Grape juice jigglers are a healthy treat your children will love, made with vegetarian gelatin and naturally sweet grape juice.
When my girls were growing up, I was a baking-from-scratch-type mom, but the two exceptions to that were boxed chewy brownie mix and Jello®. I guess I have to include Jello® pudding in that category as well. Instant pudding was sooo easy that my girls could make it by themselves from when they were very little. Cold milk, whisk in the powder. Done! How did it thicken? It was like a creamy sweet miracle. I had to help with brownies and Jello® because of the hot oven and the boiling water though.
I don’t know who the genius behind jigglers was but I put him or her right up there with the person who first thought of lather, rinse, repeat on shampoo bottle labels. After all, jigglers get you to use two boxes of that powdered, sweetened gelatin to make the same size pan and it’s probably eaten just as quickly. Or maybe even more quickly since jigglers of all flavors are kid favorites. A cold jiggly treat you can eat with your hands? Yes, please!
A little research reveals that jigglers were first touted in a cookbook given away by the makers of Jello-O® in the 1930s. The recipe was rediscovered in the ’70s when, as sales declined, the company looked for ways to reinvigorate the market for their jiggly product, thumbing through their old cookbooks for inspiration. And another generation of jiggler lovers was born. Count me and my girls in that number.
I know a lot of moms try to limit their children’s intake of sugar with no nutritional value and I did too. Soft drinks and sugar-full Jell-O® were a special treat on weekends. I was not a fan of sugar-free versions because sugar seemed less harmful than the chemicals that made up the unnatural sweeteners. And what about all the coloring additives? Let’s not even go there. So what’s a mom to do? Make grape juice jigglers from pure, naturally colored, naturally sweetened grape juice! Or frankly, any juice of your choice, as long as it is not very acidic, which inhibits the gelatin from firming up.
Most gelatin powders are still made from animal products, but vegan/vegetarian friendly gelatin is now widely available as well. Just read the labels if that is a concern for you. I will tell you that if you use the non-animal gelatin, you need just a bit more than usual to get your juice to set.
Grape Juice Jigglers
- 4 1/4 cups grape juice
- 4 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder
- Sprinkle the vegetarian gelatin powder over the grape juice in medium-sized pot. Stir thoroughly until the powder is completely dissolved and the liquid appears to thicken just a little.
- Put the pot on the stove and, over a medium flame, heat till just boiling. (About 200°F or 93°C by my candy thermometer.) Tiny bubbles will start appearing.
- Pour the hot liquid into a heatproof rectangular casserole dish about 9x13 in or 23x33cm.
- Leave to cool then cover with cling film and chill for at least 2 hours or until firm.
- Cut into squares to serve.
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