Jello is so refreshing.

When I was a child, a leafy-green salad was prepared almost every evening of the year, including on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our custom was to eat our salad after the main course, but on many holidays the healthy bowlful was discovered too late, waiting forgotten on the kitchen counter, long after anyone had any appetite left.

GJ preparing heavy dishes

My husband’s family introduced me to the tradition of jello at Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law had a nice strawberry jello salad that our whole family came to appreciate because it was one item on the heavy-laden table that wasn’t calorie-dense and fat-heavy.

Over the decades since then we’ve had a variety of lighter dishes on our table for these feasts, including Korean Kale Salad and other salads that may seem odd to the typical palate but keep us feeling like our usual happy Glad folk. For many years we let the jello custom lapse, probably because it was too sweet, and we didn’t need another item that seemed to belong in the dessert category.

When half my life was past I discovered that I did love grapefruit after all, and I experimented with creating a gelatin salad recipe that would be less sweet, and would feature the refreshingly bitter-sour tang of grapefruit. I love grapefruit even more after having lived in Turkey briefly, where they spell it greypfrut. But I didn’t eat any jello there, so that is just name-dropping — even though as you can see the Turks did not drop the name when they were changing the spelling.

Here now is the current version of my gelatin salad. I have played around with it over the years, using coconut milk and pineapple juice at times, making a smaller batch, and adding fresh peeled orange sections when I had them. So it is definitely flexible  — try it with your own preferred flavors or handy ingredients.

Grapefruit Gelatin Salad

64 oz. Ocean Spray Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice Drink
7 envelopes unflavored gelatin granules
1 qt. L&A or any pineapple-coconut juice
1 cup sugar
peeled fresh orange sections or a large can crushed pineapple

Put about 6 cups of the Ruby Red in a pot and whisk in the gelatin. Heat these together until the gelatin is dissolved. Add and dissolve the sugar, remove from heat and add the remainder of the Ruby Red along with the pineapple-coconut juice.

Refrigerate the gelatin until partly jelled. Stir in the fruit and refrigerate again until firm. I think next time I will put some sweetened flaked coconut on the top.

About the size of the pan: The one I use holds more than 3 quarts, and this salad after the fruit is added comes right to the top. It would be easier and maybe prettier to use a jello mold or fluted pan(s); then when the fruit has been mixed in I could prepare the pans by putting some shredded coconut and even a few maraschino cherries before adding the gelatin-fruit mixture.

I’d very much like to hear from any of you who also have favorite salad or vegetable dishes that lighten up your holiday menus. Leave a comment or link me to your blog. Thanks in advance! Oh, and if you just have jello stories, as I do, please tell me those, too.

7 thoughts on “Jello is so refreshing.

  1. My favorite item on the otherwise heavy holiday plate is the cranberry salad. We always just use a bag of whole cranberries from the produce section, and add a cup of water and a cup of sugar, boil gently until the berries mostly burst, remove from stove, cool, and refrigerate. It thickens as it cools. I love a little bite of that, with each bite of turkey or potatoes.

    I don't make much jello, even though my kids loved it. I just didn't remember it. But at those churchy ladies' luncheons, someone invariably brings the delectable strawberry/pretzel jello salad — have you had it? Oh my!! It's really a dessert. The sweet/salty thing is most addicting.


  2. When you said “Jello” my first thought was YUCK, then I see that you didn't use that brand! I do love Knox gelatin, and fruit juices…I even made a cheesecake with gelatin (no eggs)that was good. ♥
    When I was a kid, my aunt used to make lime Jello with cottage cheese and fruit for Thanksgiving!!!


  3. Helllo, I found you by way of a blog hop! You never know how one will find another blogger, but I am glad I came across your blog. It is refreshing, and so well written!
    I enjoyed reading your posts.
    This grapefruit salad sounds delicious to me as I love grapefruit!
    Thank you for sharing your recipe.


  4. This recipe is lovely! I've never made gelatin other than from a box of Jell-o, but this is tempting!

    We have a nice fruit salad with our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. It has whipped cream, but is still nice and light, with pineapples, bananas and cherries mixed in.



  5. My grandma almost always served jello “salad” for Sunday dinners. (usually overdone pork chops and green beans cooked to mush – was she a bad cook or were we always late?) She made a lot of varieties with different kinds of canned fruit: orange with mandarin slices, green with cottage cheese and pears, red with mixed fruit, red with cranberries, cream cheese and nuts, green with cool whip and pineapples. Whatever it was, it was always the best thing on the table, at least to us kids. She served it in squares on separate dishes, sometimes on a piece of lettuce. Our mom would make our other grandma's variety: red with cottage cheese, Cool Whip, and pineapples, which we called Pink Stuff, although it was a fluff – much easier because you don't have to wait for it to set.


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