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Posted on Mar 23, 2007 | 40 comments

Fruit cup jello jigglers in everyday containers

Fruit cup jello jigglers in everyday containers

In a variation on the homemade juice gelatin cups I made earlier, you can also put fruit into these for a nice visual touch (and better nutrition). These are thicker than regular jello, more like jigglers, so they hold up at room temperature for several hours in a packed lunch. I used 100% fruit juice (apple, pear and passion fruit) and Knox unflavored gelatin (1.25 cups juice or a little less to one envelope of gelatin for a firm but not hard texture), put pieces of fruit in the cups in the fridge container first, then filled with the gelatin liquid. Keep a stash of these in your refrigerator to grab and throw into a lunch in the morning when you’re short on time.

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I also wanted to show that you don’t have to have special Japanese food cups to make these: the clear plastic containers are 1oz and 2oz. plastic “souffle cups” with lids that I picked up at Smart & Final (125 cups for about $2.25, 125 lids for about $1.75). I’ve also seen the same sort of thing from the Solo brand at kitchen or party supply stores. The white round plastic container with mango in it is actually a 1 oz container that held a single serving of cream cheese (from CostCo). You could also use cupcake liners (foil or coated paper) — be creative.

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The condiment cups with lids can either be thrown away or washed and reused, depending upon your dedication to waste-free lunches. A variation on gelatin would be to make mini-flans (or puddings), and pack them in these cups with lids and a cold gel pack (like the Japanese miniature pudding cups from Kiku that make an appearance in so many bentos).

Caution: Don’t add fresh or frozen pineapple, kiwi, papaya, guava, figs, or ginger root to these or the gelatin won’t set up properly.

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  1. Pomegranate in a ‘red’-flavoured gelatin is the bomb. :) My mother used to make it for me. POM juice would make an interesting gelatin-snack, too!

  2. I love these! I used to make something similar when I was a kid (well, relatively a kid, I was in high school). I’d add mangoes and peaches to gelatin desserts. I also used to make something called cathedral’s windows where I’d put multicolored gelatin squares in a creamy white gelatin base. So pretty when you turned it over! Never tried making them so small though. Maybe next time I make a mad batch of mango pudding, I’ll use my widdle bento cups like you do :D

  3. I might be inclined to use an agar-based gel for transportable lunch. It is stable at higher temperatures, like the fierce Southern California July. The only thing with which it does not seem to mix well is alcholol; I tried to make “jello shots” and they did not set at all. Lower concentrations of alcohol as a “dressing” seems to be OK, like the aforementioned July when I poured plum wine over clear sparkling agar cubes as a refresher. [You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw them do the same on Iron Chef the next week!]

  4. I love to add fruit to my jell-O. What a great tip, I’ll be adding this to my bento in the near future. I just have to remember to make thicker gelatine, as I tend to get it to collapse at room temperature.

  5. do you boil the fruit before you put it in there or can you toss it in there raw?
    it’s a good idea for dessert :) there is always room for jello

  6. Then there’s the easy method in this case: I look at the bottom of the box and tell you what it says. ;-) The bottom tier is 250ml, the top tier is 330ml, for a total of 580ml (about right for an adult woman of “average” height for a Japanese).

  7. Pomegranate seeds in gelatin sound beautiful! I’ve got some POM juice in the fridge — maybe we’ll try that when we finish up these jello cups. Thanks!

  8. Sounds fun! Everyone to the kitchen for mad scientist experiments!

  9. I didn’t boil the fruit, but I poured the liquid into the cups with fruit while it was still very hot. I’ve also seen these made with canned fruit, like mandarin orange segments, peaches, fruit cocktail, etc.

  10. Yes, regular jello is no good for room temperature lunches — but the thicker “jigglers” work just fine.

  11. Thanks for the interesting information, selenesue! I haven’t worked much with agar, I’ll have to pull it out of the pantry and experiment with it. That’d be a good vegetarian/vegan option for these as well.

  12. Isn’t it just fresh pineapple that’s the problem? I seem to recall canned in the jello of my yoot.

    But yeah, jello made with knox and real fruit juice is mighty tasty. and the “jiggler” tip is great!

    Let us know how the pom sets up – that would be pretty!

  13. D’oh! Right, it’s fresh or frozen that’s a problem — canned is okay. I edited the post — thanks.

  14. Hi Biggie,

    I made jello cups, too :) My kids love mashed strawberries with yogurt, so I add honey, smashed strawberries and plain yogurt to knox jello mixture. Cathedral Windows sounds really cute, I will definitely make it next time!!

  15. Ooh, sounds delicious, Yumi!

  16. You know, there’s a huge Filipino market just south of here that I’ve been wanting to explore. Perfect reason!

  17. I was told that certain acidic fruit juices would mean that the gelatin wouldn’t set, and conversely that canned fruit (like pineapple and others that you mentioned) would be okay, since they had been washed) would be okay. Do you have any experience with these?

    I bought a box of Knox gelatin and some pomegranate-cherry juice for experimentation this week, it’s the first time I’ll have made homemade jello!

  18. My understanding syncs up with yours — that the fresh or frozen versions of the fruits listed above will interfere with the gelatin setting, and that canned versions are okay.

    Very curious about your pomegranate-cherry juice jello; let us know how it turns out!

  19. I just watched Alton Brown’s Good Eats show about pomegranate from a couple of weeks ago, and he totally did pomegranate seeds in pomegranate jello! Link here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_36167,00.html?rsrc=search

  20. HA! Speak of the Alton and he shall appear! :D

  21. I just got around to making the jello tonight, and it appears to have been a huge success! Four cups of juice made about 35 little foil cups of jello, 15 of which had canned fruit (a mixed can of pears, peaches, grapes and cherries) and 20 of which were plain.

    I’m so glad you posted about making jello, this is a great thing for me to keep aside for bento!

  22. Two cups of juice heated in a pan and simmered for 5 minutes with 2 to 3 Tablesppons of agar agar flakes (sugar optional) makes a firmish jelly. Firm enough to use in a mold. Not quite as rubbery a texture as jello jigglers. You have to handle it with a bit more care when taking out of intricate molds.
    Agar agar sets at room temperature, no need to set up in the fridge. The only caution is, do not stir or otherwise disturb the mixture once it had begun to cool, or it will be more like jam, and not hold it’s shape.
    I made great blueberry juice x’s with an ice cube mold from Ikea.

  23. If you use agar-agar (available in Japanese and other Asian food stores – either in powder form or what looks like lacy plastic colored sticks), you can also use such fruits as pineapple and kiwi and the jello will set! Agar (also known as kanten) is seaweed based so it’s a perfect vegetarian substitute for jello or gelatin based desserts.

  24. Thanks for the recipe! My friend yumimb made homemade jello with Japanese agar-agar for the kids the other week (with freshly squeezed orange juice and chopped strawberries, photo below) — it tasted great and didn’t have to be as rubbery as the gelatin-based jigglers to be stable at room temperature. She also used repurposed, washed applesauce cups to hold the jello — another good idea.

    Vegetarian juice jello cups with agar-agar

  25. I was wondering…how long did these gelatin cups last in the fridge? I live alone, so making a stock doesn’t sound convenient if they last just few days :/

  26. The plain ones and ones made with canned fruit lasted practically forever. The ones made with fresh fruit got funky after a few days, probably because I put the fruit in when the liquid was still hot. If you were to let the gelatin cool partway before stirring in the fruit, it’d last longer.

  27. Oh, thank you so much =D
    Here in Italy we don’t eat normally gelatin as dessert, but once I tried one with strawberry inside and I found it refreshing and not at all bad, so I think that I’ll start making gelatin more often ;)

    Thanks for the advice, your blog is wonderful and full of useful tips!

  28. I’ve only just discovered your site so I’m a little late to the Jello Party but I have a question. I must admit, I’ve never made jello or used gelatin. Can you give a real idiots version of how you do these. I read the 1.25 cups juice to 1 knox envelope, do you still split with some cold and some heated juice like the packet recipe? Do you use sugar?

  29. I LOVE YOUR RECIPES … I HAVE A WEIGHT PROBLEM, AND OTHER PROBLEMS, AND I WOULD APPRECIATE SOME KNOX GELATIN RECIPES USING “ONLY” SUGAR FREE KNOX GELATIN WITH FRESH FRUIT, LIKE CANNED PINEAPPLE, BANANAS, CRUSHED NUTS OR WHAT EVER .. I NEED YOUR HELP, AND WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE HEARING FROM YOU, I NEED A RECIPE FOR TWO PEOPLE ….

    THANK YOU MOST SINCERELY,
    DAWN GOLDMAN

  30. @35 from Dawn Goldman: I’m sorry Dawn, but I don’t use the flavored sugar-free gelatins, just unflavored Knox gelatin and 100% fruit juice — I think it’s better for my son. Good luck to you!

  31. I made a huge stash of these recently. They turned out great! I have to agree that canned fruit will last longer in the fridge. I used some fresh blueberries and within 2 days they were all moldy. Ooops! The gelatin I made with canned diced peaches I used are still good. Thanks Biggie! Such great ideas!

  32. @37 from Hope: Agreed on the canned fruit. Coincidentally, I made a big batch of these (without fruit) on Friday using raspberry and blueberry juice that Bug didn’t like for some reason. But turn them into juice jello cups and he eats them up!

  33. Hi, I was wondering what the exact recipe is. I couldn’t find the individual knox unflavored gelatine packets but I found a huge can of knox unflavored gelatine, but the recipe it gives me yields 4 quarts!! Way too much jello.

  34. Oops! Just noticed that you put the recipe in an answer. How much gelatine would you estimate one packet has? A teaspoon, a tablespoon or two?

  35. I’m pretty sure that a packet of knox is about 1.5 tsp of gelatin.

  36. Hi! I’m a big follower of your blog, especially the reicpes. I’ve started packing my own bentos and now because of this site whenever my mom asks me what I want when she goes food shopping, I can whip up an easy, healthy list in a snap! Thanks!

  37. I read this over, and didn’t see it mentioned, can you freeze these? most fruit freeze pretty well, and in other posts it says frozen jellies are good fillers/ice packs.

    i just wonder if the fruit/jelly mix might have some weird reaction.

  38. i just made these today. they are so fun!

  39. Aloha i just wondering what is the price for those gelatin cups.
    Allan

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