August 7, 2012 · 4:09 pm

The other day, M arrived home from work with the most incredible bounty of berries and currants that he’d acquired from Cobbs Farm in Hungerford. There were punnets galore of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and red currants.

Not only did they look amazing, but they smelt incredible too. Within a couple of minutes of arriving home, the whole house was filled with the smell of sweet berries. I couldn’t wait to tuck in :)

And the taste? Oh my word. They are so good. The strawberries in particular blew me away. They are, without doubt, the tastiest strawberries I’ve ever come across. I wish you could try them too!

Since berries don’t keep for very long, I froze the majority of the fruit, but I did keep a couple of punnets in the fridge for us to enjoy over the next day or two. 

The following day, Lil’ L and I set to work making some berry jelly (jello).

 Instead of using gelatine (which is a slaughterhouse by-product), we use agar-agar flakes, which are made from a nutrient-rich sea vegetable.

I bought mine from our local health food store (Harvest on Walcot St), but it’s also available from Waitrose.

While shop-bought jelly tends to be laden with refined sugar, artificial colouring and very little (if any) nutritional value, our home-made jellies are made with fresh fruit and fruit juice. These jellies are brimming with antioxidants and vitamins and taste totally lush. They make a great dessert or treat for adults and children alike (Lil L loves them!)

 They’re super easy to make too.

Here’s how we make them…

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Fresh Berry Jelly (Jello) (Vegan / Sugar Free)

Serves: 4
Hands-on time: 10 minutes (+ chilling time) 

Ingredients
1½ tbsp agar agar flakes
½ cup hot water
1 cup fruit juice
1 cup chopped berries
2 tbsp Sweet Freedom Fruit Sweetener or agave syrup (optional, to taste)

Method

  1. Whizz the berries using a stick blender or food processor to make a purée. If you prefer a smooth, pip-free jelly, then sieve the puree and discard the pippy pulp. In a large jug, whisk together the fruit juice and berry puree.
  2. Place the hot water in a pan with the agar agar flakes. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes or so, stirring constantly, until the flakes have dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour in the fruit juice and berry purée and throughly whisk to ensure the ingredients are fully combined. Add liquid sweetener, to taste.
  3. Pour the liquid jelly into bowls, moulds or glasses and refrigerate until set (about 2-4 hours).

Variations
- To make a simple fruit juice jelly, replace the cup of berries with another cup of fruit juice.
-If you wish, you can add whole fruits or fruit slices (e.g fresh raspberries or peach slices) to the jelly. I’ve heard that kiwi and pineapple contain enzymes that prevent the agar agar from setting, so avoid these fruits.

We’re also using the berries to make Triple Berry Milk Shakes. They are so lush! Into the blender goes…

- 1 cup Alpro Almond milk
- 1 cup sliced berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries) (I tend to use a mix of fresh and frozen berries so that the shakes are nice and cool)
- 2 tbsp Alpro plain soya yoghurt
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (for a nutrient boost)
- drizzle of agave syrup

We pulse the ingredients for a few seconds to break up the fruit, then whizz them on high speed for a couple of minutes.

Lately, we’ve also made lots of fresh fruit (dairy free) ice cream, frozen yoghurt, and fresh fruit jelly sweets (recipes and photographs coming soon). All yummy, healthy desserts and treats :)

I was so impressed with the fruit from Cobbs Farm and I’m really looking forward to visiting the farm in person.  I read on their website that you can either buy the fruits from their farm shop or go and pick your own. They also have a deli, vineyard and a cafe that serves coffees, cakes, cream teas and Sunday lunches.  Sounds like a great place to spend a Sunday!

I hope you’re all having a great summer so far.  The Olympics have been fantastic haven’t they? Are you inspired to take up any new sport? I fancy trying beach volleyball … but I’m wondering whether the skimpy knickers are compulsory. I’m way too old to rock that look ;)

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  • http://www.mynaturallyfrugalfamily.blogspot.com/ Rachel@MyNaturallyFrugalFamily

    Oh my the colors are you just so vibrant. I have been wanting to try agar agar (to avoid the use of gross gelatin) looks like it sets up quite nicely.
    The smoothie though has got to be my favorite of the two. Is the smoothie one of the 15 that Lil’ L wanted to make?
    He will be following in his mom’s footsteps and creating cookbooks before long :)

    • http://www.bitofthegoodstuff.com Sharon

      Agar agar sets really well, though the texture is very different to gelatine jelly/jello (not sure which term you use in the US) … it’s firm, but not wobbly. You can even make ‘jelly sweets’ by increasing the ratio of agar agar to liquid (I’ll post the recipe soon).

  • Markio

    Fruity! Looking forward to Olympic BMX this afternoon (and would love to ride the course when the Games are finished….)