OK, so I suddenly got into making jellies – I admit it, it was great fun, and although they bought out the six year old in me, I think they can actually be quite sophisticated dinner party fare, especially the individual sized ones. I make them with gelatin and a lot of real fruit. The only sweetener I used was in the cream-jelly part where I used a little honey.
The great thing with jellies is that you can experiment endlessly with different kinds of fruit, layers and molds. On the last point, I own one actual jelly mold, and for the small ones I improvised with various drinking glasses and pudding bowls.
Fruit, especially berries, can be expensive, however at this time of year local pick-your-own crops can be reasonably priced. Better still its the ideal time to harvest your own home-grown soft fruit – we pick gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries and tayberries from June to August. Growing soft fruit is easier than you think. Take a look at Keir’s Rosemary Cottage fruit gardening blog here.
↑ Some of the berries we have harvested this month from our garden
Or from frozen
If you are on a tight budget, or just need something at hand and ready to go, then here is a great little tip: most supermarkets sell mixed berries in their frozen section which are often less than half the price of their fresh counterparts and are ideal for jelly fun.
Typically such berries average a mere 5g carbs per 100g, so can definitely form part of a low carb diet as long as you don’t eat huge portions (tempting though that may be).
Recipe (serves 6) – one large jelly or 6 small jellies
If you intend to create a layered effect, each layer must be fully set before you add the next layer. Decide which layer (fruit or cream) to do first. Remember, when you turn it out it will be the other way up (sorry if that was rather obvious!) Below I’ve included quantities for a 2/3 fruit, 1/3 cream layer.
500g berries, all one type or a mixture
2 x 12g sachets of gelatin granules (e.g. Dr. Oetker Gelatine Sachets 3x12g)
One large jelly mold (mine holds a maximum of 800ml/28 fluid oz/1.3 pints), or small ones of whatever size you have.
Tip: Greasing the molds lightly with butter can enable an easier turn-out.
Tip: If using frozen fruit wash the outside of the bag and place it in a clean bowl to defrost at room temperature. The bags, for some reason, always have little holes in them so fruit juice will drip out as it defrosts, so beware of this potential for dripping purple juice on things!
- Place defrosted or fresh raw washed fruit in a blender and whizz up until pureed.
- Sieve the puree, rubbing through with a wooden spoon, into a glass bowl to remove pips (especially if you are using raspberries). You can add some vanilla essence to the fruit puree if you wish. I think it adds a good rounded flavour to the fruit, and will make it taste sweeter than the natural sugar content of the fruit would suggest.
- Pour 100ml boiling water into a separate small measuring jug and sprinkle 2 sachets (24 g) of powdered gelatine into it, stirring until dissolved. (I stand my jug in a bowl of boiling water so it does not cool down too fast which enables the gelatin to dissolve fully). The dissolving stage takes some minutes and must be thorough, or you’ll have lumpy jelly!
- Thoroughly mix the dissolved gelatin into the sieved pureed fruit. You will need to mix it quite rapidly as the gelatine will try to go firm the moment it cools, as it promptly does when poured into the fruit puree, so really mix it in rapidly to avoid getting lumps of gelatine in the finished product. Pour into the lightly greased mold/s.
- Refrigerate until completely set.
200g cream (single, double or clotted will work, but if using clotted cream it will need thinning a bit with some milk or thinner cream, and this will need to be blended until smooth before adding the dissolved gelatine. I use a fork for this.)
1 x 12g sachet of gelatin granules (e.g. Dr. Oetker Gelatin Sachets 3 x 12g)
1 desertspoon honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Place cream in a bowl, ensuring it is a smooth liquid
- Sprinkle 1 sachets (12 g) of powdered gelatin into 50 ml boiling water, stir until dissolved.
- Thoroughly stir the dissolved gelatin into the cream, with some rapidity, as discussed above.
- Add the honey/maple syrup and again mix well.
- Pour this on top of the set fruit jelly and put back in the fridge.
- Refrigerate for a few hours or until completely set.
Blancmange variation: Using the ingredients from both of the above, simply mix the fruit puree and cream together before adding all of the dissolved gelatin.
All the quantities above are flexible depending on what sort of result you are looking for, so these ingredients and the amount of gelatin needed are not fixed. One of these 12 g sachets of gelatin is supposed to set 1 pint of liquid/568ml, but I think it needs a bit more than that, hence the quantities I have given. A reasonably solid jelly will result, rather than a mound.
I have one jelly mold, but also use pudding bowls and small drinks glasses to create my jellies, and they need releasing before they will turn out. To do this I simply place the mold into a bowl of boiling water for just a half minute or less. This melts the butter with which I grease the molds, or the outer layer of jelly if you don’t grease it, enabling a better release. If it still won’t come out, I use a knife to ease the sides away, or repeat the hot water treatment but don’t leave it in hot water too long!
Not only does this hot-water method help release the jelly, but a little running melted fruit jelly down the outside is quite attractive as the pictures at the top of this post show. Take care though, if you overdo the heating bit it will become a dripping mess!
Finally: place a serving plate on top of the jelly mold, keeping it central, and invert. It should drop out with a satisfying plop, bang in the middle of your plate, ready for presenting. Voila!
I hope this inspires you to give real fruit jellies a go! Let me know what you think below.