Golden Jelly

Hey, golden isn’t a flavor. Over the years, there have been lots of “golden” jellies.

For example, that was the description of a white grape jelly in a story about the 1885 New Orleans World Fair in the March 20, 1885 edition of the Delta (Pennsylvania) Herald (the “group of states” is the Northwest):

Nebraska shows the best preserves and fruits in this group of States; the clear golden jelly of the white grape and the sound red strawberries floating in a clear liquid are covetously regarded by hungry folks on their way to the lunch-room at the far end of the gallery.

And here’s an example of a white grape golden jelly from 1886’s “The Woman Suffrage Cook Book” by Hattie A. Burr:

Delicious Grape Jelly.

Put the fruit in a preserving kettle and set it on the stove where the fruit will heat gradually; after the juice is extracted, strain through the jelly bag; do not press the fruit but let it drop through thoroughly; put one pound granulated sugar to every pint of clear juice; heat the sugar hot and dry in the oven; boil the juice five minutes, then add the hot sugar; let it come to boiling point, and then remove from the stove; pour in jelly glasses, seal tightly when cold, and keep in a dry, cool, dark place. The grapes remaining in the jelly bag can be pressed, and the juice extracted will make a second grade of jelly.

Mrs. S.C. Vogle.

Then there’s lemon jelly, as described in this cautionary tale (about a woman mistaking salt for sugar) from the October 31, 1896 edition of the Ironwood (Michigan) Times:

Everything turned out splendidly, and Nancy felt a thrill of pardonable pride as she surveyed her finished pies, cakes and apple jelly.

“Now for my lemon jelly,” she said, after a short rest in the easy chair by the window, and a few breaths of the pure fresh air that had a hint of frost in it. “I shall be all done by twelve and can climb the hill for those autumn leaves this afternoon.”

Half an hour later a row of fancy molds of golden jelly stood upon one of the wide old-fashioned window sills.

And here’s an 1896 recipe for lemon jelly from The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer:

Lemon Jelly.

1/2 box gelatin or 2-1/2 tablespoons granulated gelatin.
1/2 cup cold water
2-1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup sugar.
1/2 cup lemon juice.

Soak gelatin twenty minutes in cold water, dissolve in boiling water, strain, and add to sugar and lemon juice. Turn into mould, and chill.

Then there’s the class of opaque pudding-like molds, like this one, from 1898’s The Vital Question and Our Navy by Henry D. Perky:

80 Shredded Wheat Biscuit Golden Jelly. One-quarter box Cox’s gelatin, 1/4 cup cold water, 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 pint milk, 1/2 cup Shredded Wheat Biscuit crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, yolk 1 egg, and 1 whole egg beaten very light, 1/2 cup cream whipped, 1/2 teaspoon lemon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Put the gelatin to soften in the cold water for 1/2 hour, then dissolve in the boiling water and strain. Put 1 pint of milk to boil with 1/2 cup of Shredded Wheat Biscuit crumbs, and let it cook for ten minutes after it begins to boil, then add salt and sugar, stirring in thoroughly. Beat the eggs, and while the cream while the milk and crumbs are cooking. Then turn a little of the hot mixture on to the eggs, stir in well and add to the rest of the hot milk and crumbs and cook 3 minutes.

Take from the fire and add the flavoring and gelatin, stir in well, and last stir the whipped cream in gently. Pour into a mold that has been cooled and wet with water. Set away in a cold place, or in ice water, till chilled and hardened.

Every recipe in the book is for shredded wheat, which is convenient for Henry D. Perky, because he invented shredded wheat in 1893.

Perky was a Nebraska lawyer and state senator (originally from Ohio) who stumbled backwards into success in life. In the 1890s, while traveling the country trying to sell a cylindrical steel rail car for which his business partner had bought the patent, he has some digestive trouble. When a man at the same hotel was eating boiled wheat with cream to treat a similar malady, he started to think of alternative breakfast options. After coming up with shredded wheat, Perky tried to sell the machines to make it–but found nobody wanted to buy a cereal machine. So instead, he sold the end product himself, and took on a vegetarian lifestyle as part of his sales pitch.

To support that effort, he founded the New Era Cooking School, with a peculiar philosophy: that every ill of mankind was caused by violating natural law by eating refined flour, and that a man who ate whole grain, especially wheat, would live harmoniously with nature and wouldn’t go to war. The titular question was how to eat in accordance with natural law; the mention of the Navy was to suggest that, since war was caused by poor diet, spending more on shredded wheat would reduce military expenditures (well, when you boil it down, anyway–feel free to read the original if you like).

In December of 1898, Perky used his breakfast cereal fortune to buy the disused Oread Castle in Worcester, Massachusetts, and he opened the Oread Institute of Domestic Science. Enrollment stopped in 1904 after Perky fell from a horse with the intention that it would be reopened when he recovered; instead, he died in 1906 of apoplexy related to his injuries.

This “kitchen lab” was set up in the third floor of a tower in Oread Castle–note the round room–in a space that had previously been a chapel. From History of the Oread Collegiate Institute, Martha Burt Wright, Ed., 1905.

And while that’s the weirdest historical golden jelly, the list doesn’t stop there–apples, raspberries, and grapefruit also made frequently-enjoyed golden jellies. But this recipe–which other people attribute to a 1974 Sure-Jell brand fruit pectin booklet, but which I haven’t found yet to verify that (I can tell you it wasn’t on the package insert)–features an ingredient that might well be the weirdest of them all.

Although if we’re talking about the weirdest recipe involving the name golden jelly, but that isn’t for jelly, there’s a strong contender in 1977’s Good Food Ideas Cheese Cookbook from Kraft:

Golden Jelly Strata

12 white bread slices
Kraft American Singles pasteurized process cheese food
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of pepper
Kraft concord grape jelly or strawberry preserves

Place four slices of bread in greased 9-inch square pan. Cover with four process cheese food slices and four slices of bread; repeat. Combine eggs, milk and seasoning; pour over bread. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Bake at 325 deg., 40 minutes or until lightly browned and puffy; let stand 5 minutes. Top with jelly; cut into squares. 4 to 6 servings.

Why do I feel like this is going to show up on Dinner is Served 1972 someday?

From the box of L.R. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Golden Jelly

3-3/4 cups sugar
3 cups water
1/2 cup Tang
pinch baking soda
1 box (1-3/4 oz.) powdered fruit pectin

Measure sugar and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in large saucepan; mix well. Place over high heat and stir until mixture comes to a hard boil.

Immediately add sugar and stir. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from het, skim off foam with a metal spoon, and pour into glasses. Cover with paraffin.

Makes about 6 medium glasses.

Yesterdish reminder: Use modern canning methods for safety. Paraffin won’t work.


  1. I have actually made something “golden-flavored” before!
    And to very questionable results…

    Is the Golden Jelly Strata a challenge???

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