Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Carrot Carousel

This post was originally published in Persephone Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Look upon my gelatin and tremble!

Anyone can prepare a delicious meal, but it takes a special sort of foolhardiness to cook and consume (and document!) food that you suspect will be hideous before you even start. Sometimes I find recipes (especially in my older cookbooks) that look so ill-advised that my curiosity gets the better of me and I need to try them. You know… for science!

This week, I found the recipe for Carrot Carousel. I have no doubt that back in the day, a gelatin mold like this would have been a pretty impressive show of your culinary prowess. You’d be the envy of all your friends and neighbors with your ability to erect that wobbly, orange piece of business. (Must…not…make…obvious joke.) Here in the glorious present, however, I’m always a bit hesitant to subject guests to my retro food experiments. With my best friend visiting for the weekend, I wasn’t sure how I would complete my recipe, but she was kind (and brave) enough to help with all the prep work and taste testing. (Bonus! I’ve always wanted a sous chef!)

I’ve included the entire recipe below, but the main ingredients (besides gelatin) are orange juice, pineapple, carrot, and mayonnaise. To be specific, the recipe calls for a whole cup of mayonnaise. I’m going to go ahead and say it: that is a frightening amount of mayonnaise in almost any context, but when I’m planning to mix it with orange juice, my concern doubles. It tastes like I imagine a mayonnaise creamsicle would taste. To my surprise, though, the discernible mayonnaise tang isn’t the most troubling aspect of Carrot Carousel. The texture is disconcerting because of the tiny pieces of blenderized raw carrot. It’s like it has been pre-chewed! My friend (who is truly a good sport for agreeing to sample it in solidarity with me) put this feeling into words better than I could: “Have you ever been sick after eating a salad?”

That isn’t a very pleasant mental image, so here’s a picture of a cute bunny. Enjoy!

Carrot Carousel
1½ cups cold orange juice
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
½ cup boiling orange juice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1½ cup cubed carrots
1 (13½-oz) can crushed pineapple

Pour ½ cup cold orange juice into blender container; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 5 minutes; add boiling orange juice. Process at low speed until gelatin is dissolved; use rubber spatula to push gelatin granules into mixture. Add remaining cold orange juice, salt, and mayonnaise; blend well. Add carrots; cover. Process at high speed until carrots are finely grated; stir in undrained pineapple. Pour into 6-cup mold; chill until firm. Unmold onto serving plate. Yield 8 servings.

This recipe is from The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking, published by Weathervane Books, 1982.


  1. your pictures turned out so great! I still feel that thing in my mouth... I'll never be ready for that jelly ;)

  2. Thanks Gab! I'm lucky to have such a brave friend who is willing to lend herself to my twisted experiments! ;)

  3. I was reading a book the other day and they mentioned gelatin salads. I didn't want to believe the worst, so I skimmed over it and moved on. Now all of my worst fears have come true....

  4. I actually thought this looked appetizing throughout half of this post until I read about the mayo. Then I was HORRIFIED.