Cranberry Gelatin Salad

Cranberry gelatin saladShoot. You need Grandma’s cranberry gelatin salad without Jell-O’s red food dye? We’ve got it.  She’ll be shocked at your ingenuity–or the fact that you think Jell-O isn’t “healthy.”  (By now your mother has made it perfectly clear you’ve gone over the edge with your eating. “She won’t eat that…”)

Cranberry Gelatin Salad

  • 12 ounce package of fresh cranberries
  • Zest of two oranges
  • 2 oranges, peeled after zesting and then diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups of juice (I have used apple juice and 50/50 pear/cranberry. Cranberry gives it a brilliant red color but is quite tart.)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon plain gelatin (I use Great Lakes but Knox would work.)
  • 3/4 cup of honey (or sugar)

1. Chop cranberries in a food processor (or blender) with the 3 cups of juice.
2. Drain the juice into a medium saucepan.  I run it through a strainer into the saucepan.
3. Set aside.
4. Combine the chopped cranberries with honey, diced oranges, orange zest and walnuts in medium-sized bowl. (If you want to avoid dirtying an extra dish, combine these ingredients in your prettiest glass serving dish. Otherwise, just transfer later.) Set aside.
5. Go back to the saucepan with juice. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of gelatin over the juice. Place on stovetop and heat the juice mixture over medium heat, whisking the whole time to dissolve the gelatin. Heat it until the gelatin is completely dissolved, but don’t bring it to a boil.
6. Pour the gelatin/juice mixture over the orange/nut/honey/cranberry mixture. Stir to mix.  Taste.  Is it sweet enough?  If not, add a touch more sweetener.  If it is, perfect.
7. If you haven’t already, transfer this mixture to a pretty glass serving dish. It looks really delightful to the eye.
8. Refrigerate until set up, maybe six hours.
9. Serve.  Ideally with whipped cream if you can!

Family “gustar” report: Well, let’s see. It’s cranberry salad.  I wouldn’t touch it as a kid.  Now I love it.  The in-laws loved it.  My eight-year old loves it.  Even my brother-in-law was happy to see cranberry salad at the scary gluten-free, dairy-free buffet!  If they like cranberry salad, this will go over without a missed beat.

To me, the real question is, “How is it compared to using Jello-brand red gelatin?” It is very similar. The color is not so red. Sometimes you don’t quite nail the gelatin consistency. I have found it is best to err on the side of too little. IF this doesn’t set up, then you can go back and put it in a saucepan, warm it up, add another teaspoon or two of gelatin, and then pour it back in the pretty bowl. Nobody will know. (Except two squirrely sisters over there chopping onions, yelling, “Tape this. Tape this. Put it on your blog.”) And finally, I think they must add some citric acid or something to give Jell-O a tart taste. I’ve noticed that anytime I make gelatin, it just lacks that tiny little punch that makes processed foods so desirable to the tongue.

This will keep days in the fridge, so you can definitely make it ahead!

Hope your eating is just where you want it to be this Holiday Season! Eat for your health! ~~Terri

Child eating the last of the cranberry salad

25 thoughts on “Cranberry Gelatin Salad

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks! I think it is a great “whole foods, real ingredients recipe”–especially if this is the traditional kind of cranberry salad a family makes (rather than the saucy kind, if you know what I mean) for The Holidays. My father-in-law was going to make it with red Jell-O as usual, and I could just see in my head my red food dye sensitive child spinning giddily in circles, grinning at midnight…

  1. Katy

    I have taken artificial color out of my son’s diet and it made a definite noticeable difference in his ability to handle his emotions (tolerance for frustation, mood swings, over all stability). Yay!

  2. IrishMum

    Looks yum, I will have to try it. I have gotten a bit boring with my cooking, and stick to a few tried and trusted recipes. This looks like the place to start!!

  3. Beth

    Thanks for this recipe. It is very similar to my Mom’s, but I wasn’t sure how to convert her recipe with
    colored red geletin! Thanks!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I have never added pineapple but I’ll take a stab. Fresh pineapple cannot be added to any gelatin recipe as it will break down the gelatin. It will NOT set. So that won’t work. But I’ve read that canned pineapple will set because it has been heated to the point that the enzyme (bromelain) which breaks down the gelatin, has been destroyed. So that could be tried. I’d probably add about 1/2 cup to start and drain it very well. If you don’t drain it well, then you’ll need slightly more gelatin. Then, if that’s good, go up next year… 🙂 Hope that helps! If you try it and it works, let me know! I’ll add it as a variation to the bottom of this recipe! Maybe I’ll get a chance to try it out this week myself!–Terri

      1. Kathy Baker

        I’ll try draining it well and using 1/2 cup as you said. My mom used to make a cranberry, pineapple, orange, nut, recipe when I was growing up but used Jello. I don’t want to use jello but I want some pineapple in it. I’ll add a bit more gelatin, don’t think that will hurt anything. Will let you know next week. Thanks.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I made it today with canned “pineapple bits in juice.” I drained the pineapple as well as I could. I added 1 cup of pineapple simply in addition to the recipe as written. Then, I subtracted 1 cup of apple juice from the recipe and used 1 cup of the pineapple juice that I drained off in place of it. I did not change the gelatin amount. The flavor with the pineapple and juice is awesome! But yes, I think it needed about, not sure, maybe 1 teaspoon more of gelatin or so. It still set, but not firm. More on the runny side. I presume that the extra gelatin would firm it up—unless a bit of the enzymatic action of the pineapple is still occurring?!? I like the pineapple in there! Thanks!!! And do let me know if you try!!—Terri

      3. Kathy Baker

        I’ll definitely make it and add more gelatin. We always used canned pineapple (my mom) and it would firm up, using Jello, just want to use the Great Lakes. I sometimes make gummy squares using Great Lakes, just I have to be careful I don’t put too much and make the salad into gummy squares lol Thanks for making some!

      4. Kathy Baker

        Could taste good to make cranberry juice gummy squares. I many times just take some sort of juice and add the gelatin and that’s it and they come out fine, some a bit more chewy than others lol

      5. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Kathy, Kathy! No, wait! I checked the salad this morning, and it was perfectly set! I’d assumed that I had given it enough time in the fridge, since I had put some in a big bowl for Thanksgiving and then some in a small bowl to see how it did so I could tell you. Both are firm but not gummy at all. And so tasty! I wish I knew how to attach a photo to comments so you could see the consistency. I personally wouldn’t change a thing!

      6. kathyinrome2003

        Made my cranberry relish and also some cranberry pineapple gummies. Added 1 teaspoon more gelatin in the relish!

        Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

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