Friday, May 6, 2011
Kan-etsu Mikan Gelatin Dessert
When I first searched for this company as part of my research, I came across a company with exactly the same name and a Japanese domain name which did construction. For a moment, I wondered if this was some mutant food product created from industrial chemicals that usually go into building houses. Perhaps the construction company wanted to diversify their business model by branching out into calorie-free desserts. Fortunately, I came across the food making Kan-etsu, which has a non-Japanese domain name (.com, not .co.jp)
I found this at Peacock supermarket while I was searching for cheese for my husband's sandwiches for lunch. I had been driven to Japanese cheese because it seems all or most of the Costcos in Japan have been shut down since the quake. More than a month after the quake, the Tamasakai branch that we usually go to was barred and denying us access to the Colby Jack cheese and cheap Starbucks espresso beans that we so desperately need. In desperation, I bought 8 small (18 gram/.63 oz.) plastic-wrapped slices for a whopping 278 yen ($3.42), and this 100-gram pack of gelatin for a mere 98 yen ($1.21). There were 4 flavors on offer - coffee, grape, mikan (Japanese tangerine), and grapefruit. The retail price is 148 yen ($1.82), so this was a "bargain".
The first bite has a nice hit of orange (mikan) flavor followed by unpleasant bitterness. I assume this is related to the aspartame and Sucralose that sweetens it. After two or three bites, the bitterness goes away and the sweetness amplifies. Unfortunately, the orange flavor also mellows with future bites. The gelatin, which is made with Japanese agar agar rather than animal products, is shelf stable (doesn't require refrigeration), but quite soft at any temperature.
This is a fairly large serving of gelatin, and though it claims it is zero calories, it's actually 5 calories for the whole 100 grams (3.5 oz.). That probably comes form the orange flavoring which is from fruit juice concentrate. It also has added antioxidants. The whole point of this is to fill a craving for dessert or to fill a grumbling belly when you don't want to eat something more fattening. To that end, it does work, though I believe the sugar-free Jell-O gelatin, which I haven't had for about 4 years but can still recall, tastes a bit better. Both this gelatin and Jell-O brand (sugar-free) have an aftertaste from the artificial sweeteners, but the latter has a more citric acid zest to it which makes it taste more like orange.
If you're trying to reduce your calories, and desperate to quiet a grumbling belly, this will do you. I wouldn't expect too much from it though and I don't think I'd buy it again. There are better calorie-free gelatin/jelly options out there that will fill the bill as well or better.