Preparation time: ~30 minutes + 24 hours
Jelly, or “Jello” as you may know it, gets a bad rap. Ridiculed by some who are convinced that it is one of the few desserts we have to offer in England – that and spotted dick of course – and scorned by other people who associate it purely with those obnoxious colouring, preservative, and artificial sweetener loaded offerings from many stores, it hasn’t fared well in the past 15 years or so! It’s true that many people associate the wibbly-wobbly goodness with childrens’ birthday parties but despite that, its reputation is not deserved. On a hot summer’s day, you can’t beat something like this. Cool, easy to eat, and refreshing, and now it’s time for the humble jelly to “come of age” a bit.
I don’t drink much, but I like cooking with wine so what better ingredient to use to make a jelly. Now I didn’t want the jelly to be completely intoxicating, so it needed to be diluted with something. I chose grape juice for this, though you can equally use another type of juice, other types of wine and so forth. Well, to be honest you can even omit the wine if you’re not a fan – it still makes a delicious dessert (and rather more child-friendly!) – although the wine does give it a delicious kick!
One could be forgiven for thinking that the “pattern” on top of the jelly was on purpose – in fact, I forgot to submerge the jelly in warm water for a few minutes before turning out of the dish and it sheared away from the bowl, leaving a layer still in the bottom. I’m glad this happened though, because a lot of bitter sediment from the grape juice had gathered there which would have spoiled the appearance of the final dish!
As for the setting agent – I used gelatin. It was actually my first time working with gelatin and it took me a while to figure out the quantities because it’s, surprisingly, not written on the packet. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 sheet per 100ml of liquid that you wish to set. Gelatin is sold in different strengths, though most of the gelatin which is destined for home use is apparently the same strength so theoretically you shouldn’t need to worry so much about this. I’ve heard that gelatin sheets are usually only sold in Europe, and it’s sold in powder form in the US and Canada.
If you can only get powder you’ll need to research how this should be used as I’m not familiar with it at all.
# Use 1 envelope (1 tablespoon or 1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin to 2 cups of water for standard firmness. Decrease or increase water for your particular needs. One 3-ounce package of flavored, sweetened gelatin needs 2 cups of water. One tablespoon of unflavored powdered gelatin equals 4 sheets of leaf gelatin.
– Thanks to A_Boleyn for the tip!
If you decide to give this a try, don’t use pineapple, kiwi or mango – (possibly peach, nectarine and apricot too?) which contain an enzyme which prevent the jelly from setting. I recommend it though; the dessert is easy and simple to prepare and just needs a good 24 hours to set, so you can make it in advance!
I wanted to tell you all as well that I’m very happy because today I received something from a local miller. I’ve long been quick to complain about the astonishingly boring selection of flours in French stores, and a colleague of mine pointed me towards a website of a company which supplies bakeries in the region with flours. I was like a kid in a candy store – I saw that they sell pearl sugar, and a I bought a giant tub of glucose syrup (I’ll post something using that in the not too distant future!) but the most exciting thing was the flour… oh the flour!
Counter-clockwise from bottom left – Linseed flour, quinoa flour, chickpea flour, sweet chestnut flour, spelt flour, kamut flour (and now that I type “kamut” into my address bar, I notice in my browsing history that Kelly has used this flour once before here). I can’t wait to get stuck into those!
Anyway – I’ll leave you all for now with the recipe! Have a great day everyone
Summer Fruits Red Wine Jelly
- Enough fresh berries to fill a large bowl of your choice by one third
- Enough liquid (mixture of juice and wine) to fill the bowl up on top of the berries
- 1 sheet of gelatin per 100ml of liquid, rounded up
- ~100g Caster Sugar, depending on personal preferences
- Start off by drawing a large container of cold water and carefully submerge the gelatin sheets inside and allow them to soften up for five minutes. While the gelatin is soaking, wash, trim and cut up the fruit into small pieces and transfer to the basin that you’ll make the jelly in.
- Place all the liquid into a large pan and pour in the sugar. Heat gently while stirring and when the sugar is completely dissolved transfer in the gelatin, sheet by sheet, stirring between each addition. Be sure not to bring the liquid to the boil.
- Pour the liquid over the strawberries and allow to cool before covering and placing into the refrigerator. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to set.
- If you wish to turn the jelly out, hold in a bowl of warm water for a couple of minutes before covering with a plate and turning upside down. Enjoy on its own or with a good ol’ scoop of ice-cream!