Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jelly madness.

It's not the biggest secret in the world that I love blogs. All story with them started when I came across the idea to have a personal page on the internet but without going through problems of figuring out how to have your own domain and create a nice place with it on web. The name 'blog' started to pop out, blog platforms appeared, they were accessible for bigger audience then those who was fish and felt like fish in internet waters (nerds). 
I realized how much pleasure I find in reading raw and fresh personal thoughts, seeing pictures, feeling and grabbing a bit of real people and their everyday lives (scary, I sound like a peeping tom!). At that time for me it was like digging in a gold mine and finding crumbs of gold everywhere. Naturally at first I had to go through all that mud and by mud I mean blogs which I didn't like. I have to agree that probably those who said that 99% of blogs were shit and only 1% was worth reading, were right. But what I wasn't satisfied with this phrase was, that it got into account mainly only blogs which could make or made money (it doesn't necessarily mean they were worth my time). But it is a discussion for later. 

Where was I? Ahh, I started to find blogs which I liked, then those led to others and others, and after going into different labyrinths now I read a lot of them, probably even too much. In my reader live blogs about drawing, handcrafting, photography, DIY and all that artsy creative things, but there is also a folder which I gently call 'food porn'. Mostly it is blogs with beautiful pictures of food (some even have recipes), true eye-candies. And one from this category recently got me into trouble (like all porn do). It gave me jelly madness.
This blog is written by a girl called Ai, who lives in Japan and everyday photographs her meals as reminders to cook and keep a track of what she had eaten. Sometimes she talks a bit about movies, her job, little annoying things, nuclear plans, Japanese government and stolen bikes. What always puts a smile on my face is how she's scared of sugar (probably I should be too, yikes!). 
For quite some time now on her blog I was seeing pictures of gorgeous jellies. I was fascinated and that's how a thought of making jelly myself was planted in my head and soon grew up to a real madness. I used to make jellies in the past, but it was just a simple, take flavored colored gelatin, put hot water, mix, put pieces of apples and call it very creative, leave it in the fridge, in the morning eat without much thought, kind of making. This time I wanted something more complicated. Complicated is good. More colors, beautiful forms, more time, more creation. 
I started asking myself where to find nice molds or even how to make my own from the cups and plates which I do have or even bigger plastic playing bricks (I didn't try it though, but haven't let go of this idea yet) using tin foil or plastic food wrap. Other things occupied my mind too: what colors should I use, maybe instead of using normal gelatin I should try to find agar-agar (it is vegetable gelatin and in our shops you can get only normal gelatin made of animal by-products, so you need to use your Sherlock Holmes's skills to spot agar) and what about using milk, yogurt, whipped cream or even condensed milk instead of water.

After thinking phase was over, I waited a bit and one calm Sunday evening I was just in the perfect mood for starting experimenting with jellies. I didn't find any good molds anywhere near, so just picked up simple plastic cups, gelatin with all flavors which shops had to offer - plums, kiwi, oranges, strawberries... It should be the madness right? And got started. 

First I decided to do colorful towers with stripes, but I have to say it didn't go well. Why? It needed a lot of patience. I had it for waiting for each layer to set and only then poured another one, but lacked it at first when measuring gelatin and water. It looked awesome in those cups, but when I tried to take them out it was obvious that I got my first disaster - too little gelatin, they couldn't hold their form and instead of towers what I got was only pieces and little unstable blobs. I have my suspicions that towers were too big to stand without cups, but this theory insists more looking into it. Still first things first, next time when madness will hit me I'll swallow my pride and read basics about finding right amount of water and gelatin and won't rely only on my instincts.

Although my architectural planning and designing caused towers to fall down, I didn't give up on jelly so soon. Internet was my friend and when something doesn't go well you turn to friends.
I was looking for adorable jellies and found one thing which impressed me a lot: orange idea. I wanted to give it a try, but instead of an orange I used a grapefruit, cut it in half, took all insides out with a spoon, sprayed juices all around myself and everything else, poured carefully jelly with poppy seeds in it, cleaned the kitchen from grapefruit juice drops, put it to chill and in the morning saw what I got. It looked fantastic as expected! Genius in simplicity. Didn't I just say that I like complicated? Nah, it was long time ago and not true.

When madness faded away I realized that I learned something and I would like to share:
Madness is madness, it can give you pleasure with waves of chills, at the same time it can be exhausting and nonetheless it will fill your fridge to the top.
If you want interesting jelly you need to have patience and not only waiting for layers to set, but also for finding the right proportions of water, gelatin and sugar (because you can't forget about the taste too).
I need to use way moooore gelatin, that kind of more that it starts to thicken not in the fridge but when it reaches air temperature. Less gelatin means not having strong form and hard to take out of cups without destroying anything. 
A good idea is to save plastic casts when you have eaten a fancy boxes of chocolate, it will give for you nice and interesting forms to play with, especially when it is not easy to find something interesting in the shop.
If you want to use poppy seeds you have to wait a bit when gelatin will start to set but still is a bit runny, you mix them in and put everything into mold. Poppy seeds will spread nicely like this and almost evenly, but if you put right after you dissolved gelatin they will sink to the bottom (unless you want them to).
Never expect to build Eiffel tower at first try. Strike for it, but don't let to disappoint and encourage you when instead of magic creation all you have just hardly a first brick (and Eiffel towers ain't build from bricks, I bet you).


  1. Holy shit, this is genius. I love that I planted the jelly seed in your head, which turned into this! Jelly making is science, innit? I just got a book and a bunch of Monin syrups, so I'd like to keep experimenting with it when I find the time. Thanks for sharing this. You made me laugh out loud. (Yes, I'm afraid of sugar.)

    1. Oh absolutely, I never thought that it is a real rocket science! But it is. I'm not giving up yet too and it is real awesome to hear that you are still trying and searching for ways of making jellies(it gives me so much joy to see your experiments)!

  2. Wow, this is beautiful, I love the idea of adding poppy seeds, do they add flavour too, or are they just for decoration?

    1. at first I used them as a decoration, but when I tasted jelly, noticed that they add a bit of flavor, though it's not very intense and I think they are the best thing when you made your jelly just a bit too sweet - fights the sweetness!


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