Jelly, and the phrase ‘I like jelly’ has become code in our family for please stop talking about this topic and talk about something less controversial. We are so fortunate that in our little family of four we all not only love each other but like each other and very much enjoy being together and going out together. However we are very different and we do have very different points of view on all sorts of topics and discussion can become intense, which is all very well for whoever’s doing the debating but others in our little group might not be so engaged… and a signal for that is to drop the three little words ‘I like jelly’. It may have to be repeated a couple of times, but eventually we all discuss jelly… or other non-controversial topics!
Jelly is something I remember from my earliest childhood – I don’t know if I remember or if it was my aunty telling me, but struggling as a little girl with getting jelly from the bowl into my mouth, I would pick it up and hold it on the spoon to get it to its destination. Jelly would appear regularly – on ts own, with Carnation milk, with custard, in a trifle, in a flan, with sponge cakes, or made into fluff… perhaps I’ll make fluff to eat after dinner tonight. In those days jelly was strawberry or raspberry, orange, lemon, lime of blackcurrant, but these days it comes in many different flavours – it also comes as crystals, powder and ready-made in pots!
As a nation we’ve liked jelly for centuries, using it in savoury or sweet dishes – often dishes which needed to look splendid. The best was made from calf’s foot, but I guess a lot of other different jellies were made which would have been cheaper. Isinglass and hartshorn were also used to produce the gel needed for presentation, and colouring was added for an even greater effect. At first jelly was just for a visual effect but soon it became flavoured with different things, sweet or savoury.
I know my daughter, queen of jelly, only likes the sweet stuff – jelly in a pork pie for example, isn’t to her taste at all! So maybe I’ll get some jelly, maybe raspberry, and since it’s the season, buy some raspberries too, and we’ll have fruit jelly and custard for dessert tonight!
Here is one of Eliza Acton’s recipe for jelly:
Raspberry Jelly for Flavoured Cream:
- 4 lbs of raspberry juice (see instructions below)
- 5 lbs fine sugar, warmed
- heat raspberries over a low heat until their juice runs then strain and press through a muslin to end up with 4 lbs of juice
- bring juice to the boil and add the warm sugar
- dissolve sugar then boil for a further 5 mins, skimming any scum
- pour into sterilised warm jars to sweeten creams
… and Eliza wrote:
Take the stalks from some quite ripe and freshly gathered raspberries, stir them over the fire until they render their juice freely, then strain and weigh it; or press it from them through a cloth, and then strain it clear; in either case boil it five minutes after it is weighed, and for each pound stir in one pound and a quarter of good sugar reduced quite to powder, sifted and made very hot; boil preserve quickly for five minutes longer, and skim it clean. The jelly thus made will sufficiently sweeten the creams without any additional sugar.
My featured image by the way is of jellies I made for my daughter’s birthday party; it had a beach theme so these are sunbathing jelly babies, beneath a parasol, on a biscuit crumb beach beside a blue raspberry jelly sea!