Weird Food Wednesday: Carrot Carousel

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!

Foreground: plush toy bunny sits with a carrot; Background: Carrot gelatin salad sits on a cake stand.
Cute Bunny does not endorse the use of his image in conjunction with this product.

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.

An orange-colored gelatin salad topped with shaved carrot curls.
Look upon my gelatin and tremble!

This recipe appeared in The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking, published by Weathervane Books, 1982.

By Jen R. L. Disarray

Jen was once described as a "culinary anthropologist". She liked that. When she is not making questionable foods, Jen enjoys reading, sassing, and lurking all over the internet. Jen has a blog called Maybe We Shouldn't Be Eating This, and she is a contributor to the Geekquality podcast and blog.

8 replies on “Weird Food Wednesday: Carrot Carousel”

No, thank goodness. That one sounds even more like something that has been regurgitated. Mine is simple – lime Jell-o, boiling water, whipping cream, cream cheese and crushed pineapple (I even pulled out the recipe book to make sure I wasn’t missing anything). I just don’t like the texture of crushed pineapple in jell-o. It creeps me out.
I think I can partly answer your pineapple question. Even though I hate this stuff, I’ve made it a few times for showers where I know there will be a lot of older ladies attending. What I have found is that if you are using crushed pineapple you have to drain the crap out of it – as in dump it in a colander and squash any trace of juice out of it – or the salad won’t set properly. Maybe substituting some juice for water works, but using juicy fruit won’t.

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