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How do I make lovely jellies?

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Ramona Andrews Ramona Andrews | 17:30 UK time, Wednesday, 25 August 2010

This week's The Food Programme went wobbly about the wonderful world of jelly and celebrated its recent revival. Innovators like "jellymongers" Sam Bompas and Harry Parr have been showing off what a gelling agent, a computer-modelled mould and quite a few hours of setting time can create... slice of jellied St Paul's Cathedral anyone? Thanks to Greta Ilieva for the use of the image.


Jelly wasn't always about convenience foods in packets. In Victorian times jellies were an impressive centrepiece in all their slightly naff glory.  So now it's all about reclaiming the sophisticated side to jelly...

The student staple of super-strong vodka jelly in shot glasses is pretty grim, but go for barely boozy flavours and refined fruit suspended in jelly and you can't go wrong. Try Valentine Warner's seasonal sensation of sloe gin and blackberry jelly, Jamie Oliver's stunning summer fruit, elderflower and proscecco jelly, Bompas and Parr's Cognac and blackcurrant jelly or Antony Worrall Thompson's sparkling raspberry jelly.

sparklingjelly.jpgBe as inventive as you like with moulds - you can use ice cube trays, wine glasses and (clean!) buckets, or buy strange-shaped moulds online, like London Underground signs, rabbits or brains. Just stick to Bompas and Parr's simple sum of Liquid + Gelling Agent = Jelly.

Savoury jelly also has a history in British kitchens - and we're not just talking the edges of pork pies or 70s-style aspic-set fish, meat or poultry dishes. Take this rather retro jellied eggs recipe by Mark Hix.

The French traditionally enjoy jellied consommé, while the Japanese use konjak for sweet and savoury jellies. Speaking of veggie versions, if you don't want bones in your jelly, seaweed is the way to go: look out for agar-agar and carageenan. I've used agar-agar and found you can get a rather delicate effect if you're not too generous with the gelling agent.

Have you embraced the wobbly revival or have you always had a belly for jelly?

Ramona Andrews is the host of the BBC Food Q&A blog and messageboard.


  • Comment number 1.

    Jelly was never very fashionable in his household, until I made a summer pudding jelly a few years back with cassis and sparkling rose. Now a clear favourite, served with lemon curd and elderflower ice cream.

    I have never made or eaten a savoury jelly - perhaps now is the time to try.

    Love the links. Very informative.

  • Comment number 2.

    The only type of jelly that is made at home lemon, with a bit of vodka.

  • Comment number 3.

    I was surprised to discover that alcohol does NOT make it hard for jellies to set. I suppose the fact that it reduces freezing point significantly makes one think the effect will carry over to soliodification generally.

    I had some contact with Sam Bompas. Very helpful chap.

  • Comment number 4.

    Got very used to jelly as a dessert when losing weight (sugar free of course!) I like to do raspberry jelly with raspberries in it and instead of using cold water to top it up, I use a raspberry sparkling lemonade to add flavour and a bit of fizz. Went down very well at my weight loss group.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thank you for this blog post, Ramona. It was very interesting, particularly the variety of uses that you mentioned. I haven't made jelly for years! Perhaps I should try some adult versions now.

  • Comment number 6.

    I often serve alcoholic jellies as a dessert when I have a dinner party. I have been bookmarking/saving newspaper articles by top chefs and have some fantastic recipes now. I think my favourite is Heston's Kir Royale, he explains how to keep all the bubbles in the jelly - amazing. Everyone who has tasted it has said Wow - how do you do that(or words to that effect)

    I am still surprised how many people (adults) love jelly.

  • Comment number 7.

    That sloe ginand blackberry jelly is out of this world - don't forget you can make your own sloe gin easily for a fraction of the price of brand name (not so tastey) versions


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