Joyous Jellies!

Aug 20, 2011

As I was clearing off the DVR and catching up on old episodes of The Martha Stewart Show, I spotted an episode description that said “Jelly Mongers”. I’ve been in a canning mood this summer, so I figured this would be something informative for me to watch. Well, it turns out that it WAS very informative, but it also turned out to NOT be about canned jelly. Of course, the “jelly” referred to was Jell-O basically. I know from my studies of culinary history (and endlessly watching British movies and TV shows) that at one time (as far back as the Victorian era) jelly was VERY popular across the pond. Even here in the U.S. gelatin had its time in the sun, but I think that ended at about the time I was born (the late 70’s) and the Technicolor jigglers are now pretty much the domain of toddlers and drunken college girls. When I was small, I remember my father being the king of fancy Jell-O. He would float all manner of chopped fruits in the green and orange goo. He had this Tupperware mold in the shape of a ribbed bowl that had interchangeable disks at the bottom. Once the gel had set and the mold was inverted, you would have any number of holiday related symbols set into the top of your dessert. It was really rather neat, but I have no idea what happened to that bowl. I use decorative copper molds that cost me between 50 cents to $1 each at thrift stores.

vintage jellies

On the Martha episode, they made, even more, fancy combinations than anything my father tried. The two Jelly Mongers, Harry Parr & Sam Bompas, even create their own molds. Even though the guys weren’t as friendly to Martha as I would have liked, I still loved their work and wanted to try one for myself. Of the two recipes they shared on the show, I chose to make the Champagne & Summer Fruit Wedding Jelly over the Raspberry & Crème Ribband Jelly. You can watch the segment about these here. If you like the idea of making some really creative jelly molds as much as I do, you can check out their book, Jelly Mongers: Glow-in-the-Dark Jelly, Titanic Jelly, Flaming Jelly (9781402784804 – Sterling Epicure). I see a million cool books around the web, but I think I might actually have to add this one to my birthday list!

Jelly Mongers

For our experiment we used very cheap champagne; I think the bottle cost $5.99. I wasn’t about to waste the good stuff if this happened to not work out for the best! We were also unable to locate the gelatin sheets that they used on the show. I used 2 packages of unflavored gel powder per 2 cups of liquid. The only fruits we had on hand at the time were raspberries and blueberries, so we used a lot of those to compensate for not having any strawberries. We don’t have a dome mold like the one used, so I used one of my ring molds.

Loving Husband had to open the bottle for me, but I did hand squeeze the lemon juice myself. Even though we strained the juice, it was still cloudy, which gave the finished mold a slightly cloudy look. To spite the cloudiness, the light from the window still looked great going through it and it held together so well! I am so proud of how it turned out! It tastes AWESOME! There are sweet and tart tastes at the same time. We even have enough champagne left over for mimosas in the morning!

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