Making Sweet Mandarin Orange Jello with the Kids

A few day ago, it was one of those days that I didn't really have a plan for the kids. We've been so busy that I actually liked not having a plan and doing whatever at home with the kids all day. 

I asked the kids what they wanted to do. Their suggestions were appreciated but also rejected. I was in the mood for more calm activities than what they had in their minds. My son didn't want to color, play with puzzles or study Japanese letters. I asked him if he wanted to squeeeeeze some juice out of the oranges with his hands, and he agreed.

At this point, I still hadn't made up my mind about what to make with the orange juice. I didn't want to waste the skins either and made some marmalade to be used for many delicious things later. I used to watch my grandma made candied orange skins or marmalade all the time. We had lots of kinds of oranges around the house since they were grown locally in southern Japan, like Satsuma. Satuma is the old name of Kagoshima where I'm from. My grandma is one of my inspirational cooks. She never wasted anything and preserved lots of fruits, vegetables and seafood. She ate what was available aka. locally grown and harvested things. Anyway, these mandarin skins were a little too thin for candies though....

I bought some old jello containers at a flea market a while ago that I haven't really used yet. Easy enough and a fun thing to do with the kids - we were going to make JELLO!

 I used agar agar since that's what I happened to have in the house. I tasted the juice and it was really sweet. I was getting into a good rhythm here and decided to take the jello to the next level by making three layers. The top is the orange juice we squeezed, the middle is with strawberry - we used the jam I made last week, and the bottom is with milk. I wanted to use coconut milk, but my son didn't want me to do.  He says he doesn't like coconut. Well, hope he'll pass this inconvenient phase for my sake.


I quickly realized that making three layered jello was slightly more challenging that I thought. The timing to pour layers during the cooling process is tricky. I left the orange/first layer too long before I poured the  strawberry/second layer, so they didn't stick with each other as you can see in the photo above. I also made the first orange layer a little too hard. On the second attempt, their layers were done properly.

That's it. A pretty good laid back day with the kids and jello at home. 

Jello Recipe: 2 cups of jello

2 cups of mandarin orange juice squeezed
12 gm of agar agar or 2 packs of gelaton

Mix juice and agar agar in a pan. Bring it to boil until agar agar is completely melted. Pour the juice into jello containers and chill it in the fridge until they are firm. That is it!

Marmalade Recipe: 2-3 jars

Cut all the left over skins into 3mm thin slices. Add half the amount of the sugar of the orange skins and 2 tsp of lemon juice in a pan and heat it until it's reduced to half for 30-60 minutes.  



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