Thursday, April 5, 2012

Buttermilk Congealed Salad - Pink Jello Salad

A tangy form of congealed fruit salad, made with crushed pineapple, flavored gelatin, and your choice of either cottage cheese, buttermilk, cream cheese, salad dressing mayonnaise, sour cream, or any combination of them, with whipped topping folded in.

Pink Jello Salad

This is yet another recipe that is a throwback to my worn out, old Bell's Best cookbook of the 70s. I seem to be stuck in that era here lately don't I? Truth is, have you noticed that retro is quite in these days. Suddenly I'm feeling rather hip y'all!

I had to hire a plumber recently and as I was handing over my life savings, he noticed my torn, tattered and yellowed Bell's Best cookbook laying on the table. His eyes lit up as he proclaimed, "my mama was a pioneer - she used to work for BellSouth!" Funny that he immediately recognized that old cookbook. Somehow we got to talking about schools and apparently he and I both graduated from Biloxi High, but turns out he was born the year before I graduated. He looked at me and said, "I really thought you were my age." I just wanted to hug his neck, bless his sweet little heart, but considering he'd been digging around in the plumbers regions of my house that I'd rather not think about, I just smiled real big and said "thank you."

Anyway, back in the 70s, congealed salads were a given on just about any southern holiday table and a gladly welcomed addition. Most often found in the form of flavored jello containing mostly fruit, but sometimes vegetables, and usually set in a ring mold, many of us have fond memories of them from our grandmother’s tables, especially on those sacred holiday gatherings. It is unfortunate that they don't get much respect these days for their past. I'm afraid that most younger folks can’t get past the name congealed, and others seem a bit freaked out just by the jiggle factor alone, much less to be interested in helping to keep them alive. I don’t exactly get it.

You can find out a whole lot more than you probably ever really wanted to know about congealed salads right here, but basically congealed just means Jello with stuff in it, so I say let's just go ahead and call it jello salad, if it will encourage folks to give them a try. My old cookbook has several so named "jello salads" in it, I suspect for that very reason - the rest of us older folks will always know that it's really just congealed salad.

To be honest, while it's often called Buttermilk Congealed Salad, I'm not sure that this particular type of jello salad actually really qualifies as an authentic congealed salad, since technically it's more of a stir-in and mix-up dish, closely related to the category of say, Watergate Salad, another dish we can't quite place. As always, it comes with many names - buttermilk congealed, green, orange or pink fluff, pink party salad, pineapple salad, cottage cheese salad, and a wide variety of other names when made with different flavors of gelatin, typically lemon, lime, or both, apricot or orange jello.

To make it, you'll need a large can of pineapple, a tablespoon or so of sugar (intended to counter the tartness of the salad a bit), a large box of red gelatin for the pink salad version (strawberry, cherry, raspberry are all good), 2 cups of cottage cheese that has been creamed, or you can exchange that for buttermilk, sour cream, a salad dressing type of mayonnaise like Miracle Whip, or any combination of them. You can also substitute a block of cream cheese along with 1 cup of another one of those ingredients. I also like this salad with marshmallows and pecans, but both are completely optional if you prefer yours without.

Here's how to make Pink Jello Salad.

Add the pineapple with it's juices and the sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add the gelatin.

Stir it in until well dissolved, stir in the cream cheese here if you're using that as a substitute for the cottage cheese, and you can also melt the marshmallows here too if you prefer. I like the texture of them in the salad myself, so I put them in later, when the mixture is cold. Many people do melt them in though. Once well blended, remove from heat and let mixture cool completely. Transfer to a covered bowl because you'll be refrigerating this in a bit.

When I use cottage cheese, I typically use a regular curd type, but I like to cream it in a blender, though it's not necessary at all. Just add a spoon or two of the pineapple/gelatin mixture to help it cream.

Combine the cooled pineapple mixture with the buttermilk or cottage cheese, sour cream, or salad dressing mayonnaise like Miracle Whip and mix in the whipped topping; stir until well blended. Sorry for the shading - sometimes my camera and my kitchen lighting just don't get along and well, this ain't no high-falutin' photography site anyways.

Stir in marshmallows and pecans if using. You may leave them completely out if you prefer

Mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or overnight is even better.

Spoon into dessert bowls to serve.

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Recipe: Pink Jello Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 2 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 (20 ounce) crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 large (0.6 ounce) box of strawberry, raspberry or cherry flavored gelatin
  • 2 cups of buttermilk, sour cream, a salad dressing mayonnaise or creamed cottage cheese
  • 2 cups of whipped cream or non-dairy topping (like Cool Whip)
  • 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows, optional
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans, optional

Add pineapple, with it's juices, and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil; stir in the gelatin until blended, remove from heat and let mixture cool completely. If using cottage cheese, cream in a food processor or blender along with a spoon or two of the cooled pineapple mixture. Combine the pineapple mixture, cottage cheese and whipped topping; stir until well blended. Add marshmallows and pecans if using, stir well, cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or longer. To serve, spoon into dessert bowls.

Creamsicle Salad: Omit the pineapple and substitute one 15 ounce can of mandarin oranges. Exchange the red jello for orange. Boil the oranges with their juices and jello as above; let cool slightly and continue preparation as above.

Variations: Cottage cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, a salad dressing mayonnaise like Miracle Whip - or any combination of these may be used for a total of 2 cups. You can also substitute one (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, softened at room temperature and stirred into the hot pineapple, and add in 1 cup of another one of the ingredients. May also vary the color and flavor using different gelatin flavors. Lemon, lime, or a combination of the two, apricot and orange are the most common gelatin flavors you'll see for this salad.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Posted by on April 5, 2012
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  1. I love this recipe...and it is so simple. It also brings back memories, since my Granny (now gone) always made this and brought it to family get-togethers.
    I ran across your recipe which brought me here to your blog...on facebook. Im now your newest follower. Please come visit me at and hopefully you'll follow me back. THANKS!!!

  2. I have a yellow cookbook put out by the phone company in AL called Calling All Cooks. It must contain every southern recipe that has ever been written. I learned to cook from this book in the 80's. It sounds very much like your cookbook right down to this jello salad. (someone should have told me this stuff was retro so I would have know how cool I really am!)

    1. Oh yes! It certainly is - Calling All Cooks is the book put out by the Alabama telephone pioneers! Louisiana has a series too, and I'm guessing a few other southern states, though I'm only familiar with the chapters from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. To be honest, I am betting that many of us learned to cook from these books - they might not have pictures, and sometimes they are a little vague on sizes and such, but I think they are great little cookbooks!

  3. Ah, this is what I have been looking for! I believe this is the recipe that my grandmother made and I loved as a kid, thanks so much!! :D

  4. Hey Mary,

    Im nowhere near the Deep South but i wish i was with all of this gorgeous food. I just gave you an award on my blog, im in no doubt that you get lots but have a look if you like,

    I can smell your fall of the bone ribs from Dublin, Ireland.


  5. I do remember this from my childhood, it looks so refreshing! Happy Easter, Mary! anne

  6. Oh yeah, I remember these kinds of salads, my mom always went with green for some reason.

  7. I always loved this salad Mary. My recipe uses orange jello, but I'll try your strawberry next time. This and the Watergate salad were the only jello salads I would eat. I didn't like the wobbly ones growing up-it was a texture thing for me.

  8. I know I'm going to love this sweet treat. I
    am wondering if I can put it in a mold...will it set up like that without spreading out all over the plate?

    1. Hi Adrienne! I'm not sure this recipe is liquid enough to mold. I haven't tried to mold it, but it's pretty soft, so I'm just not sure that it would hold together. Now, if I were to attempt that, I'd prepare the gelatin according to the package directions, let it cool a bit, then I'd leave out the pineapple - it will prevent the Jello from gelling - but stir in the other ingredients and pour into a mold. Hmmmm... I may try that before Christmas! If I do, I'll report back.

  9. My daughter-in-law cooks like this; use whatever you have on hand. I was taught in home ec classes to follow the recipes EXACTLY which was a handicap through these years. Now my sweet girl has taught me much about cooking with what you have on hand. This recipe is a favorite of mine using orange gelatin, cottage cheese, pineapple, mandarin oranges and sometimes nuts. No marshmallows. I don't cook it. Drain the pineapple & drink the juice (my favorite part), and then just mix it all up with a big spoon and refrigerate. I don't even cream the cottage cheese. It's called Orange Stuff at my house. Love this "Stuff."

    1. There are some recipes that I recommend not to sway from because I already know the results won't be the same - my Special Occasion Macaroni and Cheese is one that I do that with - but for the most part, I say use what you have! I do always recommend that folks make a recipe the first time exactly as it is written and then experiment the next time. Sometimes substitutes just don't work, and if you haven't tried it the original way, you don't know that it was the substitute that was at fault, not the recipe!

      This jello salad is not the prettiest dessert on the block, and probably doesn't appeal much to the younger folks for that reason, but I sure love it. It's a bit old fashioned but still so good!

  10. Well, Mary, this one is going to be a hit. I think. Thank you so much for this recipe. Made it, first time using what we had, a box of Jello from WAY back in the pantry, some mini marshmallows going hard, ok, double the marshmallows because the first ones did melt, dear hubby just loves 'em, almost made the pecans to powder, about the only way he can eat them now with his new partial plate, a low fat block of cream cheese, some Daisy cottage cheese, full fat, and some fat free Harris Teeter whipped topping. Did the cottage cheese in the blender.
    This is DELICIOUS, but it's not light and fluffy. I goofed? It was very liquid in the bowl when being mixed. I was worried it would not set up, too liquid. Was expecting something more along the lines of watergate salad. Maybe the pineapple was still too warm? Wish I had used buttermilk, but wanted to save what I had for biscuits tonight.

    But it congealed just fine, actually a little dense and heavy. Somehow I think there wasn't enough liquid using the cream cheese which I did melt in the hot pineapple. The raspberry jello flavor is too intense. I used 2 cups of the whipped topping, wondering if I should fold in the rest of the 8oz container? And next time I think I may try mayo and buttermilk, as this is really sweet. Gave hubby a little bowl, he says the raspberry jello is too intense in it, but it "grew on him as he ate." I had the same reaction: first bite was way to intense on the raspberry and way too sweet, but found myself going back for more, and more. Serving it with a baked ham tonight. It's going to be great with ham salad tomorrow night! Know already I'm going to keep eating what I made - even this batch is addictive. Can't wait to make it again, see if I can achieve "fluffy." Thank you again. Going to have a lot of fun with this - i've ALWAYS wanted this recipe and never found it before.

    1. It's not really "fluffy," maybe kinda of airy jello?? I don't know, hard to describe. This is another one of those not so pretty but tastes delicious fruit salads. I can't stay out of it - husband won't eat it though so it's all good!

      Did you know that you can freeze the mini marshmallows? Try it sometime. After too many bags going bad in the pantry, I tried it and was surprised to see it worked!

  11. Thanks for the marshmallow tip. Darn but this stuff is like Jello cocaine, addictive ain't it? And you know what? 2 days later, and it has lightened up some! At least, what's left of it (grins) did. So far daughters haven't tried any, it's just the two of us nibbling it away. They say it's too pink. Cannot wait to try it with buttermilk.


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