Fresh / From-Scratch: Vegan Magic Jelly!

Strawberry Apple Vegan Gelatin with agar agar

There's a song I can't get out of my head. My 2-year old listens to a Nursery Rhyme playlist on Spotify, and there's this one song that keeps playing. It goes like this:

"Jelly on a plate
Jelly on a plate
Wibble wobble, wibble wobble
jelly on a plate!

Sausage in a pan
Sausage in a pan
Sizzle sizzle..."

It starts out cute, gets stuck in your head, and puts a sweet idea of jello in your mind's palate.

But sausage? To my vegetarian family, that image is either completely foreign or just flat out disgusting to think of.

Come to think of it, though, they don't even have a clue about jello, either! Being that gelatin is made from animal bones, it's not exactly suitable eats for vegetarians (so no jello or marshmallows). This song should be titled "Delicious Things Vegetarians Can't Have".

So I've made it my mission to figure out vegan gelatin / no-jello / jelly - by whatever name. I picked up some agar agar flakes a while back, and I'm determined to make use of them. Agar is basically a type of seaweed, which can be used as a thickening or congealing agent like gelatin.

The first attempt didn't go well, but luckily my kids have no idea what real jello even is.

Vegan jello round 1: not enough agar flakes. A reminder that just because a couple blogs or sites say it works, doesn't mean it will... research, test, repeat!
From the looks of my kitchen, the process reminds me somewhat of Nanny Plum's Magic Jelly spells on Ben & Holly's Magic Kingdom. I'm not sure if I'm able to post a video, but here's a go at it:

In this, my 2nd attempt to make "magic jelly... more more more!", my kitchen looks a biiiit like a magic jelly flood this morning.....

Water droplets trail from sink to counter to juicer from the washed fruits. Kids are excited, no time to clean up.

Seeds popped away from the apple during slicing. Kids are pulling on my elbows. No time to clean up.

They take turns filling the juicer tube and flipping the power switch, causing the exciting whirring and grinding noises. Red and yellow juice pours into the pitcher.

"Me try some!" (Nia)
"Put it in my cup!" (Ian)
"No spilling, it will stain! Be careful! Just a little, we need some for the magic jelly!" (Me, obviously...)

Ok, so nobody spilled, whew!

Juice drips onto the counter as we transfer it to the pot. Juice and pulp stick to the counter as I skim and transfer bits with the skimmer to the disposal. Lemon seeds dot the counter as I squeeze juice into the mix.

Bits of sugar stick to the measuring cup and splay across the counter.

The whole mix is boiled on the stove, a stool is brought over for the tall one to watch the Agar Agar flakes dissolve... I hope I don't forget and trip on it!

Yet another pan is dirtied to make agar-thickened cashew cream. Vanilla extract leaves a ring where I've hastily tossed the measuring spoon.

I'm sure you have a picture of my messy, sticky, pulpy, juicy kitchen now. And if you have small children, this image is all too familiar, like, every day. Time spent concocting goodies from scratch, always leads to time spent cleaning up and then not actually hanging out with the kids.

But soon we shall have magic jelly... I hope it's worth it!

...Scroll down for an update on how it went.....

Strawberry Apple No-Jello:
I used a ratio of 4 cups liquid to 3 tablespoons Agar Agar FLAKES.
That's 3-1/2 Cups fresh juice from strawberries and apples, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus about 1/2 cup water.
Mixed in 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar and boiled for 2 minutes.
Whisked in 3 generous tablespoons agar agar flakes.
Boiled for 1 minute, simmered 5 minutes, cooled 5 minutes.
Ended up with 3 cups of liquid due to evaporation, poured into 5 glasses, cooled, stirred again, covered, refrigerated several hours.

Cashew whipped cream: Didn't work out. Hello garbage disposal, goodbye yucky taupe-colored sour pudding!

This was a pretty good attempt at "jello". It wasn't wibble-wobbly, though. Maybe because of the fiber and pulp due to juicing fresh fruits, or the fact that I added a bit of lemon. The texture reminds me of when my mom would add a little orange juice to the gelatin mix, giving it a kind of a grainy, slushy consistency. Which is a good thing, but not the classic look.  Next time I'll try a bit more agar agar flakes and see if it creates the proper wobbles, but I think commercially produced juice may be the only way to get that clear jiggly "jello".


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