Great British jelly

  • By
    Jenni Muir - Food writer

There's something about that wobble, says jelly fan Jenni

Rhubarb & custard jelly

Jelly is, apparently, back in fashion. Did it ever go out? M&S have always seemed to have jelly pots on the shelves. It was even one of the desserts allowed when people rediscovered the Atkins diet a few years back. But jelly is now also a favourite in trendy restaurants, where it sits neatly on modern British and gastropub menus, and lends itself to experimentation from molecular gastronomes.

Elderflower jellyIt's not so stylish that we're likely to use jelly as table centrepieces, as the Victorians did, anytime soon. But one company has launched a bespoke jelly mould manufacturing service this month (prices start at £300), and its work is used as focal points, to say the least. A jelly of St Paul's Cathedral. An airport with individual planes. London's Millennium Bridge. (I love the idea that Lord Foster would be sitting in his office saying, 'Humph. Call my bridge wobbly? I'll show you a wobbly bridge.') Heston Blumenthal is working with them on his next series, too.

When I was at cookery school, we were told by our otherwise very proper headmistress that jellies should wobble like a fat girl's bottom, and to this day I push the plate back and forth a bit when anything gelled arrives at the table. The Victorians liked the way their jelly centrepieces wobbled whenever someone knocked against the table during dinner parties.

Smoothie jellyBut for me the main appeal is that jellies are so light and refreshing, they round off a meal neatly. And they can be as simple or as complex as you want, made with ready-prepared juices and smoothies, cordials or wine, or from scratch with fresh fruit.

Earlier this year I had a load of Sicilian blood oranges that needed using and eventually settled on a jellied terrine of the sliced fruit, layered with flecks of fresh mint and set with blood orange juice. Served very cold, it was hard to believe it was low calorie. Another favourite jelly combination of mine is pink grapefruit and basil. If I want to make a quick one for red berries, I prefer pomegranate juice to cranberry. What's your favourite?