Today I’m sharing a recipe that I’ve been eating at Thanksgiving dinners for so, so, many years. My grandma made this, my mom made this, and now I often make it too.
I guess that’s why I’m calling this an “old school” recipe because it’s been in my family for three generations . . . and because it’s a jello salad. I’ve noticed that those humble jello salads don’t have the same popularity as they used to. In fact while chatting with my adult daughter the other day the subject of jello came up and after some thought she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever bought jello”.
But then she changed her mind and said, “Oh wait, maybe I bought some in college once to make jello shots.”
And that’s how it is for jello these days. That’s quite a contrast to some of the old cookbooks I sorted through that belonged to my mother, many of which were little pamphlets, and some of which dated all the way back to the 1930’s and 1940’s (her mother’s), and all of which had lots of recipes and ideas for using jello. I think they considered it quite a wonderful modern convenience back then!
I find I don’t use jello as much as I did 30 years ago either. Most of the time I try to keep my focus on more natural ingredients now.
BUT, once in awhile some of those reliable and trusty recipes with jello still come in handy for holidays or potlucks as they usually travel well and are flavors that work for all ages.
And that’s why when Thanksgiving rolls around I still like to make this cranberry jello salad. It gives us the cranberry flavors associated with this fall holiday without having to resort to those rather odd wiggly slices of jellied cranberry from the can.
How To Make Cranberry Jello Salad
This salad starts with 3 oz package of raspberry jello. Stirred into the jello are a can of crushed pineapple, some ground cranberries, and ground orange slices. A bit more sugar is added to offset the tartness of the cranberries.
The original (really old school) recipe had you grinding your cranberries and orange in a meat grinder, and yes, that’s just what my mom did! She had this metal contraption that attached to the edge of the table and she would grind up those cranberries and the orange slices.
I’m thankful for my food processor that now handles this step in a flash. 🙂
I’ve also changed the amount of sugar added to this recipe. The original version added another whole cup of sugar, but I’ve found much less is needed. I now add just 1/2 cup.
I always make this the night before too as it takes about 8 to 10 hours for this salad to fully gel, AND I make it directly in the bowl it will be served in.
So if you’re looking for a different way to serve up the cranberries this fall, this somewhat sweeter version might be just what you’re looking for. It’s stood the test of time in our family for over 50 years!
Here’s how to do it:
Cranberry Jello Salad
- 3 oz pkg Raspberry Jello
- 1 cup Hot Water
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 3/4 cup Cold Water
- 1 8 oz can Crushed Pineapple
- 1 cup Fresh Cranberries
- 1 small Clementine or Mandarin Orange (or 1/2 a regular size orange)
- Empty the package of jello into a bowl. (This can be made directly in the bowl you wish to serve the jello in).
- Add the cup of hot water and stir to dissolve the jello.
- Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add the 3/4 cup of cold water and stir.
- Add in the can of undrained crushed pineapple.
- Place the cranberries in a food processor. Peel the orange and add the orange sections to the food processor too. (If you don't have a small clementine or manadarin orange, just use 1/2 of a regular size orange). Process for about 30 seconds to grind the fruit.
- Add the ground cranberries and oranges to the jello mixture and stir.
- Place the jello mixture in the refrigerator to gel. This will take about 8 to 10 hours.