I remember reading about herbal jello years ago through James Green’s informative and downright hilarious book, The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook. In the book he describes his process of using tinctures (alcohol extracts) and Jello™ packets to make an herbal jello. It sounded interesting but admittedly wasn’t something high on my list to try.
Then, a short while ago I had to do a clear diet for 36 hours. One of the suggested things I could eat was Jello™. At the store I took one look at the ingredients and set the box back down on the shelf. Yikes!
And thus began my own herbal jello experiments.
Herbal jellos are easy to make and delicious. It can be a great way to entice a child to enjoy more herbs! Or a simple and healthy dessert. They can be made with any herbal tea and gelatin.
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients in this herbal jello recipe…
Gelatin is an amino-rich substance derived from collagen. It is most often obtained from the bones and hides of animals. In addition to Jello™, gelatin is used as a thickener in sauces, marshmallows, and other various candies like candy corn and gummy bears.
As traditional foods have become more popular there’s been a surge of interest in gelatin and bone broths (bone broths are a way to make gelatin at home). Human clinical trials are sparse; however, gelatin is touted with many health benefits due to the abundance of the amino acids within it.
- One human clinical study showed that gelatin can benefit people with osteoarthritis.1
- Gelatin can soothe and coat mucous membranes, which may benefit those with digestive inflammation and intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
- A diet rich in these amino acids can strengthen hair, teeth and nails.
- Glycine, an amino acid found in gelatin, has been shown to increase sleep quality.2
As with anything we consume it’s important to use the highest quality whenever possible. I recommend finding gelatin made from pastured (grass-fed) animals. If you do not consume animal products then you may want to look into making similar herbal gels with agar agar.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Stinging nettle is a nutrient-dense plant that is both medicine and food. Herbalists often recommend stinging nettle for supporting bone, teeth and hair health — making it a perfect pairing with gelatin.
Peppermint (Mentha x arvensis)
Peppermint is delicious and is a wonderful herb to support digestion. It can increase appetite and address digestive troubles like nausea and cramping. I included it in this recipe because I love strawberries paired with mint.
As if we need reasons to eat strawberries! They are delicious! They are also nutrient-dense and a wonderful source of antioxidants, including vitamin C. To get the most benefits from strawberries eat them quickly after harvesting. In this recipe I used strawberries from my garden that I had frozen and then thawed prior to making this.
Strawberry Mint Herbal Jello with Stinging Nettle
This recipe is a delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of gelatin and stinging nettle. For a rich dessert, try eating this with a side of vanilla ice cream — a new habit I picked up while visiting Ireland.
What you’ll need…
- 1 rounded tablespoon of gelatin powder (look for grass-fed sources)
- 2 ounces cold water
- 16 additional ounces of water
- 1/2 cup dried stinging nettle leaf (10 grams)
- 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaf (2 grams)
- 2 tablespoons honey (or to taste)
- 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen ones that have been thawed)
Put the gelatin in a large glass measuring cup. Add the two ounces of cold water and whisk together until well combined (about 1 minute). The mixture should form a thick gel.
Place the other 16 ounces of water and stinging nettle leaf into a small pan. Bring this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes (covered).
Turn off heat and add the mint. Stir well, then cover again with a tight-fitting lid. After 5 minutes, strain the tea through a fine mesh strainer. Compost the herbs.
Add honey to the tea mixture. Stir to dissolve. Taste and add more honey if desired.
Pour the hot tea and honey into the gelatin mixture (this needs to be very hot water so reheat if it has cooled down). Whisk the tea and the gelatin mixture together thoroughly until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm.
Place your strawberries in a 9X9 glass pan (or something of similar size). Pour the gelatin mixture over the strawberries.
Place the pan in the refrigerator overnight or until it thickens into a lovely gel.
Eat within 3-5 days.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Do you use stinging nettle in your food?
Have you ever made an herbal jello?
Let me know in the comments below.
- Kumar, Suresh, Fumihito Sugihara, Keiji Suzuki, Naoki Inoue, and Sriraam Venkateswarathirukumara. “A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Randomised, Clinical Study on the Effectiveness of Collagen Peptide on Osteoarthritis.” Journal of the science of food and agriculture 95, no. 4 (2015): doi:10.1002/jsfa.6752. ↩
- YAMADERA, Wataru, Kentaro INAGAWA, Shintaro CHIBA, Makoto BANNAI, Michio TAKAHASHI, and Kazuhiko NAKAYAMA. “Glycine Ingestion Improves Subjective Sleep Quality in Human Volunteers, Correlating with Polysomnographic Changes.” Sleep and Biological Rhythms 5, no. 2 (2007): doi:10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x. ↩
- Randall, Colin, Andy Dickens, Adrian White, Hilary Sanders, Mary Fox, and John Campbell. “Nettle Sting for Chronic Knee Pain: A Randomised Controlled Pilot Study.” Complementary therapies in medicine 16, no. 2 (2008): doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2007.01.012. ↩
- Namazi, N, A Tarighat, and A Bahrami. “The Effect of Hydro Alcoholic Nettle (Urtica Dioica) Extract on Oxidative Stress in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Double-blind Clinical Trial.” Pakistan journal of biological sciences : PJBS 15, no. 2 (2012): 98-102. ↩
- Namazi, N, A T Esfanjani, J Heshmati, and A Bahrami. “The Effect of Hydro Alcoholic Nettle (Urtica Dioica) Extracts on Insulin Sensitivity and Some Inflammatory Indicators in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Double-blind Control Trial.” Pakistan journal of biological sciences : PJBS 14, no. 15 (2011): 775-9. ↩