This is a super easy treat to make, and you can make it year-round using whatever fruits are in season. The recipe looks like there are a lot of steps, but making a blood orange and meyer lemon jell dessert can be broken down into 5 easy steps: 1) bloom the gelatine in 1 cup of water; 2) juice fruits till you have 4 cups; 3) microwave juice till hot; 4) combine hot juice and gelatine, add sugar and stir; 5) pour into cups and chill.
Once you have that concept down, you’ll find yourself making a new batch as soon as the jars are empty. I find myself scouring the farmers market to see what I can use to make this season’s fun fruit jell combination!
Your Choice Of Fruit
It’s March in the San Francisco South Bay area where I am writing this, and that means backyards are overflowing with citrus trees filled with fruit. In addition to our dwarf meyer lemon trees, we have two orange trees. One is a regular orange, and the other is a blood orange tree. I never had blood oranges growing up, so this was a new treat for me. Every time I cut one open, I’m amazed at the gorgeous colors!
Later in the summer I like to use strawberries and make a really beautiful, refreshing Strawberry Lemonade version.
I like my deserts a bit more on the tart and less sweet side, so I use meyer lemon juice with the berries or oranges, but you can choose to leave out the lemon and double down on the berries. It’s all about making it the way you like. Try different combinations. As long as the quantity is the same , the results should be perfect. For fruits like berries, if you don’t want the seeds in your jell, you can push them through a mesh strainer.
Your Choice Of Sugar
I like to use different types of sugar when I make my desserts. They all have their place. Since I wanted this one to be more diet-worthy, I decided to try a lower Glycemic Index (GI) sugar: organic brown coconut sugar. It is still a natural sweetener, and I find it about the same sweetness as regular brown sugar, maybe slightly less. However, it doesn’t have the bitter flavor that many alternate sweeteners have.
As a dark sweeetener, it does make the blood orange and meyer lemon jell color darker, and imparts an earthier, molasses-like flavor (but not that intense, more like a light brown sugar). It’s perfect for deep red jells. For my strawberry lemonade version I used regular sugar because I didn’t want it darkened. Honey is another good choice. You can choose which works best.
The Technique Of Gelatine
Before you start juicing your fruit, you need to “bloom” the gelatine. That means adding it to room-temp water so it absorbs the liquid, making it easy to melt. If you don’t get the gelatine bloomed properly, you can end up with lumps that won’t mix in.
There is an easy technique to learn for getting the gelatine right. I like to use the widest mixing bowl I have. The idea is to get as much surface area as possible. I use one cup of room-temp water (not warm!) and 3 packets of Knox gelatine. One at a time, tear open the packet and lightly sprinkle the powdered gelatine over the surface. Using a back-and-forth motion, lightly dust the surface of the water.
If the surface is completely covered with dry powder, stop for a few moments. The water will absorb from below and you will see it looking wet. Start dusting again, over the wet areas. Keep pausing to give the gelatine time to absorb, without stirring the water/powder at all.
No Need To Stir
When the three packets have been added, set it aside. DO NOT, I repeat, do not stir the mixture at all. Let it absorb the water naturally. Move on to juicing your fruit and let it do it’s thing. (My BF Trilo calls this method ‘casual indifference’).
The mixture will look transparent and rumpled when you get back to it. Perfect! BTW, if this part didn’t go perfectly, don’t fret. When we add hot liquid any white bits may still melt away. And if that still doesn’t work, you can strain your mixture to remove any remaining lumps. I had to do this when I tried to rush the process, but it still worked out in the end.
Small Jars For Serving And Storing
Small jars work well for these desserts because they stack easily in my small fridge. They are the perfect portion size when I want a snack, but don’t want to kill my diet. I have a couple of recipes that I use them with (including my Meyer LemonCurd Semifreddo).
These 4 oz. canning jars work great for me. There are solid lid and 2-part canning lid styles. I use them both equally. No, I don’t do canning – I use them in my freezer or refrigerator. The size is perfect for a small flavor treat.
From The Jar Or Fancy
I usually just eat my blood orange and meyer lemon jell dessert out of the jar with a spoon, but you can also turn them out onto a plate and serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
- Gather ingredients and tools.
- Using the wide mixing bowl, add 1 cup of room temp water (not hot). Sprinkle the gelatine over the water slowly giving it time to absorb. Do not stir. Set aside.Note: See the post above for detailed technique on blooming the gelatine.
- While the gelatine is resting, cut oranges and lemons in half.
- Using a citrus juicer, juice all of the oranges.
- You want about 3 cups of blood orange juice.
- Juice the lemons and add to the orange juice. You need a total of 4 cups of juice.Note: you can use whatever fruits are in season. Just make sure you have 4 cups of fruit juice after juicing. If you are under, you can add some water.
- Heat the fruit juice in the microwave, or in a saucepan on the stove. Heat until hot to the touch without scalding. Don’t boil the juice.
- Pour the hot juice into the bowl with the softened gelatine. Stir with a spatula until all of the gelatine melts into the juice.Note: if your juice isn’t hot enough, the gelatine won’t melt properly. If you still have lumps you can spoon some of the juice into the measuring cup and reheat it in the microwave and return it to the bowl. You can also strain the juice into a metal strainer and press the lumps through with a spoon to break them up.
- Add the coconut sugar and stir in.
- Mix well with a spatula, scraping around the edges and up from the bottom to make sure it is well mixed.
- Using a large ladle, spoon the jell mixture into the cups. Fill to about a half-inch from the top. Put lids on and tighten.
- Put cups into the refrigerator for a few hours to set.
- Jell deserts can be eaten straight from the cups with a spoon, or turned out onto a plate. Top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and berries.Note: to make it easy to turn out, dip jar into hot water for a few seconds, and run a knife around the edge of the jar.