“ Brand: Chivers / Type: Jelly „
COST: 35p for 135g (as sold) at my local grocers - price may vary depending on where bought
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per 100g of made-up jelly, which is approximately 2 standard-sized portions):
Glucose-fructose syrup, sugar solution, pork gelatin, citric acid, strawberry juice from concentrate, sodium citrates, flavouring, acetic acid, carmines, beta-carotene
Recently I had a pathalogical urge for something I've not eaten for lots and lots of years; fruity jelly! I really don't know why out of the blue I've suddenly begun to fancy it, as it's not something I crave or even am madly keen on - but I'm a great believer in listening to what my body is telling me it wants, so I trudged through the snow to my local village shop, hoping their generally small stock of food contained a strawberry jelly. I was delighted to find strawberry jelly in stock, in this instance Chivers brand.
Chivers Strawberry Jelly comes in a mostly red foil type packet - not in a little card box like it always used to - which is very bright and appetising-looking in itself. To the left and stretching over the top of the front of the pack is an image of some delicious, plump strawberries with their green stalks still attached. The word "Chivers" is in the centre in white letters on a red shield-type shape, followed by the words "Jelly" and "Strawberry", both in white but on separate lines, placed over the centre of a jelly ready to eat which has been made in a mould and turned out. Underneath that are the words in the opposite order to how they appear above, "Strawberry" and "Jelly", in white again. To the right of the image is a green spoon that has big eyes, plump cheeks, a smiley face, outstretched hands, and the spoon figure is wearing a red tee shirt bearing the word "Chivers" in yellow across the front. The animated spoon looks as if it is hovering above a stray strawberry floating in a white circle.
The back of the wrapper contains basic nutritional information, ingredients and directions on how to make up, using the boiling hot water method (dissolve the cubes in half a pint of boiling water then stir in a pint of cold water - leave to set), and microwave instructions, where you whizz the jelly cubes in a pint-sized microwaveable container on full power for 35-40 seconds, then stir in half a pint of boiling water, and make up to one pint with cold water or a mixture of cold water and ice cubes. To me, it seems simpler to do it by the traditional method, rather than mess around in the microwave. I also question as to how someone could accurately add half a pint's worth of ice cubes and water, bearing in mind it would have to be judged how much water the ice cubes would generate when melted.
Not having made jelly for many, many years, I had to read the instructions carefully, as I didn't want to do it wrong. I fancied making the jelly up with fruit inside, and I sliced quite a few really nice seedless plump green grapes in half, and arranged in a heat-proof container. I did remember a little trick from the long ago distant past, in that I once discovered jelly cubes dissolve a lot quicker and more evenly if, with sharp scissors, the block is cut into cubes following the mark lines, then to cut each individual cube into quarters. It takes a little while, but it means much less stirring trying to dissolve whole jelly cubes. Mine this morning dissolved completely with just a little light stirring, in less than 30 seconds, and within an hour or so in my freezing cold kitchen, it was cool enough to place in the fridge. By evening meal time, the jelly was perfectly set and ready to eat.
I ate my main meal, then thought I'd sample the jelly with grapes inside that I'd made, with just a little drizzle of evaporated milk. I removed the bowl from the fridge, and the jelly had set nicely with the grapes evenly distributed throughout. Taking a spoon, I plunged it into the jelly and relished that lovely sucking, plopping noise it makes - and I served myself an average-sized portion. I then poured just a tiny bit of evaporated milk over the top, watching it turn slightly pink around the edges - and I settled myself to sample this rather childlike treat.
The jelly, as I lifted the spoon to my mouth, gave off a lovely fruity, strawberry smell, not dissimilar to a strawberry flavoured ice lolly. The taste was divine - lovely and cool, refreshing, and just the right consistency - firm, yet melt-in-the-mouth, and though it was sweet, it wasn't overbearingly so. That drizzle of evaporated milk added a richness to the whole effect, and the taste of the grapes blended beautifully with the strawberry taste. It wasn't an authentic strawberry taste in the sense of it being a bowl of real strawberries - but it was authentic from the point of view of strawberry-flavoured things, if you get my meaning. It didn't take me long to eat the serving, and afterwards I sat back happy and contented that I'd satisfied my little longing.
Jelly for me is largely a childhood thing, and reminiscent of the days back in the 1950s and very early 1960s, when the whole extended family would congregate round my aunt & uncle's house. We'd have a huge salad for tea, then when she'd cleared the plates, my aunt would emerge from the kitchen with a tray - and on that tray, would be 2 different flavoured blancmanges and 2 different flavoured jellies - wobbling away. She'd serve them up to us in little glass dessert dishes, accompanied by tinned fruit and evaporated milk, or if she was financially flush at the time, a tiny drizzle of cream. The best bit for us kids (myself and all my cousins) was that the jellies and blancmanges would always be made in bunny rabbit shaped moulds.....so, maybe I had a bit of a back to childhood thing this morning when I had this strange urge for jelly.
I'm glad I did though, as it was delicious.
I'm not sure how Chivers Jelly compares to other brands, except that if my memory serves me correctly, supermarkets' own brands of jelly are only to be made up with ¾ of a pint of water, whereas this one is made up with a full pint, so I consider it possible that pro rata, they work out at about the same price. The supermarkets' own brands are probably a couple of pence cheaper than Chivers, but you get the little extra by making it up with a pint of liquid....that little extra probably breaks even with the few extra pence it costs, so maybe the supermarkets' own brand jellies don't in reality work out cheaper at all? Just a thought.
I certainly will buy Chivers Jelly again if that childlike urge comes upon me once more, as it was very easy to make, tasted delicious, and isn't overly high in calories. The only thing I'm not mad about is the addition of pork gelatin - obviously to give it the correct texture - but why not add something like agar-agar instead, which would make the product suitable for vegetarians and vegans? Otherwise, a truly brilliant product which tastes divine, and I'd highly recommend!
Thanks for reading.