My son asked for some pudding this morning. I knew I had a couple boxes of instant pudding in the cabinet (Trader Joe's brand). As I reached for a box, I wondered what exactly is instant pudding? I hadn't given it much thought before. Pudding isn't something we eat often maybe that's why.
So what is instant pudding? Here's what's on the label(s):
Trader Joe's Chocolate Instant Pudding ingredients: Cane sugar, Modified corn starch, Cocoa powder, Bourbon Vanilla extract, Sodium Pyrophospate and Disodium phospate (for thickening) and Salt.
Jell-O Brand Chocolate Instant Pudding ingredients: Sugar, Food Starch Modified, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Disodium Phosphate, Contains less than 2% of Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Salt, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Mono and Diglycerides, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Color(s) Artificial, BHA used as a preservative.
As I often discover, big brands usually contain more ingredients and more junk. This is another example of that. And to add insult to injury, the junkier pudding costs more: $1.69 vs. 99¢.
Basically instant pudding has thickening agents that make it set quickly. I'm not sure why Jell-O Brand has to muck it up with all the other junk. Jell-O's instant pudding has a long history and was promoted as "busy day desserts" in the 1950's - its got my respect but not enough to eat it. When companies like Trader Joe's offer a cleaner product, there's no reason to buy the other.
With the exception of not being instant, making homemade pudding is suppose to be pretty easy. I admit that I haven't made it from scratch yet. I plan to give it a shot next time Gav requests it. I'll post on how it goes when I do. Meanwhile, I will share a recipe a friend shared with me for homemade instant pudding mix. I will be trying this as well. Although it's not instant in the way a box is (add cold milk, chill then eat) it's quick.
Homemade Chocolate Instant Pudding
3 cups Non-fat dry milk
2.5 cups Unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups Sugar
1 tsp Salt
3 cups Cornstarch
Store in an air-tight container until you're ready to use.
Directions: Add one half cup mix to two cups milk, mix in a saucepan over low heat, and heat and stir constantly until boiling. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When I try it, I plan to use whole cane sugar in place of the white sugar and arrowroot in place of cornstarch. Until then, I won't shy away from instant pudding in a box if I need it and don't suggest you do either but do buy one that doesn't have a bunch of unnecessary yucky ingredients.