Making J-E-L-L-O with M-E-L-O-N at Dunsmoor

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Erika Chan says her watermelon gelatin dessert at Dunsmoor is easy to make at home. Photo by Erika Chan.

Further proof that gelatin (most of us call it Jell-O) is having a moment, pastry chef Erika Chan is encapsulating the flavors of summer in a wiggling mold at Dunsmoor in Glassell Park. Brought to the United States from Europe, gelatin — or “jellies,” as it’s commonly referred to in the UK — was something only the rich could afford, since it was made by boiling down animal collagen, from sources like hooves, and extracting the gelatin. After World War II, Jell-O became a manufactured, prepared food that grew in popularity as more women entered the workforce. 

At Dunsmoor, which focuses on heritage techniques and American tradition, Chan layers watermelon gelatin with green arava melons from Weiser Family Farms. The molded gelatin sits on a whip made with Achadinha kefir cheese, kinji melon sauce, and floating mixed melon cubes.

Munak Ranch offers green, orange, and red-fleshed melons from Paso Robles. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

Chuy Gomez, a third-generation farmer from Munak Ranch in Paso Robles, brings his much-loved melons to market. He recommends the Rocky Sweet, a green-fleshed cantaloupe that looks like a honeydew. The ranch has grown Ambrosia melons, with their orange flesh, for 20 years. Seedless watermelon is also one of the stand's superstars.