Ribbon Jello

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Every year at Christmas my mom makes a layered jello dessert. It’s all the colors and they are both light and creamy, so two layers of each color. It takes her hours. Each layer has to set for 45 minutes before she can put the next layer on. As I was flipping through one of my thrifted cookbooks I came across a jello recipe that I thought looked almost as difficult as her’s. I sent it to my mom and sister jokingly because it looked so hard. Then, I decided to try it. The recipe is called ribbon jello and it was such a great learning experience for me. 

Jello Colors and Flavors

Ribbon jello calls for four different colors (flavors) of jello. If you are making this any other time of the year I would definitely just follow what it is calling for. However, I was making it for Christmas. I didn’t want a rainbow jello for Christmas, I only wanted red and green. So that is what I used! The best thing about this is that you get to choose!

When this recipe came out they might not have had the flavors of jello that they have now so don’t be afraid to branch out. If you have one favorite flavor then you can do all of your layers in that flavor. Or if you have a few flavors that you think will go well together, go for it! Obviously, red and green did very well for me. These were strawberry and lime flavors, by the way, and they made a fabulous flavor combination.

Recipe Book

The ribbon jello is another recipe from my book called “A Harvest of Recipes.” It was compiled by the Grand Blanc Jaycee Auxiliary back in 1976. I thrifted this book at a local store and have been very pleased with the recipes. In fact, this is probably the third or fourth one that I’ve posted to my blog from this book! I’m challenging myself to use recipe books more often, but I still think it says a lot when you can use multiple recipes from a book. Plus, they are good recipes because you know I’ll only share the best with you.

This recipe was submitted to the recipe book by Sheila Kaslowski. As always, this is included so that if someone googles her name someday far in the future they will come across this recipe. I can only hope that the recipe has been handed down, but just in case it hasn’t this is a chance to save it. That is, providing that the internet (and this blog) still exist years and years from now too. 

Ingredients

  • 4 pkg. Jello (green, orange, yellow, and red)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 pkg. Unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Original Ribbon Jello Directions

White jello.
This is what the white jello looks like mixed with the sour cream.
  • While heating the milk with the 1 cup of sugar, dissolve the 2 packages of unflavored gelatin in ½ cup of cold water.
  • When the sugar is dissolved, remove the milk mixture from heat.
  • Add the dissolved unflavored gelatin to the hot milk mixture. 
  • Add the milk mixture gradually to the 2 cups of sour cream.
  • Beat well, add vanilla, beat well again.
  • Set aside.
  • Dissolve the 4 flavored jello with 1 cup of boiling water and ½ cup of cold water each.
  • Start with the green first.
  • Dissolve all 4 flavors at the same time with 1 cup of boiling water but wait to add the ½ cup of cold water depending on whether the jello is getting set too fast.
  • If the jello is setting too fast, use ½ cup of hot water instead of cold water.
  • Pour the first jello (green) into a slightly greased oblong pan.
  • When set up, pour 1 ½ cups of white jello mixture on top. 
  • Let that layer set.
  • Next, pour the orange jello, then 1 ½ cups white jello, yellow jello, then 1 ½ cups white jello, then red jello. 
  • Make sure to let each layer set before adding the next one.
  • If the white jello starts to set too quickly, put the bowl in a pan of hot water and stir until smooth.

Disclaimer

This method didn’t exactly work for me, for a few reasons.

  1. What is an oblong pan? I assumed it was a casserole dish and I was incorrect. This should be made in a 9×13 pan (preferably glass so you can see the layers). I used a small 5×11 pan and I couldn’t fit the last layer. 
  2. I only dissolved a couple of the colored jello at first and they were still setting too quickly. 
  3. There are no times here and this made it really, really difficult to try to gauge everything. I had thought my first layer of green jello was set, but when I tried to pour the white layer on top it went right through the green layer. 

My Ribbon Jello Directions

The first few ribbons setting up in the fridge.
  • While heating the milk with the 1 cup of sugar, dissolve the 2 packages of unflavored gelatin in ½ cup of cold water.
  • When the sugar is dissolved, remove the milk mixture from heat.
  • Add the dissolved unflavored gelatin to the hot milk mixture. 
  • Add the milk mixture gradually to the 2 cups of sour cream.
  • Beat well, add vanilla, beat well again.
  • Set aside.
  • Dissolve the first flavor of jello (green) with 1 cup of boiling water and add the ½ cup cold water. (You can add ice cubes to the cold water to help it set more quickly). 
  • Pour this first layer of jello into a sightly greased 9×13 pan.
  • Put this layer in the refrigerator and allow it to set up. It should take 30-45 minutes.
  • Once that layer has set, add 1 ½ cups of white jello to the top. 
  • Put in the refrigerator to set, another 30-45 minutes.
  • While this layer is setting, dissolve your next flavor of jello (orange) with 1 cup of hot water. 
  • When the white layer has set, mix the ½ cup of cold water to the flavor that you previously dissolved. 
  • Pour the flavor on top of the previously set white layer. Place this in the refrigerator for another 30-45 minutes to set. 
  • Once set, add 1 ½ cups of white jello on top. Place in the refrigerator to set 30-45 minutes.
  • While this layer is setting, dissolve your next flavor of jello (yellow) with 1 cup of hot water. 
  • When the white layer has set, mix the ½ cup of cold water to the flavor that you previously dissolved. 
  • Pour the flavor on top of the previously set white layer. Place this in the refrigerator for another 30-45 minutes to set. 
  • Once set, add 1 ½ cups of white jello on top. Place in the refrigerator to set 30-45 minutes.
  • While this layer is setting, dissolve your next flavor of jello (red) with 1 cup of hot water. 
  • When the white layer has set, mix the ½ cup of cold water to the flavor that you previously dissolved. 
  • Pour the flavor on top of the previously set white layer. Place this in the refrigerator for another 30-45 minutes to set. 

One you get the first couple of steps down the process does get a lot easier to manage. It looks really complicated but the biggest thing about it is patience. You will need to be very patient while you wait for the jello to set. If you go too quickly your layers will blur together and it will not have the ribbon effect. 

Ribbon jello
Ribbon jello complete!

More Notes

I wasn’t able to add my final layer. As I mentioned, I used a smaller pan so all of my jello didn’t fit. The flavor on it was still incredible but one more layer just would have added more of the goodness. Also, the white layer tends to get a little chunky by the end of it. I would suggest ending in a color because it hides the white and looks prettier. 

I used beef gelatin instead of unflavored gelatin packets. One packet is approximately 2 tsp of gelatin. For this recipe use 4 tsp of beef gelatin. It made me feel better that in all of the artificial colors and sugars I used one more healthy ingredient. My next big challenge is to try to naturally flavor and color the jello instead of buying them from the store. 

Whew. There you have it, ribbon jello! It looks incredibly festive with red and green layers. My family loved it so much they couldn’t stop eating it. We barely had any leftovers! This has officially become a staple at our family Christmas and I am now the jello lady. Does someone make jello for your holiday dinner? 

Ribbon Jello

A sweet treat that is perfect for your next part.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 4 pkg jello these are the small boxes
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 pkg unflavored gelatin or use 4 tsp beef gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions
 

  • While heating the milk with the 1 cup of sugar, dissolve the 2 packages of unflavored gelatin in ½ cup of cold water.
  • When the sugar is dissolved, remove the milk mixture from heat.
  • Add the dissolved unflavored gelatin to the hot milk mixture.
  • Add the milk mixture gradually to the 2 cups of sour cream.
  • Beat well, add vanilla, beat well again.
  • Set aside.
  • Dissolve the first flavor of jello (green) with 1 cup of boiling water and add the ½ cup cold water. (You can add ice cubes to the cold water to help it set more quickly).
  • Pour this first layer of jello into a sightly greased 9×13 pan.
  • Put this layer in the refrigerator and allow it to set up. It should take 30-45 minutes.
  • Once that layer has set, add 1 ½ cups of white jello to the top.
  • Put in the refrigerator to set, another 30-45 minutes.
  • While this layer is setting, dissolve your next flavor of jello (orange) with 1 cup of hot water.
  • When the white layer has set, mix the ½ cup of cold water to the flavor that you previously dissolved.
  • Pour the flavor on top of the previously set white layer. Place this in the refrigerator for another 30-45 minutes to set.
  • Once set, add 1 ½ cups of white jello on top. Place in the refrigerator to set 30-45 minutes.
  • While this layer is setting, dissolve your next flavor of jello (yellow) with 1 cup of hot water.
  • When the white layer has set, mix the ½ cup of cold water to the flavor that you previously dissolved.
  • Pour the flavor on top of the previously set white layer. Place this in the refrigerator for another 30-45 minutes to set.
  • Once set, add 1 ½ cups of white jello on top. Place in the refrigerator to set 30-45 minutes.
  • While this layer is setting, dissolve your next flavor of jello (red) with 1 cup of hot water.
  • When the white layer has set, mix the ½ cup of cold water to the flavor that you previously dissolved.
  • Pour the flavor on top of the previously set white layer. Place this in the refrigerator for another 30-45 minutes to set.
  • Store in your refrigerator until ready to eat.

Notes

One you get the first couple of steps down the process does get a lot easier to manage. It looks really complicated but the biggest thing about it is patience. You will need to be very patient while you wait for the jello to set. If you go too quickly your layers will blur together and it will not have the ribbon effect.
 
You should end on a COLOR not white like pictured. I didn’t have enough room in my small pan to add another color. 
Keyword christmas, holiday, jello

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