Sadly, no pictures of the finished products of these vintage recipes. I think that reading them should present enough of a visual image for most of you. That, and I have never in my life enjoyed jello salad, especially the sort made before it was called Jello.
So, what is gelatin? According to the wikipedia site it is : “Gelatin is a mixture of peptides and proteins produced by partial hydrolosis of collagen extracted from the skin, boiled crushed horn, hoof and bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, chickens, pigs and horses. Food-grade gelatin is produced mainly from two raw materials, beef skin and pig hide. Photographic and pharma grades of gelatin are generally made from beef bones, although some beef bone gelatin is used by the food industry. Gelatin is an animal protein unlike many other gelling agents used by the food industry.” YUM!
Back in the days before purified gelatin was available in the stores, you got to make your own by boiling a calves foot. Thus, the “calves foot jelly” really is just a jello salad made from the gelatin extracted from the foot of a calf. Doesn’t that sound delicious?
Now, to be fair, sensibilities back in the day were a bit different than now. Most people weren’t as far removed from their food as we currently are (save for the few farm kids, which I am proud to say I am a member of). Even if you did grow up on a farm and raise the calves from babies that you were later to eat at dinner like I did, we still never boiled a foot to make desert. And regardless, it was never the source of the gelatin that made it unpalatable for me – it was the texture. There are some instances where it is fine but most of the time I just can’t do it. My brother however – he loves the nasty stuff. And my mother, as most moms of the 70’s and 80’s did – she seemed to make a lot of it. It was an easy way to get fruit into the meal I think and was easy for pot lucks.
Now, I do have to say that my mom has a fabulous cranberry jello salad that I WILL eat. That recipe will come on another day when I have time to make it.
For now, you get two very romantic gelatin recipes taken from the 1948 owners manual of the Westinghouse Refrigerator. I found my copy of this little cookbook at a local antique store and knew it had to be a part of my tiny little collection. And the romantic recipes? Yesterday I was married 8 years to my amazing husband. I think it was gift enough that I didn’t make either recipe for him!
And as an aside… most fruit used in jello recipes are canned or cooked first. Fruit like pineapple, kiwi, figs and papaya all have proteases in them that chemically cut the gelatin resulting in a jello that never sets which is why it is important to used canned or cook the fruit before making the salad. Bananas are lacking in these proteases so those are usually used fresh in salads. Just in case your favorite salad, like that of the greatly esteemed Mr. Cosby, is boiled calves foot jelly.
2 c crushed pineapple 2 T lemon juice
1/2 c sugar 2 T cherry juice
1 1/2 T granulated gelatin 6 ounces cream cheese
1/4 c cold water 1/2 pint whipping cream
Heat pineapple with sugar, add gelatin which has been softened in 1/4 cup cold water. Stir until melted. Add lemon and cherry juice, cool. Mash cream cheese, add cherries which have been cut fine, mix with pineapple, adding a small amount of pineapple mixture to cheese at a time. Chill until slightly thickened. Whip cream and blend with pineapple mixture. Mold and chill. This makes 12 small servings.
Valentine Vitamin Salad
1 package strawberry gelatin 1/2 c shredded carrot
1 c hot water 1/2 c celery, sliced fine
1/4 t salt 2 ripe bananas
3/4 c ice cubes and water 2 T lemon juice
1/2 c pineapple
Dissolve gelatin in hot water and add cold water to cool. Shred carrots, slice celery, and cut bananas into cubes. Sprinkle lemon over the bananas. Add the salt to the hot gelatin. When cool, and it begins to thicken, add the vegetables. Mold in decorative molds and serve with mayonnaise on shredded lettuce, garnished with water cress. Serves 6.