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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Buying canisters of unflavored gelatin

Sorry I couldn't get this posted for yesterday. I was playing mental health non-professional for the day, emphasis on "non-professional". All's good now, but I was wiped out for a day. Back, now, though!

left: 2 new canisters gelatin from Amazon
right: old box of 32 packets from wholesaler, about 3 years ago

So, in posting about what I bought, grocery-wise, for August, I mentioned that I finally got around to restocking our supply of unflavored gelatin. Previously, I had bought this in individual, four  1/2-cup serving each, packets, through Cash & Carry. It was still a pretty good deal from Cash & Carry, but I was looking for a less expensive way to purchase gelatin. And as I bought this through Amazon, this is a purchase any of you would be able to make. So, thought I'd share just what a good deal this is.

I use plain, unflavored gelatin, plus fruit juice or pureed fruit, to make salads and desserts. It's a good way to use excess garden fruit, or make a homemade fruit sauce (like rhubarb sauce) portable for brown bag lunches. Or, to make a jello base, for adding chopped miscellaneous fruit from the garden, for a fruit salad. (Last week, I found a couple of apples knocked off the tree. I brought them inside, cut off bruises and other bad spots, then chopped and added to a homemade lemon jello, made with bottled lemon juice, sugar, water and gelatin.)

I also use gelatin in chiffon pies and sorbet. Pumpkin chiffon pie is my family's favorite version of pumpkin pie, as it's light and airy. I make this pie several times per year. Another favorite of ours, using gelatin is Chocolate Bavarian Pie -- a whipped, mouse-like chocolate pie. I've also turned orange juice concentrate plus gelatin and sugar, into an orange chiffon pie, one year, when needing a dessert, was about to move, so had an otherwise empty pantry. It was surprisingly good, for such an ad lib, last-minute dessert. So, that's primarily what I use unflavored gelatin for.

Unflavored gelatin has an unlimited shelf life, if kept cool and completely dry. As for expiration dates on gelatin, it actually has more to do with the packaging breaking down, rather than any deterioration of the product. So, stored properly, so no moisture gets into the dry product, my unflavored gelatin should last as long as it needs to, before consuming all of the product. Once opened, a canister like this can be transferred to a glass jar with tight-sealing lid, or the entire canister can be placed into a gallon-size ziploc bag.

for a price comparison:

Through, a 1-lb canister sells for $10.18 each (when buying 2 canisters). One canister contains 283 servings. So, that's 14  1/2 cents per four 1/2-cup servings (equivalent to a small box of Jello, or one of the packets of unflavored gelatin), if using the recommended 2 teaspoons gelatin granules per 2 cups liquid. Phew -- the take away in that is   14  1/2 cents

Through Cash & Carry (a wholesaler with better prices than my standard grocery store on this product), a box of 32 envelopes (to make 128 1/2-cup servings), costs $11.88. That works out to 37 cents per 4  1/2 cup servings, using 1 packet per 2 cups liquid.  37 cents

Buying in a canister is 60% cheaper than buying in packets through a wholesaler!!

Yes, I did have to buy A LOT of gelatin. But I look at it this way, now I don't have to think about buying gelatin again, for a lo-o-o-ong time. (And as I said before, it keeps indefinitely.)

For our home, the real value to buying unflavored gelatin is in transforming something that's become humdrum into something new and different. When using produce that is primarily only what I grow, for a season, there can be a lot of repetition. I don't have the option of just not buying more rhubarb next week, if we're tiring of rhubarb. When next week comes, we still need to eat rhubarb.

As a result, we eat a lot of rhubarb sauce and blackberry-rhubarb sauce in our family. It's made with fruit from our own property and is almost free. The only cost is the sugar. When we tire of the fruit as sauce, I can use a little unflavored gelatin and transform it into a fruit jello, adding a bit of interest to a food that has become boring. And trust me when I tell you that packing a container of fruit gelatin is so much neater in a backpack all day, than a similar container of fruit sauce.

(For how to make fruit jello, using real fruit or fruit juice, here's how I do it.)


Teresa said...

I had been purchasing my gelatin from a spice wholesaler. Last time a package was reduced at my local organic food store. I like you thought " I don't think it expires?"
We don't have the food option for Amazon where I am.
Good for you. When my children were little I used to make 9x13 dishes of juice gelatin all the time. Think it's time to make some again.
Thanks for the suggestion, until you wrote about it I had never met anyone else who made "Jello" this way

Teresa said...

My home computer let me post this and gave me the captcha( pictures to prove I was not a robot:) :)( Hurray:)

Anonymous said...

Hee, hee, Lili--

I never thought that your gelatin purchase was odd at all. After all, home-made gelatin was the reason you and I met! LOL But this is a great post, great analysis, and great potential resource! Thanks so much for taking the time to post it! I may definitely have to look into this.

Glad that the "life" issue is under control. :) I can sure relate (and bet a lot of others here can, too) to being the go-to mental health non-professional for quite a few people! It can be a blessing to be able to help, but grueling, often, too!

Take care-- Sara

PS...Our younger son and I WISH we had your problem of "having" to eat rhubarb every week! We had a plant going here, but lost is over the winter from drought, just as it was getting old enough to really bear properly.

Anne in the kitchen said...

I am one of those weird people who absolutely hate eating Jello, but I use gelatin in pies and panna cotta on a somewhat regular basis. Today I am experimenting making a meltable, grate-able non dairy 'cheese" . If it tastes good enough to use regularly, I can see my gelatin needs increasing dramatically. Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Anne, I don't think not liking jello is weird. I have had the impression that those of us who DO like it seem to be. In our family, there's only two of us who'll touch the stuff; but we do love it. :)

Good luck on the "cheese" experiment! Hope it works out well for you. Would be a wonderful thing to be able to make!


Lili said...

Hi Teresa,
I'm glad you've found a local source for less expensive gelatin. Those tiny packets at the grocery store are expensive.

Isn't that funny -- you know, I'm not sure I know very many people who make jello this way either. My mom used to make aspic regularly, with tomato juice. I hated it as a child, but love it now. And that is what really got me to thinking about making jello from all kinds of juices and fruits, when my kids were little. And I've always loved that this kind of jello actually has nutrients in it, in contrast to the fluorescent packaged stuff.

Lili said...


Lili said...

Hi Sara,
Yes, ha ha! That is how we connected -- over fruit juice gelatin!!! Who else could possibly say that?!

Oh, no! That's such a shame your rhubarb didn't survive. I hope you can find another root division, to try again. If you lived nearby I'd give you a division from mine. My MIL once told me that she grew rhubarb in a large pot, like a half barrel. Would growing in a pot/barrel be better or worse for your area? You might be able to monitor the water in a pot, better than in-ground. I don't know.

Thanks for your kind wishes! Have a great day!

Lili said...

Hi Anne,
Now there's one I'd not thought to try making -- a cheese-like substance. What are you using as a base? What an interesting experiment! Best of luck with it!

Anonymous said...

I'm inspired to use our old boxes of unflavored gelatin!! We hardly make jello except to keep a few boxes on hand in case the grandkids are over. They're not great jello fans either but with whipped cream, they are. I have more time at home nowadays, so I can't wait to revisit unflavored gelatin. Thank you for your recipe and directions.

Also, just FYI, there is (or was) an Amex Offers $15 off $15 at til 9/30. I don't know if the offer is still available. Now I'm itching to order a canister myself lol


Anonymous said...

We don't eat a lot of jello at our house either. My husband spent a lot of time in the hospital when he was a little boy and that's what they serve in hospitals. He hates the stuff. I make it probably once per year and he won't touch it. Why push the issue, right? I have made finger jello for the kids when they were young but those days are gone. I still have a box of the little packets of gelatin in the cupboard and yes, they stay good for a long time. I'll never need to buy it in large quantities!


Lili said...


Thanks for the heads-up on the AMEX w/ Amazon offer. I don't have an AMEX, but this might be helpful to someone else, here!

For your grandkids, YHF, you might want to try grape juice gelatin, with your unflavored packets. It's pretty good. I'm also a big fan of cranberry juice gelatin.

Lili said...

Hi Alice,
now there's an unpleasant association -- jello with hospital stays! I'm sorry he had to endure time in the hospital as a child. Not something any of us want for our children.

Your unflavored gelatin will probably last another decade or more. You might want to use it to make sorbet, or something like that that doesn't have the "jello texture".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Lili. For some reason, they don't like grape jello, mostly the green one which is lime. But I'm sure grape juice tastes a lot better than artificial grape flavoring. I love cranberries, and can't wait to try out the juice in gelatin form. Great suggestions, thanks!!

I wish I had a better system to remember all the good tips and advice from your blog. I think I need to start a journal or notebook of thoughts and ideas as they come to me without worrying where to file it. I'm having "aging" issues, such as memory loss probably from max dose statins, and can't remember from one day to the next.



Laura said...

I don't make much jello but have been using the unflavored stuff to make homemade marshmallows. Yum! Although not really cheaper than store bought. I am also really intrigued by panna cotta, but am not sure I would love the texture. I grew up with a lot of jello salads and while I like some of them very much, I think it was a little bit of overload (always several on the table at any church dinner and at least one when we had company) so I don't really make them myself now. But a cool mandarin orange creamsicle jello sounds really good right now!

Anonymous said...

Hi, YHF--

Sorry about the statins. They've been tough on my mom, too.

Grape juice jello is MUCH better than grape flavored. I don't like grape-flavored anything, though I do like grape juice. So, hard to know if the grandkids would go for it or not (they might IF they like the juice... when I was a kid I liked red grape or white grape better than concord grape, too, so those would be options.)

I agree with Lili, Cranberry makes great gelatin, as does pomegranate (and that's a pretty color, too.) But we've found pretty much any juice (or juice blend) you (or the kids) like to drink, they might like in gelatin. Our favorite is actually apple cider. So light and refreshing.

But we've gone as wild as papaya juice, and had good results. It's thicker, unless you add water or some other kind of juice. (And okay, not thrifty! LOL) But really interesting!

We've also made gummy bears (pretty much extreme jigglers) with plain gelatin and fruit/fruit juice. That was one of my exam-week treats for our younger son when he was in college a couple of years ago. Also pretty tasty! :)


Anonymous said...

In the spring, IF we have some snow/rain over the winter, I'll try to get a new division started again. If it's another dry winter, though, I'll just wait. I'm really worried that they're going to start capriciously limiting our water use, so I can't face committing to too many new perennial plants/trees.

Interesting idea about the half-barrel. Not sure if that would be better or worse here. Things generally do better in the ground because of the low winter temps freezing potted things faster.

But the issue I had with my rhubarb (totally my fault) was that we put the hoses away in the winter, so they won't burst. So, if there's not enough natural moisture, I have to carry buckets. I tore my bicep, and couldn't haul much at a time. I did what I hoped was the minimum to keep it alive, and it wasn't enough.

A half-barrel closer to the spigot might be an idea. I do have a similarly-appropriate site closer, as long as I can keep it fenced from critters. If I DO get another rhubarb, I'll definitely consider starting it there, and maybe in a barrel! Thanks for the idea!


Lili said...

YHF -- I couldn't remember which year we were in, last night at dinner. Oh did my 3 kids ever get a good laugh out of that one. I blame it on terrible sleep, too many nights, weeks and now months in a row.

Another thought on the homemade jello for grandkids, seeing as how they love lime jello -- lemonade jello, made with bottled lemon juice, sugar, water and gelatin, or pink lemonade jello, the lemonade jello, but with a splash of any pink/red juice. I actually have to admit, green jello and green koolaid are my two favorites. It doesn't taste anything like lime, but I've always loved those two.

You may want to get the grandkids in on the making of the jello, too. Or let them choose the flavor. Could be a fun project.

Lili said...

Hi Laura,
I forgot all about marshmallows. I've never made just straight marshmallows, but when my kids were small, I made Easter Peeps for their Easter baskets. And those used gelatin, too. Hmmm, now you've got me thinking!

I get you, on the covered dish suppers at church. Some dishes seemed to be staples. In more recent years, I think I've eaten every possible combination of pasta salad.

Oh, yum that mandarin orange salad sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Great tips, thanks Sara!! Sometimes we buy extra ripe papayas from the vendor that is too soft for eating as a fruit by itself, so those might be good candidates for a gelatin. I totally forgot about using fruits and fruit juices in a gelatin. Also the extreme jigglers sounds like a winner, in fact, I kind of know what you're speaking of...I like the dried up edges of jello the best lol

We seem to eat the same old food items (buy and prepare the same old food the same way), but Lili's blog is expanding our repertoire of foods that we now eat by suggesting different foods and preparation methods (all frugal to boot!!). Last week, my husband prepared pickled ginger, splurging on some young ginger ($3.99/lb) from a farmer's market. He enjoyed the pickles and when it came down to the last few morsels, he was about to throw the entire jar away when I intercepted the pickled juice and soaked some Kang Kong (ungchoi) that I had just blanched. It tasted pretty palatable, and another way to eat the vegetable that grows like weed on our lanai. It was an expensive jar of pickles that he ate, so I felt pleased to have reused his expensive ginger infused pickling juice to flavor another dish. Before Lili's blog, I don't think it would ever occur to me to try that. My husband kept saying, that's crazy just throw it away, but I am glad Lili set the example for us.


TG said...

My mother always made homemade marshmallows at Christmas,, sometimes rolled in toasted coconut , sometimes fine powdered sugar and sometimes chocolate.
Thanks for the great ( and delicious memory):)

Anonymous said...

Sara, sorry to hear about your mom. I've heard other people blame early memory loss on statins too. Just too bad we are the guinea pig generation, and the jury is out whether statins are for better or worse.

Lili, that must have been a riot, darn how kids love to see their usually efficient, almighty parent take a notch down lol, but the years are going by just too fast these days. I love the idea of using bottled lemon juice to make gelatin, because in our less frugal past, we threw out past dated lemon juice because we couldn't use it up fast enough. I'm not a picky eater, as you can tell, and don't mind being the other end of the waste can lol


Lili said...

YHF, if you want to use the extra ripe papayas in gelatin, you'll need to cook it first. Fresh papaya, figs, pineapple,mango, prickly pear and kiwi all contain an enzyme that prevents gelatin from setting. You can gently boil any of the above, except the kiwi, for about 5 minutes, to denature the enzyme, and your jello should set. this is why canned pineapple will work in jello (it's been heated), but not fresh -- that enzyme. Any of the canned juices of these fruit will work, too, as they've been heat-treated, too.

Good job on getting delicious use from the ginger pickling juice!! And just to let you know, there are a lot of things that when I first began doing them, my husband would scoff and say it wasn't worth the time. Well, guess who's on board with those little things, now! Husband!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the you can see I'm posting when I should be sleeping. But that thought that I must cook the papaya entered my head just as I was going to check for your next day post.

Lol...exactly!! My husband is coming around and loving all your frugal suggestions. Guess who made the last batch of bean patties!!


Anonymous said...

Lili and YHF--

When we were kids, my grandmother (VERY thrifty!) always had a whole pile of flavored jello in the little pantry/attic under the roof gable, and we kids often got to pick any two flavors to mix for dinner. Lime was always my favorite (Yup, Lili, doesn't really taste like lime, but I always loved it.) My cousins and I found out pretty early, though, that lime doesn't mix super-well with too many other flavors. And the COLORS it made! :)~~ LOLOL

I'll look for the gummy bears recipe, YHF. It was good, and actually traveled fine the 500 miles in the mail un-chilled to our son. I'm thinking of making some more for a road trip that's upcoming.

PICKLED GINGER? Now THAT sounds DELICIOUS! Good work "Mr. YHF"!!!! I love fresh ginger and crystallized ginger, and have made some delicious ginger preserves in the past. Yummmmy!

Lili, when you make tomato juice gelatin, have you ever seasoned it up with veggies? I have made a chunky gelatin version of gazpacho soup a few times, and it's really heavenly! (And as you say, packs better in a lunchbox than the regular version! )

Take care, everybody!!! Sara :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sara, when you find the gummy bears recipe, please post. I would definitely make that for the grandkids. So funny about the lime jello mixed with another flavor, that's my husband's method of making jello too, using two flavors and some were not the best combination lol

Have a great day!!


Cat said...

Lots of great ideas in this post as well as the comments. I rarely make "jello" but am thinking maybe I should as a way to get more gelatin in my children's diets. And if you end up needing even larger quantities at some point, you might check Azure Standard. I have bought their bulk beef gelatin before, and in the 5 lb bags it comes out to $7.26 per lb at current prices. But it IS a LOT of gelatin. I primarily bought it that way when making our own dog food, to add in for my elderly dog's joints as well as protein.

Anne in the kitchen said...

It has gelatin, nutritional yeast,and raw cashews as it's base, along with some seasonings and tahini. It did not smell very cheesy, but I am waiting until it congeals before I decide if it is something I want to tweak or just forget about

Anne in the kitchen said...

Laura, I had always turned my nose up at panna cotta, since I never liked jello. Bad move on my part since it is delicious, creamy and light. It's a very quick dessert and adapts to so many fruit variations.

Anonymous said...

Please keep us posted, Anne! Hope it turns out. It's always disappointing when you work on something like this and don't end up with something you like/can use. Sara

Lili said...

Hi Teresa,
Oh those marshmallows sound divine! What a wonderful memory to have!

Lili said...

That's good to know about Azure Standard's price on beef gelatin, Cat. Thanks!

Lili said...

Oh yes, freezing and roots when in pots. I believe my in-laws were living in Kentucky when my MIL grew rhubarb in a large pot. Winters were likely milder? Even if a half-barrel near the spigot wouldn't work, possibly, in-ground, right there at the spigot. In our last place, we had a hydrangea bush right at the spigot. That was the most luxurious-looking hydrangea that I've ever seen!

Lili said...

Thanks for the information, Anne. Very interesting, and using ingredients that I would not have thought of using in a mock-cheese.

Belinda said...

There are several videos on YouTube right now with people who are making homemade Velveeta cheese. They are using the gelatin to make it, so I've been looking at it for this reason. :)

Lili said...

HI Belinda,
that's so interesting. I'll have to check those out. WHo would have guessed!

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