Start This Recipe 2-3 hours before you want to eat it
I totally know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of “A Jell-O mold salad? Where am I, South Dakota?” I was surprised to see this recipe in Nourishing Traditions. But this week I’m using up the last of my garden carrots, and so I was searching for carrot recipes. And once I thought about it, it actually started to seem reasonable. Gelatin salads get a bad rap because they usually use Jell-O, which has nothing to recommend it nutritionally, and because they usually mix in things like marshmallows or miniature Snickers bars (I kid you not, I was once served a “Snickers Salad”). In my house we call things like this “dessert”, not “salad”.
But when used in a more thoughtful way, gelatin has much to offer. Consider this statement, lifted directly from Nourishing Traditions “Gelatin acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion and has been used successfully in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease.” That certainly got my attention. Gelatin is what is called hydrophilic, meaning it attracts liquids. This is what causes it to attract water and to “gel”. This same property attracts digestive juices in the stomach to aid in rapid and effective digestion. I’ve mentioned before how my naturopath and I have been experimenting with gelatin
in my diet. So I thought this recipe seemed like a good thing to try out.
I’m happy to give this one a Cook’s Rating of all three stars. My food processor made quick work of shredding the carrots and that was the hardest part. I had high hopes for it at the dinner table, thinking it was slightly sweet and it looked like fun, so what kid could resist it? The three youngest kids liked it, the Pickle even said “Mom, can I have that yummy-looking stuff? That dessert?” I mean, what more can you ask for?? But for some reason it didn’t appeal to the older set. So this one gets three thumbs up.
- 2 cups carrots grated
- 1 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
- 1⁄2 cup crispy pecans chopped (p 513)
- 1 tbsp high quality gelatin
- 1⁄2 cup cold water
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1-2 tbsp raw honey
- 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
- 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Mix carrots, coconut, ginger and pecans and strew into a 4-cup ring mold.
I don’t know anyone who has a gelatin mold. I see them at thrift stores all the time and am tempted by their nostalgia. But really, who can justify the space required for another pan, that is only used for gelatin salads? I put mine into a bundt pan and think it worked just fine. I chose to leave out the pecans, because I can’t have nuts right now and I wanted to be able to eat this dish.
2. Soften gelatin in cold water. Add boiling water and dissolve thoroughly. Add honey, salt and orange juice and pour mixture into mold.
I’m not sure what the purpose is behind “softening” the gelatin before adding the boiling water. Some say that an initial soak in cold water before adding the hot water makes for fewer clumps. Some say that it really doesn’t matter one way or another. I followed the instructions and it worked out fine, so I guess that’s the way I recommend doing it.
Be sure to buy a high quality, “clean” gelatin. There are two main types, porcine or bovine. The first is made from pig skin. The second is made from cow hooves. You want either of these sources to be as clean as possible (because the alternative is just too gross to think about–eww.) I also would recommend something that has not been bleached or refined. I use the Now brand, because it’s a brand that I trust. I noticed a few other choices at our local health food store.
I chose to omit the salt here, thinking it didn’t really sound like a tasty addition. I’ve since read that salt will lower the gel strength of gelatin, so maybe that was a smart move in other ways, too. I thought at first I didn’t have quite enough liquid and would have to add some more water, but once I smooshed everything down with a wooden spoon it was covered. If you want yours to be more jelly-like and less dense, I bet you could double the liquid without a problem.
3. Chill until firm.
This took about two hours in my fridge.
4. To unmold, dip briefly in hot water.
After running some hot water over the bottom of your gelatin mold, cover the top of your mold with your desired serving platter. Invert the mold. The gelatin should slide right out. If not, give it a little more hot water and try again. Don’t warm it up too much or else it will get runny.