Sunday, 1 August 2010

Jelly vs Jelly

In the yellow corner we have
Hartley's lemon flavour jelly.
40p a packet at Sainsbury's

In the other yellow corner we have home made lemon jelly
Needs a few more ingredients than the Hartley's and a bit more equipment, oh it costs more too, about £1:60 for the amount of ingredients used.

The packet jelly goes in the jug with 100ml of water and into the microwave for a minute, the water & molten jelly don't really mix, so when you make it upto 500ml (or a UK pint) you have to stir it a fair bit to get an even mixture. Then you pour it into your moulds and put it in the fridge, total time ?About 4 minutes. Over in the real jelly corner the first job is a simple sugar syrup. 125ml of boiling water gets 125g of sugar dumped in and stirred till its all dissolved. Actually I let it stand and stirred in between my juicings. The sharp eyed amongst you will have spotted an orange, this has 2 uses. 1 it dilutes the citric acid from the lemons.
Second it improves the colour, giving you a strong yellow, rather than a vaguely murky translucence. That's the jelly liquid on the left ready for actual jelling.  First of cut up 5 leaves of good gelatin and then just cover them with your jelly liquid. They are going to sit there softening for about 10mins. Whilst that's happening bring a pan of water upto simmer. The bowl with the softened gelatine is going to sit on that till all the jelly dissolves (another 10 mins) once that is done stir in the rest of the liquid. Pour through a sieve and or a strainer into your moulds and put it into the fridge. All the hard work is now done, spend the next few hours doing other things and not frequently going in the fridge to see how your Jellies are doing.

At this point I think its worth pointing out that the Hartley's jelly uses no artificial flavourings or colourings. Look at the packet closely and you'll see its lemon flavoured jelly. It doesn't use any lemons either. The citric acid might come from them I guess and the coyly named "natural flavourings" may use lemon oils, but the colour comes from beta-carotene and curcumin, thats carrots & tumeric to us. Here are the end results.

That's Hartley's on the left, and mine on the right. They are obviously quite different looking, fortunately a brave volunteer offered to do a blind tasting.

It probably comes as no surprise that the packet jelly didn't fare to well, at first it appeared to have a more subtle flavour than the home made jelly. On a second tasting this was declared to be a lack of flavour. The home made jelly packs a hefty citrus punch and has a much longer finish (and greater depth). Pretty much all my taste testers preferred the home made one. I'm not bothered by the fact its 4x dearer or that it takes about 10x as long to make, it is a glorious lemony summer dessert.

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