A refreshing jelly dessert for the summer: Orange Jelly or Mikan Jelly (みかんゼリー). This crowd-pleasing treat makes a perfect dessert to serve at your backyard parties.
This past summer when we were in Japan, my children went crazy for various Japanese jelly. In Japan’s hot and humid summer, we were always craving for some cold treats. Besides ice cream and shaved ice, we often picked up some fruit jelly (フルーツゼリー) when we shop at supermarkets or convenience stores.
My daughter’s all-time favorite was this Mikan Jelly (みかんゼリー). Mikan is the Japanese word for a type of orange similar to clementine, tangerine, or mandarin orange.
In winter months when fresh Mikan are in season, she would easily inhale 10 of them in one sitting if she’s not being watched. This simple orange jelly was something she totally enjoyed eating this summer.
Ever since we came back to the U.S., she kept saying how much she misses her jelly and this went on like 2 months, non stop! Our house was under renovation and we didn’t have a kitchen, so I kept procrastinating by saying later, later, later…
Homemade Orange Jelly
The other day, when she was in school, I decided to pick up a can of mandarin oranges and made this jelly to surprise her. It’s really easy to make, and as a mom, I like that I can control the amount of sugar that goes into the jelly.
When we came back from school and it was snack time, I brought these orange jelly in front of her, and she had this huge smile on her face and squealed. This is why I cook; her smile made my day 1000 times better.
Use Gelatin Sheet instead of Gelatin Powder for Orange Jelly
I kind of forgot how awful gelatin powder smelled when I decided to make this jelly with gelatin powder. I’m not a vegetarian/vegan, but the smell was so awful that it completely turned me off to use gelatin powder. For the first batch that I tested, I actually throw them away because I couldn’t stand the smell. I checked for other’s feedback for gelatin powder on the internet and learned that gelatin sheet (or gelatin leaf) has much less smell. To improve this recipe, I purchased this German brand of gelatin sheet from Amazon.
The gelatin sheets are very thin and almost translucent. Each sheet is 2.5 gram and there are 20 sheets in the package.
I smelled the sheet hesitantly because of the pungent issue with gelatin powder. What a surprise! The gelatin sheets do not smell at all. These gelatin sheets were super pleasant to work with, and if you are reluctant to make jelly because of the gelatin powder smell, definitely try the gelatin sheets!
Plus, gelatin sheets result in a clearer, more transparent final product than gelatin powder. So what’s not to love when you basically have a clearer gelatin with a neutral flavor!
- 2 gelatin sheet(s)/powder (2 sheets are equivalanet to 5 g gelatin powder)
- 3 Tbsp hot water
- 1 can mandarin oranges (15 oz, 425 g; certain tropical fruits such as pineapples and kiwis have an enzyme that can prevent gelatin from setting; therefore, they need to be heated through completely, which will destroy the enzyme.)
- ¾ cup syrup from the mandarin oranges can (¾ cup + 4 tsp to be precise)
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- Gather all the ingredients.
- If you are using gelatin sheets, cut them into thin ½ inch (1.3 cm) strips. Put gelatin (powder/sheets) in a bowl and pour 3 Tbsp hot water. If you are using gelatin sheets, we’ll need to melt the gelatin with a double boiler (Step 3). Please make sure to use a heat resistant bowl that is larger than the opening of the saucepan.
- Drain the mandarin oranges into a sieve over a bowl or measuring cup. There should be 200 ml (¾ cup + 4 tsp) of syrup. Save the syrup and transfer the oranges to a plate.
- In a small saucepan, bring roughly ½ cup of water to simmer and place the bowl of gelatin mixture over the saucepan. The steam will immediately warm up the glass bowl and start dissolving the gelatin.
- When the gelatin has completely melted, add 3 Tbsp (40 g) sugar and whisk until all the sugar has been dissolved.
- Mix the gelatin mixture with the 200 ml (¾ cup + 4 tsp) syrup.
- Place the mandarin oranges in the serving glasses. Then pour the gelatin mixture over it. When it has cooled to room temperature, store in the refrigerator until it sets, about several hours. Garnish with mint and enjoy!
- 1 sheet gelatin = 2-3 g powdered gelatin, or approx 1 tsp
- 3 ½ sheets = approx 1 envelope Knox gelatin
- 4 sheets = approx 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin
- 1 tsp gelatin powder = ½ tsp kanten powder
- 1 tsp gelatin powder = 1 tsp agar powder