Part of being a teacher is the acknowledgement that you can't go out to get lunch every day. I know that a lot of schools have been trying to improve their food, but even if they were serving the best food ever, I still would pack a lunch. When you only get a 26 minute break, the idea of walking all the way down to the lunch room and fighting my way through a line to get some chow is less than appealing.
I often need to get to work by 6:10 in the morning so that I can use the copy machine without waiting, and that means that I need quick packing lunches. Yogurt is a regular star as are those small bags of chips... and I've always been a fan of fruit cups with gelatin.
Until recently, I'd made my own using the artificially flavored stuff at the store. I started to find, however, that I'm not a fan of the acrid after taste that the artificial stuff tends to have. And it somehow felt wrong to be putting home canned pears into such overwhelmingly sweet, fake flavor. So, I decided to see how much trouble it would be to use unflavored gelatin and fruit juice... the good news? It's absolutely no trouble at all!
The only extra steps are the requirement to soften the gelatin in some cool liquid before mixing and making sure you have an appropriate fruit juice on hand. While you can use whatever juice you want, I wanted to go for a 100% juice variety. I really love cherries, so I purchased sweet cherry juice. There are all kinds of juice blends out there. Experiment! Try all kinds. The good news is that the sky is the limit.
To soften the gelatin, pour 1/4 cup of your still cool juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let it sit until the gelatin is absorbed and swells up.
As I was taking pictures, I help the bowl up so that some light was coming through. I got so intrigued by the shapes and colors! The geologist in me was screaming, "Look at the lava!"
Heat the juice to almost boiling. To keep a nice fresh flavor, try not to overheat the juice. Meanwhile, fill some plastic containers with the fruit of your choice. I like to use diced peaches or pears. These containers are 4 ounces each and work perfectly.
When the juice is heated, add the softened gelatin and any sugar or other flavorings you want to add. Swirl the contents in each slightly after they are filled to evenly distribute the fruit. Put on their covers and place in the refrigerator to firm up.
A single batch makes six containers, if you use the 4 ounce size. Just enough for one per day plus an extra for good measure.
Gelatin Fruit Cups
Yield: 6 - 4 oz. containers
1 packet (or 1/4 oz. or 2 1/2 tsp) unflavored gelatin such as Knox
2 cups fruit juice of your choice
1 - 16 oz jar or can of fruit (such as diced peaches or pears)
sugar, as needed, up to 1/4 cup (if you add too much sugar, you will need to add more gelatin)
Pour 1/4 cup of the still cool fruit juice into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let it soften and swell while the remainder of the juice heats. Heat the rest of the juice until it is almost boiling. For the freshest taste, try not to overheat.
Add the softened gelatin and any needed sugar to the hot juice. Stir until all particles of gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Prepare the plastic containers by evenly dividing the drained fruit from one 16 ounce can between them. Pour the hot juice evenly between the containers. Swirl gently to evenly distribute the fruit. Cover and refrigerate. Requires at least 3-4 hours to full chill and set.