Naturally Flavored Homemade Strawberry Gelatin for Dessert

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When I’m thinking back to all the classic dishes and desserts of my childhood, Jell-O is definitely in the top ten.

Vertical image of two glass bowls with strawberry gelatin, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I couldn’t get enough of the wobbly treat.

No flavor was off limits, as far as I was concerned. And the dessert shelf never disappointed in offering a rainbow of choices.

But by far, the saccharine, mouth-puckering strawberry flavor was my favorite.

Notice how I called it strawberry flavor? Make no mistake about it – the real fruit was nowhere to be found when this sweet treat was on the menu.

As I grew older, childhood tastes faded as my maturing palate demanded more sophisticated dishes and healthier desserts.

But this refrigerated indulgence has entered my life once again, thanks to my kids, who are on a constant quest to get as much sugar into their bodies as possible.

Vertical image of three small glass bowls filled with a clear strawberry dessert with sliced fruit on a light surface next to fresh fruit.

I happily disappoint them at every turn, denying them overly-processed foods. However, their panicked pleas for treats began a search for natural options that I could quickly and easily make at home.

Fortunately, some desserts can be made just like the classics, but even better and – more importantly – healthier.

Choosing my favorite flavor was a no-brainer. In this recipe, I’ve enhanced the natural sweetness of the strawberries with honey.

While the recipe does call for a bit of added sugar, at least it isn’t processed.

My hand is gentle, adding just enough to alter the taste slightly and to bring a sticky grin to my kids’ faces. However, the aim here is for the fresh strawberries and puree to take the spotlight.

Vertical image of a strawberry dessert in a glass dish next to a metal spoon, a lime, and more fresh berries on a light surface.

And what makes this mama’s heart beat with joy?

There is nary an artificial dye or preservative in sight. We can make dishes that honor what food is supposed to look like. Keep the neon colors for neon signs, and let’s indulge in the often gentle, more nuanced colors of real food.

Taking a spoonful, I could still spy quite a few seeds, even after straining – each one packing a nutritional punch.

If you can, use pure, raw honey instead of commercially processed kinds. And look for grass-fed beef gelatin. We recommend Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin, which is available on Amazon.

Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin, 16 ounces, available on Amazon

If that’s hard to come by or price-prohibitive, a Kosher version will do just fine.

I’m usually in a hurry for most things, so when I chill this dessert, I like to use smaller vessels. That means less time in the fridge, and a faster delivery to the table.

Vertical image of a spoon with a piece of strawberry over a glass bowl with a light red dessert with more of the same dessert in the background.

Keep in mind that this dessert will continue to solidify, so that delightful wobble will only last for a day or so. Refrigerate it any longer, and the gelatin will take on a stiffer texture.

Because of the spectacular preservation qualities of the lime juice, the taste should hold for at least three days.

Print
Horizontal image of a strawberry dessert in a glass dish next to a metal spoon, a lime, and more fresh berries on a light surface.

Naturally Flavored Homemade Strawberry Gelatin for Dessert


  • Author: Katherine and Eddie D’Costa
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 18 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Sweet and tart, naturally sweetened strawberry gelatin is a healthy homemade dessert. It’s simple to make, with just five ingredients.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, divided (about 20 ounces)
  • 3 ounces lime juice (from about 23 large)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons powdered gelatin 
  • 1 cup water
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
  • Additional sliced strawberries, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Slice stems from strawberries and puree 2 cups fruit in a blender or food processor
  2. Slice remaining strawberries and set aside.
  3. Strain puree through a medium or fine mesh strainer into a bowl. This should yield about 1 cup of puree.
  4. Stir in lime juice and honey.
  5. Measure 1/2 cup puree into a mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Set aside to bloom for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Place a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining puree and the water, and bring to a boil. 
  7. Whisk the hot puree into the bowl with the puree and gelatin mixture, whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved and the mixture is thoroughly combined.
  8. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. When the mixture is as thick as the white of an egg, spoon off any foam that has risen to the surface.
  9. Add the sliced strawberries to molds or 4 glasses and pour the chilled mixture into each container, about 1/2 cup each. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until it wobbles.
  10. To unmold, dip each mold in warm water for 1 minute, then invert onto a plate. Or, serve directly in a glass. Top with whipped cream and additional sliced fruit before serving.

  • Category: Gelatin
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: Strawberry, gelatin, honey

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep Strawberries and Measure Ingredients

With a knife, slice the stems from the strawberries and discard them. If you have a strawberry hulling tool, feel free to use that!

Horizontal image of a bowl of whole strawberries, two limes, a glass dish of honeys and measuring cups on a wooden cutting board with yellow corners.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients. Juice the limes.

Puree 2 cups of the fruit in a blender or food processor.

Slice the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries, and set them aside. For us, this was about 6 medium-sized berries.

Strain the puree through a medium or fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Don’t aim to strain out the seeds, just the excess pulp. Measure out 1 cup of puree. Any strained pulp and excess can be added to a smoothie.

Horizontal image of a glass measuring cup filled with a light red liquid mixture on a wooden surface.

Stir in the lime juice and honey.

Raw honey is the best option to use, as it retains most of its nutrients and doesn’t contain any added ingredients. Feel free to use commercially produced honey if that’s the only option you can find.

Step 2 – Bloom Gelatin

Measure 1/2 cup of strawberry puree into a mixing bowl, and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface.

Horizontal image of blooming powdered gelatin in a bowl on a wooden surface.

Let it bloom for 2 to 3 minutes. Blooming means the granules absorb the liquid they’re scattered on. Always bloom the granules on just a portion of the overall liquid used in a recipe.

Step 3 – Prepare Base

Place a medium-sized saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining puree and the water, and bring to a boil.

Horizontal image of a pot filled with a light red liquid mixture on a wooden surface.

Whisk the hot puree into the bowl with the puree and gelatin mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, until all of the granules have dissolved.

Step 4 – Refrigerate and Remove Foam

Place the bowl in the refrigerator.

Horizontal image of a metal bowl with a frothy light red liquid on a wooden cutting board.

When the mixture is as thick as the white of an egg, about an hour later, spoon off any foam that has risen to the surface.

Step 5 – Refrigerate Again and Serve

Distribute the sliced strawberries evenly among 4 gelatin molds or dessert glasses, and pour the gelatin mixture into each serving dish, about 1/2 cup each.

Horizontal image of four glass dishes with sliced berries on the bottom on a wooden surface.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until it wobbles.

To unmold, dip each mold in warm water for about a minute, then invert onto a plate. Or, serve right in the parfait glasses.

Horizontal top-down image of glass bowls filled with a strawberry gelatin and fruit slices next to whole limes, fruit, and metal spoons.

You can add a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top before serving, or more sliced strawberries if you like.

Can I Use Sheet Gelatin?

Powdered gelatin is more readily available in US supermarkets than the sheet variety. Should you have sheets on hand, however, you can still use them.

Horizontal image of a group of small glass bowls filled with a strawberry dessert next to whole fruit on a light surface.

One sheet is equal to approximately 1 teaspoon of the powdered version. This recipe would require 6 sheets.

To prep leaf gelatin for use in this recipe, soak the sheets in 12 cups of cold water for about 5 to 10 minutes, to allow it to soften. Remove from the water, and squeeze out the excess. Then add the softened gelatin to the puree and allow it to bloom as directed in the recipe. Discard the water.

Was this just as easy to make as the store-bought boxed stuff? Did you add extra strawberries, and a dollop of whipped cream on top? Tell us all about it below and rate the recipe too!

Horizontal image of a strawberry dessert in a glass dish next to a metal spoon, a lime, and more fresh berries on a light surface.

Gelatin is a versatile ingredient that helps to make magical desserts. If you liked the texture of this dessert, you’ll love our other sweet puddings and custard-style desserts, like these:

Photos by Katherine and Eddie D’Costa, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on May 18, 2011. Last updated: August 4, 2020 at 19:43 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Eddie & Katherine D'Costa

Eddie and Katherine D’Costa are a married professional chef and journalist duo from Atlanta, where they cook up a variety of international dishes, tested for the home cook. Katherine holds an MA in journalism from Northeastern University and Eddie’s professional experience spans 20 years working with Wolfgang Puck, Jean George Vongerichten, and Todd English.

25 thoughts on “Naturally Flavored Homemade Strawberry Gelatin for Dessert”

  1. Strangest thing, as I actually addressed this idea of the ubiquity and democracy of all things Jello in a class last year. I grew up kosher so gelatin things were off limits. We had Jello-esque substitutes, but their consistency didn’t come close. I eat gelatin when I want to now, and am quite excited to give your recipe a shot. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. You’re welcome, Jenny. Hope you enjoy!

    Cool, Molly! And another awesome thing about this gelatin is it’s even kosher. So if you were still eating that way, you could still have this. : )

    Reply
  3. i am daydreaming about the different fruits that could be used, or even leaving in diced fruit. then i am mentally calculating how i could make the jello firmer to creates shapes etc.

    Reply
  4. I haven’t made jello for a while because of the pig gelatin- after learning about the method in culinary school I couldnt bring myself to do it, despite loving jello. Thanks for the link to this grass fed gelatin- i think it may be time to bring jello back into the fold!

    Reply
  5. I just made this! I left half the batch unsweetened for Brad and sweetened the other half for my friend who is fighting stomach upset this week. I can’t get her to drink kombucha, but I bet she’ll eat this! Thanks, friend. 🙂

    Reply
  6. A couple things. 1. I didn’t know gelatin came from pigs. Whoa! I have read that it’s good for the gut though, so maybe I should try it. 2. A trivia question the other day on The Mix was what food have only 3% of Americans never had, and the answer was jello! I know what you’re thinking… Alicia still blabbers on about what she hears on The Mix. Some things never change 🙂

    Reply
  7. Hi Shannalee – I get a lot of slow food followers and vegans in my classes who still want to “jello” ocassionally. The slow fooders will love that you’ve searched that out!
    With regard to the vegans, I have had great success using agar-agar, though it requires a bit of playing with – we use it to make all kinds of “noodles” for sweet coconut asian-style dessert drinks.

    kudos to you!

    dorette of http://www.plantingcabbages.com

    Reply
  8. My family ate jello all the time, but I’ve never had it. It kinda grossed me out. But if I can get over the texture, I could give this a try! I like the idea of a real fruit based dessert. Looks pretty and I love the colour.

    Reply
  9. Lan, I bet if you upped the amount of gelatin, you’d get more firmness. Added bonus: the more gelatin, the better nutrition!

    Bianca, Enjoy!

    Joanna, Yay! : ) And guess who bought an entire case of kombucha yesterday? Yes, yes, I did.

    Alicia, I miss you.

    Dorette, Great!

    Kickpleat, Ha! You could play around with the texture by upping or lowering the amount of gelatin (assuming it’s the firmness that weirds you out). Or adding fruit throughout? To break up the texture? That sounds fun!

    Reply
  10. I will definitely be on the lookout for this grass-fed beef gelatin! This homemade jello variety looks fantastic and can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  11. I used to love jello, but the mere mention of grass fed jello kind of makes my tummy quiver. Maybe it is the link between gelatin (and where it comes from) and jello? Not sure, I’m trying to wrap my brain around it though!

    Reply
  12. Gelatin from grass-fed cows? This was a totally enlightening post on an issue I’d never thought about. You continue to surprise me—in the best way possible!

    Reply
  13. Teresa, Hmmmm. It might work, but it would probably be a lot sweeter because of the additional sugar.

    Peggy, Awesome!

    Anne, Ha! It’s a whole new world, I know!

    Maddie, Right? Tim talks about the difference between porcine (from pigs) and bovine (from cows) gelatin, which sounds so impressive to me. : ) I love all the new info. And I love that you enjoy it. : ) Thanks, friend!

    Reply
  14. Wow! I had no idea that gelatin was good for the gut… I love finding out things like that!

    Thanks for your kind words about the wedding photography! I wish I was in Chicago too!! It’s only a short flight away 🙂

    Congrats on the upcoming wedding, I had so much fun planning our wedding, have fun!!!

    Reply
  15. What a fascinating recipe! I’ve never even considered the possibility of making “homemade” jello, but now I can’t stop thinking about what it would taste like with pure ingredients (rather than cloyingly sweet artificial flavors)! Very interesting and unique.

    Reply
  16. Amanda, Oh, you’re killing me! We’ve already picked another photographer, but I really mean it when I say I wish we could have talked to you! Your photos are amazing.

    Natalie, Right? Hope you enjoy!

    Reply
  17. Shanna, is there a health benefit to taking beef vs. pork gelatin? I started my gelatin regimen this morning (slow to the party, I know!) after doing some extensive research last week. I’m making this recipe tonight! 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Heidi!
      We think there is a benefit of taking beef over pork. Primarily this is because I think that the quality of what the animal is consuming as well as its own ability to cleanse itself has a great effect on the quality of its makeup (its meat, bones, fats, etc). So eating gelatin from grassfed cows is coming from an animal that is eating greens and has multiple stomachs and has cleaner flesh than that of pigs. So that is why we recommend beef gelatin from grassfed cows.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  18. I bought this gelatin with the intention of making jelly for a trifle. I am not sure whether I can use fresh juice and if so how much juice to how much gelatin. I know the recipe here says one cup of gelatin but what size cup. Can you please give me an idea how many ozs. or gramms to how much juice. I am hoping to find organic grape or strawberry juice. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Rita, It’s funny you commented about this now; I just made some jello using this formula yesterday! So in metric terms, I would try

      8 ounces juice
      8 ounces water
      2 tablespoons (just to ensure a firm set) gelatin

      Sprinkle the gelatin over the room-temperature juice, and heat the water. Once it’s almost boiled, add it to the gelatin mixture and stir until it’s all dissolved. Chill until set!

      Reply

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