Instead of chicken soup, my Mom brought me cups of warm gelatin to nourish me back to life when I was sick. The perfect princess drink: delicate, but strong, with a full body, that was thick enough not to spill when you tried to sip it sitting up in bed. This drink was especially nice if your throat was sore, and easy to digest if your tummy hurt. I was eternally grateful every time it came to me in a tea cup. When warm, gelatin is thick and rich — and warm and comforting.
Using jello as a health food wasn’t that wacky of an idea. Gelatin is made from collagen from cow or pig bones, carcasses, and connective tissues – the same good stuff that goes into the broth for your chicken soup. This explains that gel stuff in the bottom of the pan when you roast chicken – the beginning stages of jello.
I feel privileged. I have never met a person who drank warm jello as a child. I’m the only one I know… I’m not even sure my brother received this treat.
At that time, there were unsubstantiated health claims that gelatin was full of protein, enzymes and amino acids that would heal your stomach, make you stronger, and definitely give you a beautiful manicure. While those claims were unsubstantiated, new research at Ball State University has found this: “It’s possible that gelatin can repair minor cartilage damage that may result in greater joint problems later. It’s also encouraging to be able to use a food supplement in alleviating joint pain rather than have to resort to prescription drugs.” Of course, this is from concentrated supplement, rather than the packages you find for dessert.
Let me clear up your concerns about Mad Cow Disease, “Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), from Dr. Weil: “The causative agent of BSE exists in nerve tissue of infected animals. Gelatin is purified collagen, a component of connective tissue that is not a problem.”
This news actually relieves me of much stress. Every time I’ve served my kids a marshmallow, I assumed I was walking a dangerously fine line between joy and mad cow disease.
The box kind, already laden with sugars and who knows what else, can be left alone, in favor of this scratch version. The addition of 7UP, full of electrolytes, was always, supposed to be, good for you when you’re sick. Although my mother always made warm gelatin with water, she would have relished this method that used flat 7-UP, her other health food.
- 1 two-liter bottle 7-UP, flat
- 4 1/4-ounce packages unflavored gelatin. (Knox)
- 2 drops blue food coloring
- Sprinkle gelatin evenly over 1 cup (not the whole bottle yet!) of 7-UP and food coloring.
- Place 2 cups soda in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until it starts to boil, and then add the gelatin mixture.
- Stir to dissolve over the heat for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Add the remaining soda, and serve.
Here’s another version that uses plain old juice.
- 2 cups fresh or good-quality bottled fruit juice. White grape juice is perfect, if you want to add blue food coloring to make blue jello.
- 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin. (knox)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional).
- Sugar or honey to taste.
- Blue Food coloring.
- Soak the gelatin with a few drops of food coloring in cold water until softened.
- Heat fruit juice to boiling point.
- Pour hot juice over gelatin.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Add sugar to taste.
Chill until set; or just stop right here, and pour that delicious goodness into a cup.