If you are wondering how to make mango jelly from scratch from gelatin or agar agar, this recipe could not be easier and you can avoid all the artificial colors, flavors and sugar added to regular jello by using fruit juice!
Make this easy healthy mango jello, grape jello, or other fruit juice jello from scratch from mango juice, grape juice or other fruit juice and fruit, and for a Halloween kid’s party make the shapes of pumpkins (or bats and witch hats when using a purple grape juice jello, or transparent ghosts from sweetened coconut water jello on top of a dark plate!)
This healthy snack of jello is kid friendly (and for the kid in you!). It is simple and all-natural as it has no artificial colors and dyes, nor artificial flavours; its entirely fruit sweetened so the jello has no sugar, unless you want to add a pinch of stevia or sugar for extra flavor. This jello is paleo and a vegan sub of how to use agar agar powder is included below.
*if you are new to gelatin please see notes below, its easy to use as long as you know a couple of things about it (ie: do not bring gelatin to a boil and do not make it with fresh pineapple and other enzymatic or acidic fruit/fruit juice or it may not set properly*. You can also find a vegan sub and Halloween tips below.)
- 2 cups fruit juice such as grape juice, mango juice, peach juice, or 1.5 cups pomegranate juice with 1/2 cup water for red jello etc (or for the most flavor half and half bottled mango juice and mango nectar)*(pulpy juice can work too, just not fresh pineapple juice nor papaya juice*)
- 1 packet unflavoured gelatin (ie. 1 tbsp gelatin),(unflavored gelatin from baking section). (see vegan sub below for well tested agar agar directions)
- Optional add on: natural flavoured stevia drops, I use the raspberry one for when I make frozen berry jello (if using frozen fruit you will want to use fully hot water as the cold fruit will lower the overall water temperature and affect the gelatin).
- Pour gelatin into half cup of juice and let it sit 5 min to bloom
- (if using mango juice which can be trickier* let it bloom in 2tbsp water (rather than juice instead. after it blooms 5 min, microwave the gelatin for a few secs-careful with powerful microwaves and just do a few secs so it doesnt clump. Just warm until dissolved and after blooming and warming gelatin pour it into slightly warm mango juice).
- For regular non acidic juice without mango etc* like grape juice: you can omit the microwave step and Heat 1.5 cups juice on the stove, bring to boil and take off heat and mix with remaining juice. Pour over gelatin, mix well to dissolve and pour into cups. chill and refrigerate until set for a few hours (overnight is ok too). They will keep in the fridge for at least three days.
Tip: I find that jello made with mango nectar (bottled pulpy mango juice) or fresh mango pulp from one ataulfo mango with juice is more lush, but if you want traditional see through jello use only juice rather than pulp. if using only juice a tiny bit of stevia or sugar can enhance the sweetness to compare to the sweetness of traditional jello, but its not crucial and if adding a lot of sugar count this in your volume ratio and increase the gelatin/agar a tiny bit. Ratios for gelatin and agar are given in below notes as are tips for working with fresh mango* which can require a tiny bit more gelatin to set.
Variation: add Fillings: Fresh or frozen or canned fruit (except pineapple*) sliced fruit ex strawberries,peaches, mango, lychee, mixed berries (frozen berries will give a deep red color as their juice melts so they are beautiful to work with even if you are only using water with sugar or part juice and part water or coconut water). (if you use only a bit of fruit no need to change the amount of gelatin but if you use a ton of fruit and sugar count this (especially the sugar) into your volume to set and ratio of gelatin to juice and reduce your juice or increase your gelatin a bit. One tbsp/pouch of gelatin sets 2 cups of liquid, you usually only need a little more gelatin when adding to the volume with chopped fruit which is not being made into jelly. If using a thick pulpy juice such as from real mango keep in mind that one tbsp gelatin sets only 1.5 cups of solids and 2 cups liquids so increase accordingly.)
Play around with colors. red looks stunning as a red juice (such as half and half cranberry or red grape juice with half water and some stevia or sugar/maple syrup. or a splash of red berries in yellow jello like peach jello or mango jello.
Topping: Top with (sweetened) coconut whip and if you want it to look like a ghost add two Chocolate chips or candies as the eyes! They dont have to have a mouth or a candy or the zest of a blood orange can make a smile! You can also make orange infused coconut whip with a few drops of orange oil and orange zest. or a lime coconut whip with lime zest and sugar taste or a pinch of stevia
Or cut the jello into squares and dust them in shredded sweetened coconut or toasted shredded coconut.
*The one main thing to know about Gelatin is that you should never bring it to a boil nor pour boiling water or juice over it or it won’t set. Which is why you can either do a mix of hot water/juice with some cold water/juice as above or you can bloom and microwave it and add it to warmed but not boiling juice. If your microwave is powerful only microwave for a few secs to dissolve (it should not clump up,signs of too powerful a microwave for gelatin) or heat on low heat on the stove without bringing it to boil.
*It is said that mango juice is acidic etc and won’t work with gelatin, but I’ve never had an issue with it, but i avoid Blooming the Gelatin in the mango or orange juice nor warming the gelatin in the juice. the brand of juice I use is called Ceres which is only made up of mango and pear juice and it works. to give it more mango flavor I add some bottled mango nectar. It’s blending in a fresh mango as I did in the above picture of the bowls where I do find that the fresh mango takes longer to set and just a little more gelatin is needed. This is possibly because if it’s active enzymes and proteases.But it’s not impossible like with fresh pineapple juice which is a no-no
*fresh pineapple juice has a bromelain enzyme which destroys gelatins ability to set. Acidic juices like oj can also be tricky for those new to gelatin or those trying to make layered jelly cakes and reheating the gelatin mix.mango juice is also not usually recommended with gelatin but ive used it with agar agar powder with no problem. Kiwi is another fruit you cant use with jello.
Vegan Sub, how to use agar agar:
Agar agar (powder or flakes) (the previous is a Canadian link, American link for agar here) is a flavorless healthy seaweed that has a gelatin effect. find it at health food grocers and Asian markets (in an Asian store it may be called Woon, but if you are new to it get an English version from whole foods etc so you can read the directions!).
Agar agar ratio: agar powder is slightly more powerful than gelatin and agar powder is more concentrated than flakes.
Use 2 tsp agar powder or 2 tbsp agar flakes to set 2 cups of liquid such as a half and half mango juice (from carton) and bottled mango nectar or a fresh mango blended with a little oj or mango juice and sugar or 100% regular carton fruit juice (ex white or red grape juice) or half juice and half water with 4 tbsp of added sugar. This is a safe bet ratio for most pulpy juice and mango nectar/pulp based juice.
( I’ve seen some directions use up to 3 tsp of agar powder used for 2 cups of juice, but normally for most juices without too much added acidic ingredients and for small jello and not large deep bowls of jello there is no need for that much jelling agent.)
how to use agar agar: simply place the agar (2 tbsp agar flakes/2 tsp agar powder), 2 cups of carton or fresh juice or half and half water (or coconut water) and half juice plus a pinch of stevia or sugar (if you add a lot of sugar add a pinch more agar as the ratio must be met) in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer another 5 minutes, stirring well to dissolve clumps. Pour into dessert cups or glass storage containers or custard cups or small glass bowls. Agar sets at room temp, but if you want to accelerate the process, let cool a bit, then place the cups in the fridge.
If you forget or mix up how to use agar or gelatin just follow the simple instructions on the package as agar unlike gelatin has a higher heat tolerance and requirement and can and should be brought to a boil and then simmered for another 4-5 minutes, stirring well to dissolve clumps so you don’t end up with agar lumps. I find agar flakes clouds certain bright colors a bit though, but I made the mango jelly cups with both gelatin and agar and they were both nice.
If you are making this for Halloween you can buy special Halloween jello jiggler molds (there are also Easter egg jelly moulds and other fun kid’s jelly moulds you can look at in the link) or use cookie cutters. You can use cookie cutters to make funny pumpkin shapes (using orange colored juice like mango and varied colored fruit jello) and other shapes like witch hats and bats from purple grape juice jello (or if you use half and half of red grape juice or cranberry juice diluted with water and 4tbsp of sugar you will have red jello). To make shapes more easily if you dont have a special mold, pour jello into large more shallow glass tupperware like a lasagna pan instead of small bowls, let it set longer if need be, then once set, use cookie cutter shapes. Plain (sweetened) coconut water jello would make cool see-through ghost shapes for Halloween although unsweetened coconut water jello isn’t super tasty on its own so add sugar or mix it with juice.
For green jello use a half and half combo of one cup each green apple juice and water with green food coloring and a pinch of stevia plus some frozen fruit filling or approx 3 3/4 tbsp of sugar or maple syrup, as its diluted. You can also consider using white grape juice or a half and half of the juice or with plain water instead of apple juice with green food coloring, sugar and fruit. Alternatively Passionfruit and other juices, as well as lime zest have bright colors too. Filling the jello with kiwi, lime zest or perhaps mint makes it greener, though i havent tested if fresh kiwi juice wont set as a jelly as it is acidic (and for the same reason its best not to use a ton of lime or lemon juice).
I remember as a kid when someone made a Mystery bowl that us kids were touching with peeled grapes to represent “eyeballs” lol and wet noodles as “brains”. Haha kids have fun with those things, so have fun with it!
If you don’t have cutters doing different colored jello cups with 2-3 different juices and colorful fruit is also nice.
I haven’t tried yet making coconut water jello infused with a pandan leaf first or coconut water or fruit juice jello with tons of whole fruit/berry packed in, but its always an option, coconut water does need sugar or stevia as plain coconut water jello is disappointingly plain. And one day I plan to make a Mojito style jello, could be a fun jello shot idea for the adults, especially since it would be cute and convenient for a party if you carved out lime peels as bowls to set the jello in (propped up) and once set, slice into lime wedges for lime wedges filled with jello ( or other fruity jello shots).
If you like this recipe and share it tag me on instagram @dairyfreeindulgencerecipes #dairyfreeindulgencerecipes (i know the name is long but dairyfreeindulgence was already taken on insta!) , I’d love to see your Halloween shapes and colors and your versions of my recipe 🙂