My dear ole grandma has many fantastic qualities, she’s eternally optimistic, she’s everyone’s friend, she has been a stalwart of her community wherever she’s lived. But goodness me, she can’t cook. I have vivid memories of, after spending half an hour trying to shred apart a dry grey piece of unidentifiable meat, being served a dessert of tinned apricots, a slice of custard and a slice of jelly. I still don’t know how she managed that, I’ve made jelly from a a packet and not had it turn into skin all the way through. She has never been able to explain it herself and long ago gave up making jelly. I wonder if she’d like what I made today? I’ll have to take her some next time I visit.
I have some nude citrus fruit lying around, as I often do, as a result of finding the peel more useful that the insides. In this case I had made a new batch of candied peel for my next lot of fruitcakes, leaving with a naked pink grapefruit and defrocked oranges. My helpful hairdresser suggested slicing them in half, applying a citrus juicer to them and drinking the results, but I always think that it’s a lot of effort to go to to be consumed in seconds. It was time to try something I’d been meaning to for ages, turning them into jelly.
Half the fun in trying something new is trawling the interwebs for recipes. You get such an insight into other cultures, particularly the ever fascinating Americans. They tend to use pectin for their jellies, and using fresh juice doesn’t seem to happen very often. I don’t know if they don’t have as much access to fresh fruit, but most recipes I saw involved the sweetened and the concentrated. However, it wasn’t nearly as complex as I’d always thought. I was pointed in the right direction by an article in The Guardian. What an article full of inspiration that was. The author claimed to have once made an entire Christmas dinner in jelly form. There’s a thing to make you go hmmm.
Get yourself a packet of gelatin leaves and try to shake off that uneasy feeling you get when something is measured in quantities so far from SI as leaves. Measure how much juice you have. One pink grapefruit and two oranges gave me a cup of juice. Tip it into a bowl with three cut up gelatin leaves. Go hang out the washing and deflea the dogs. Come back and put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. I went with my gut feeling and added two tablespoons of sugar, because things don’t taste as sweet when they’re cold. Leave it to heat up for about five minutes. Stir it occasionally to see how much the gelatin has dissolved. When it has completely dissolved, remove from heat and strain into another bowl, which you will place in the fridge and not poke for at least four hours.
It’s divine. I can’t believe how good it tastes. It’s a very soft jelly, you wouldn’t want to leave it out of the fridge for long. I don’t think I should tell the children about it. That’s started a whole new thing for me. First syrups, then sorbet, now jellies. What else have I been missing out on?