This post is actually a bit of a swizz. Sorry. I made this a week ago, but I knew I would be away at the weekend (Dilston Physic Garden, since you ask), so scheduled this post to go on today. My real day 13 will involve going to a Herbology Room (yeah that’s right) and learning about herbal medicines, rather than stewing the foot of a cow. Sozbad.
Anyhow, I’d read a recipe for making your own jelly in ‘Odd Bits’ from the great Jennifer McLagan. I had also seen cow feet for sale at the African butcher. 2 + 2 = four jellies, or something. The first thing you need to do is ask your butcher if you can have/they can get you one or two feet of a cow. They come hairless. And are also naturally meatless. The butcher should use their band saw/cleaver to cut them into pieces for you. I just got one foot. Here is my big bag of bones:
It was pretty heavy in all honesty. Need to invest in a granny trolley for Bone Shopping Trips.
So to make jelly from scratch, it’s pretty easy and basically involves stages of boiling and straining. I’d never done this before and was slightly haunted by something I read in a Jacqueline Wilson book where the vegan mother of a step-daughter made her seaweed jelly from scratch when she was ill and proper jelly was what the child wanted, but the step-mother wouldn’t compromise on her values and well the seaweed jelly from scratch wasn’t a hit. I don’t remember the book. Anyway, I didn’t want to be the person making bad jelly from good morals.
IF YOU HAPPEN TO TRY THESE INSTRUCTIONS, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF KEEPING/DISCARDING THE JUICE. IT CHANGES. I FEEL CAPITALS ARE NECCESSARY.
- Put feet in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Strain. Keeping the bones. Discard the juice.
- Return to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for four hours. Strain and RESERVE LIQUID. Leave in bowl to cool.
- When cool, skim fat from surface.
- Measure your liquid. Put into clean pan.
- For every 1 pint of liquid you have – add 3 ounces sugar and 90ml extra liquid (i.e. orange juice for flavour). The extra liquid is not compulsory. Other ways to add flavour include zesting oranges and lemons, adding essences, essential oils, grating fruit in (but not pineapple or kiwi as they don’t set i believe), and so on. I added 90ml orange juice and grated 4 big strawberries in.
- Once you’ve added juice and fruit and whatevers, then add the white of one egg and it’s crushed shell. NO YOLK. (Do you see what I did there?)
- Bring to the boil, whisking. When boils set aside for ten minutes to settle.
- Now strain through a clean tea towel or muslin cloth.
- (Optional second* boiling and finer straining will make jelly clearer – just repeat 7 and 8).
- Refrigerate until needed.
What I should have done, was DEFINITELY DONE the second fine straining. I didn’t so the jellies were quite cloudy. What none of us anticipated was that the bones give it a slightly milky taste. So the strawberry jelly tasted like strawberry milkshake jelly. It was nice. The other thing I learnt, was that fresh jelly doesn’t keep as long as normal. I took one to work a few days later and it was totally BLEURGH.
Would I make it again? Yes. But for a special occasion and try a more grown up flavour – maybe like hazelnut or almond? Any ideas for jelly flavours? I might try an elderflower or a hawthorn flower … I think a second straining might remove most of that milkiness, so a delicate flavour would work I’m sure. The consistency of the jelly was super velvety.
*but not really since you should definitely do it