking… Alicia still blabbers on about what she hears on The Mix. Some things never change ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Hi Shannalee – I get a lot of slow food followers and vegans in my classes who still want to “jello” ocassionally. The slow fooders will love that you’ve searched that out!
    With regard to the vegans, I have had great success using agar-agar, though it requires a bit of playing with – we use it to make all kinds of “noodles” for sweet coconut asian-style dessert drinks.

    kudos to you!

    dorette of http://www.plantingcabbages.com

  9. My family ate jello all the time, but I’ve never had it. It kinda grossed me out. But if I can get over the texture, I could give this a try! I like the idea of a real fruit based dessert. Looks pretty and I love the colour.

  10. Lan, I bet if you upped the amount of gelatin, you’d get more firmness. Added bonus: the more gelatin, the better nutrition!

    Bianca, Enjoy!

    Joanna, Yay! : ) And guess who bought an entire case of kombucha yesterday? Yes, yes, I did.

    Alicia, I miss you.

    Dorette, Great!

    Kickpleat, Ha! You could play around with the texture by upping or lowering the amount of gelatin (assuming it’s the firmness that weirds you out). Or adding fruit throughout? To break up the texture? That sounds fun!

  11. Teresa says: Reply

    Hmmm…if you used puree, I wonder if full-fruit jam or preserves would work? (without the sugar of course)

  12. […] Grass Fed Jello – Yea.ย  You read that right.ย  Throw out the boxed stuff.ย  This is a method and recipe for using real gelatin and whole ingredients to make some really tasty jiggly stuff.ย  (@ Food Loves Writing) […]

  13. Peggy says: Reply

    I will definitely be on the lookout for this grass-fed beef gelatin! This homemade jello variety looks fantastic and can’t wait to try it!

  14. I used to love jello, but the mere mention of grass fed jello kind of makes my tummy quiver. Maybe it is the link between gelatin (and where it comes from) and jello? Not sure, I’m trying to wrap my brain around it though!

  15. Maddie says: Reply

    Gelatin from grass-fed cows? This was a totally enlightening post on an issue I’d never thought about. You continue to surprise meโ€”in the best way possible!

  16. Teresa, Hmmmm. It might work, but it would probably be a lot sweeter because of the additional sugar.

    Peggy, Awesome!

    Anne, Ha! It’s a whole new world, I know!

    Maddie, Right? Tim talks about the difference between porcine (from pigs) and bovine (from cows) gelatin, which sounds so impressive to me. : ) I love all the new info. And I love that you enjoy it. : ) Thanks, friend!

  17. Wow! I had no idea that gelatin was good for the gut… I love finding out things like that!

    Thanks for your kind words about the wedding photography! I wish I was in Chicago too!! It’s only a short flight away ๐Ÿ™‚

    Congrats on the upcoming wedding, I had so much fun planning our wedding, have fun!!!

  18. What a fascinating recipe! I’ve never even considered the possibility of making “homemade” jello, but now I can’t stop thinking about what it would taste like with pure ingredients (rather than cloyingly sweet artificial flavors)! Very interesting and unique.

  19. Amanda, Oh, you’re killing me! We’ve already picked another photographer, but I really mean it when I say I wish we could have talked to you! Your photos are amazing.

    Natalie, Right? Hope you enjoy!

  20. Sue says: Reply

    Yum- what a great option for my kiddos, too!

  21. Hope you try it, Sue!

  22. Heidi says: Reply

    Shanna, is there a health benefit to taking beef vs. pork gelatin? I started my gelatin regimen this morning (slow to the party, I know!) after doing some extensive research last week. I’m making this recipe tonight! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Tim says: Reply

      Hi Heidi!
      We think there is a benefit of taking beef over pork. Primarily this is because I think that the quality of what the animal is consuming as well as its own ability to cleanse itself has a great effect on the quality of its makeup (its meat, bones, fats, etc). So eating gelatin from grassfed cows is coming from an animal that is eating greens and has multiple stomachs and has cleaner flesh than that of pigs. So that is why we recommend beef gelatin from grassfed cows.

      Hope that helps!

  23. Heidi says: Reply

    This does help, thanks! I will get the kosher gelatin next.

  24. […] (For more on the joys of grass-fed gelatin, by the way, see the posts here and here.) […]

  25. Rita says: Reply

    I bought this gelatin with the intention of making jelly for a trifle. I am not sure whether I can use fresh juice and if so how much juice to how much gelatin. I know the recipe here says one cup of gelatin but what size cup. Can you please give me an idea how many ozs. or gramms to how much juice. I am hoping to find organic grape or strawberry juice. Thank you.

    1. Hi Rita, It’s funny you commented about this now; I just made some jello using this formula yesterday! So in metric terms, I would try

      8 ounces juice
      8 ounces water
      2 tablespoons (just to ensure a firm set) gelatin

      Sprinkle the gelatin over the room-temperature juice, and heat the water. Once it’s almost boiled, add it to the gelatin mixture and stir until it’s all dissolved. Chill until set!

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