Mention the word jelly (or jello for the Americans) and watch many people pull their faces in an expression of “urk”. The poor maligned jelly is often associated with hospital desserts for elderly folks who, having no teeth left, can only hope to derive any sort of pleasure from foods that melt or dissolve, or at least yield to mastication by gum. Even the name doesn’t conjure the most appetizing of images in the mind.
This is a great shame. There are many reasons to enjoy jello, and equally varied methods exist to elevate one’s experience from “er, no thanks” to “give me more of that”! As an end-of-meal sweet, it’s hardly the unhealthiest option around, as gelatin is just about 99% protein (although it would take a lot of jelly to meet your daily requirements), and long been used as a home treatment for arthritis. Does it work? We don’t know, but as everyone constantly warns the Ninja Turtle about how bad running is for her knees, there’s not much harm in loading up on jelly as a counter-measure, right?
Vegetarians have alternatives such as pectin, agar, and konjac, but these are much harder to find in a regular French supermarket. In Australia, the Ninja Turtle used to find gelatin in powder form, but the French seem to like them in leaves. The other advantage of making jelly is – it’s not all that hard.
Gin and Kiwi Jelly
2 fresh kiwifruits
Before you begin, it is important to determine how much jelly you wish to make. If the packet says 3 leaves of gelatin for 1 cup (250ml) of water, take into account that the juice and the gin will all add up! For a weaker jelly, a ratio of 5:1 of apple juice : gin will work; for something stronger, go up to 4:1 or 3:1. Heck, go up to 2:1 if you wish (we won’t judge you).
In a large bowl, add gelatin to a little cold water (measure the amount) and let it soften.
Warm some apple juice in a pot.
When the apple juice is hot but not boiling, add it to the gelatin and stir briskly until dissolved.
Add the gin. Always add the alcohol to any hot dish last – if I ever learnt anything useful in chemistry class, it’s that the boiling point of alcohol is 78 degrees Celsius.
Chop in the kiwifruits, and let it chill in the fridge until it sets.