Pro-biotic Jell-O, anyone? + Protease discussion

The Background

I found some packages of Jell-O lying around. Gelatin is an incredible collagen-based nutrient for the body regarding tissue repair. Have you ever made a bone broth, and put it in the fridge, only to find that much of it had solidified into a gel (and it liquifies again when heated)? That’s because in making bone broths, we use heats and acids (like vinegars) to dissolve or extract nutrients from the bones and connective tissues. Some think that dissolved gelatin contributes significantly to the health benefits of bone broth. I definitely find it a more palatable way to eat connective tissues!

The Experiment

i’m doing a mesophillic SCOBY (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast) ferment of jell-o to add flavor, nutrition and reduce the finished sugar content, with added fruit (raspberries and chopped whole apple) and cinnamon (which gets slimy when hydrated, so a good option for something like gelatin/pectin). will be interesting to see how well the bacteria and yeast take to the collagen-based medium and whether i can still finish setting the gelatin after fermentation!

Troubleshooting

if this doesn’t work, i’ll use pure gelatin next time (without any of the chemical flavors, conditioners and preservatives), peel the apple and boil the apple peels in the mix water or tea (kombucha jell-o?) to add pectin and aid in the setting of the gelatin.

I also found an interesting tip on the Jell-O package: don’t add fresh or frozen pineapple, figs, ginger root, kiwi, papaya or guava because they’ll prevent the gelatin from setting. Also, not listed b/c it’s not yet commercialized, pawpaw will do the same thing. Kiwi, figs and pawpaw are all temperate climate fruits.

The above fruits contain a high density of proteases — enzymes that help digest proteins. So consider such fruits a useful addition to any protein-heavy meal or ingredient to enhance digestibility. For example, marinate or soak meats or grains in pineapple juice before cooking.  If you reduce the pineapple juice over the stove at a heat above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll likely denature and de-activate the enzymes.  Which is why it’s OK to add cooked fig or kiwi sauce to a Jell-O concoction!

On the flip-side, proteins are often used to enhance texture in or thicken foods (think: gluten, whey and egg whites for baked goods).  So we have a dilemma:  more nutritionally-available (and safer) the foods typically have a broken down protein structure, but contribute less to the “sharp” texture of the finished meal.   In this case, no Jell-o jigglers.  But the liquid version will still taste good and I suspect provide a similar nutrition.  I used to drink — and love — “hot Jell-o” as a kid…mmm…memories!

Updates

This experiement was a smashing success.  Recommended for anyone who enjoys fizzy things and jell-o.  I ate the first batch before it got very bubbly (fruit and jello-o and spices).  In the second batch, I substituted rooibos and ginger tea for the boiling water, and subbed 2 cups of fresh kombucha for the cool water.   In the future, I’ll be making this from scratch with sweet tea and finished kombucha and fresh fruit.

latest concoction: a spiced strawberry apple jell-o with homemade apple cider vinegar and a chamomile-rooibos sweet tea. Next concoction will address the banana-carob connection.  The fruit seems to ferment more readily than the sweetened gelatin.

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