This seemingly harmless gelatin is actually derived from the bones and skin (hide) of pigs and cows. The production of gelatin begins with boiling the bones, skins, and hides which releases collagen. This collagen is then processed and dried and used in shampoos, cosmetics, coating on vitamins, on photographic film, and to thicken jello and puddings. Take this gelatin and add some artificial sweeteners and food dyes and you have yourself some brightly colored jello. Not exactly the mix I want my girls to be ingesting on a regular basis.
I was excited last summer when I started discovering other alternatives to making jello. Turns out there is this amazing little substance called Agar Agar that does the trick and no animal bones or hides are involved. Agar Agar is a vegetarian gelatin substitute produced from a variety of seaweed vegetation. Agar agar is actually a combination of various sea veggies and just like any other gelatin, it can be used to firm up jellies, pies and puddings. It simply dissolves in hot liquid and thickens at room temperature. It is sold in health food stores, and comes in both flake and powder varieties. It's not an inexpensive purchase so if at all available try purchasing it online or from a co-op. This makes it much more cost effective.
This particular version of jello was based on one of my favorite spring time combos, strawberries and rhubarb. It creates a bright, pretty color with no food dyes added. A pan of this doensn't last long around our house.
I hope you enjoy a fun twist on the traditional jiggly jello!
Strawberry Rhubarb Jello (veganized)
- 3 Rhubarb Stalks
- 2 cups Strawberry Puree***
- 1/2 cup water
- Honey or Pure Maple Syrup for sweetness
- 1 1/2 tsp Agar Agar powder
2. Add the strawberry puree to the rhubarb sauce and heat up.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the Agar is dissolved.
5. Poor into 8x8 pan and cool for several hours.
6. Cut and enjoy!
***Another option is to use jam. I have done this as well and it makes a thicker jello which is quite tasty as well.
***Juice can be substituted to make other flavors. I would recommend omitting the rhubarb in that case because it is just an extra in this recipe. This leaves the door wide open for all sorts of interesting flavor combos.