Summer pudding as a jelly

Jelly is one of the most underestimated dishes, at both ends of the menu. The jelly which comes together after nicely cooked veal bones, and pig’s trotters, and chicken feet, and vegetables, is one of the cheapest and best of additions to any meal; and fruit juices, held together with the best leaf gelatine make for a terrific finale.

It’s the texture that gets you first, then the flavour: a roll around the mouth, then fade away feeling, so different from the usual run-of-the-mill tucker. Unfortunately, most of the sweet jelly we have taken in our time has been from packets. Consistency is fine, ease of preparation, fine, but the flavour is not for me. Always too much sugar, and the colours are impossibly artificial.

If you think of jelly as rich in natural flavour, and, through its moulding ability, pretty good to look at, it makes for a wonderful stand-alone ooh and aah finale to a feed. I realised this during yet another summer of sneering at old-fashioned summer pudding, that

English standby of gently compressed seasonal berries held together with bread, soaked with the juices of the berries. They always look attractive, but always let me down because the soaked bread always tastes like … soaked bread.

But the berries, the berries. I couldn’t dismiss it altogether, so I put it in a jelly. Firm but wobbly, all the colours and flavours of a summer pudding, with more guts. You can tell it’s a ripper when you see the jelly — pale, slightly washed out. It couldn’t have been made from a packet.

500ml orange juice — You must produce the juice yourself, either through a juicer, or by hand. It is no-no with bottled or packaged juice. You may as well use packaged jelly.

75g caster sugar

5 leaves gelatine — Don’t use the grain gelatine if you can help it. It tastes like something I can’t put my tongue on — in more ways than one. You can use fewer leaves if you don’t intend unmoulding the jelly, but that does seem rather pointless. One of the delights of this dish is the effect it has on good eaters when you present it to them.

3 punnets of the best quality berries — When in season, you must use raspberries, and even strawberries – banished from the real summer pudding – are great in the jelly.


Bring the juice and the sugar to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, removing any impurities which might rise to the top.


Soften the gelatine in cold water, squeeze out any excess moisture, and add the softened gelatine to the warm juice.


Pack the berries in a mould — preferably metal, so it can be un-moulded easily. If you must use a porcelain mould, run a sharp knife about the edge before unmoulding.


Pour the juice (gelatine added) over the berries and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Unmould and serve with a little cream, ice cream, or cold custard.

WINE — Frontignan or frontignac is an intensely flavoured white grape that makes lovely, raisiny, sweet white wines. In Australia, good styles are made by Brown Brothers, Wolf Blass (Green Label), Krondorf and Orlando.