I can never forget the time I ate my first bowl of jell-o. I was around 4 years old, quietly sitting in the classroom of my preschool, playing house with my favourite Barbie doll. It was snack time and my teacher brought each of us a small plastic bowl filled to the brim with a pretty, pink, wiggly and fruity smelling concoction. I had no clue what it was, but from the looks of it I knew I would like it! I took my first spoonful of the mysterious snack and I was in love! It tasted so sweet, like strawberries, and the texture was very squishy and slimy.
(Photo Credit: http://queen-spade.deviantart.com/art/JELL-O-275537584)
I was so excited to go home and ask my mummy to make more of the delicious grub because I was convinced it was my new favourite snack. She entertained my newly found obsession, so while we were preparing it in the kitchen, I became more and more fascinated with how jell-o was formed. I now know that the consistency of jell-o can be attributed to a protein called gelatin.
I recently found an article claiming that when preparing jell-o, fresh fruits should not be used as they are unable to set the jell-o mold. This is because fresh fruits contain proteolytic enzymes also known as proteases. Proteases are a group of enzymes whose function is to break down protein. They do this by hydrolyzing the peptide bonds that connect the amino acids together in the polypeptide chain that forms proteins.
Gelatin is derived from collagen which is a protein found in animals especially in connective tissue. When preparing jell-o, the gelatin is heated and mixed with water and the substance naturally gels. The proteases such as those found in fruits such as pineapples, peaches and pears, break down the collagen in the fruit thus preventing it from successfully gelling.
However, Mike Adams, the author of the article, suggested that canned fruits can be used instead or fresh fruits since their proteolytic enzymes have already been destroyed by heat. This makes gelling possible and your yummy jell-o can be made!
Now that I’m older, jell-o doesn’t interest as much, I’ve moved on to bigger and better deserts (Häagen-Dazs :p) but if you’re still obsessing over this delight, I must urge you to take it in small quantities as too much jell-o can negatively affect your health. Try to substitute peach jell-o with maybe a real fruit, like a real peach!
Resist the tempatation! 😀
Adams, Mike. 2012. “Weird food fact: Jell-O molds cannot be made with many fresh fruits, because they contain enzymes that eat away the gelatin”. Accessed March 19, 2013. http://www.naturalnews.com/034872_Jell-O_fresh_fruit_enzymes.html