Product Type: Just Wholefoods Dessert / Yoghurts
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A cow free jelly
Just Wholefoods Raspberry Jelly Crystals
Member Name: ryeb
Just Wholefoods Raspberry Jelly Crystals
Advantages: A vegan jelly made using natural colours and flavours, sets well [with patience!]
Disadvantages: Packet instructions don't give a setting time, taste isn't as strong as scent but it is still nice
My dad recently had a throat operation, which meant he has needed to eat soft and easy to swallow things. My mum recommended jelly, having had a operation in the same region. I wanted to make one that the whole family could eat, which meant looking for a product that doesn't contain beef gelatine or non vegetarian colourings. I found what I was looking for in a local health food shop - Just Wholefoods Raspberry Jelly crystals.
I have bought a number of items from the Just Wholefoods company in the past, as they specialise in vegetarian foods made without unwanted additives. Many of their products are also organic, although as the jelly crystals aren't labelled as such, I presume they are not. I have previously tried a strawberry jelly mix but on the most recent occasion I opted for raspberry. You can also buy tropical and lemon variants.
As you can tell from the product name, this jelly mix doesn't come in the familiar tablet that needs melting. Instead it comes in the form of crystals, which look a bit like lemonade crystals or pinky sugar granules. I dont' think there is any real advantage or otherwise to this format over the other, unless you want to use just a small amount of jelly. I remember my mum sometimes made desserts for us that used just a cube or two of jelly amongst other things, and it would have been more fiddly to measure out small quantities of the crystals.
The crystals come in a strong plastic sachet that is best cut open. I found it too hard to pull it apart at the seams, and I had visions of it suddenly bursting open and showering my kitchen with powder. Thankfully, opening the packet was the hardest part of the preparation. All I had to do was empty the crystals into a jug, and then pour on enough boiling water too make it up to a pint. You are then required to stir the crystals until they dissolve, which took longer than I expected. Just when I thought I had get rid of them all and stopped stirring, more became visible falling to the bottom of the jug. Nevertheless, the whole process only took a couple of minutes. It was a pleasant experience as I was able to enjoy the strong, natural scent of raspberries coming from the jug. The crystals were pale when I first tipped them out, but as soon as they were covered with water, they became an attractive deep but vibrant pink. Only natural colourings are used, which makes the colour all the more appealing!
Once all had melted, I had to simply tip the jelly into a mould and refrigerate it. I decided to use a traditional thick glass jelly mould, but you could also use a pudding bowl. The instructions did not give me an idea as to how long I should leave the jelly to set. This would have been annoying if I had wanted to have it ready for a particular time, such as a childrens party, but as I was making it in the morning for tea in the afternoon, I wasn't too worried. After an hour, the surface had set well and it seemed quite solid underneath. So I thoughtlessly turned it out, even though experience should have told me I had not left it long enough. It held it's shape beautifullly for a few seconds then slowly began collapsing on the serving plate. Luckily I remembered someone telling me that you could re-boil jelly that hadn't set properly, so I did. I then poured it back into the mould and left it alone for 2 and a half hours. This time it really was perfectly set. It slid easily out of the mould in one piece, and kept that way! When the time came to divide it up, it cut easily. I have to say it looked and smelled delicious.
I had a small portion, courtesy of the patient, and I liked the natural taste. It is easy to tell exacty what flavour it is supposed to be but the overall taste was gentler than I thought it would be from the scent. It isn't too sweet, which is good if you want to combine it with something that is! Jelly isn't my favourite dessert, but I would have this one again, and my dad is working his way through the other flavours so he obviously enjoyed it. My main concern was how a jelly without the traditional setting agents would gel together, but I have learned that the crystals work just as well as gelatine, providing you are more patient than I was at first!
I paid 95p for a 85g packet that makes a 1 pint jelly. You can buy the crystals in Holland and Barret for the same price, and some supermarkets, where they are in the free-from aisle usually. I would recommend them to anyone who doesn't want a jelly full of artificial colours and flavourings whether vegetarian or not. They are also suitable for vegans.
[This review also appears on Ciao under the same user name, and on my friends veggie blog with my permission.]
Summary: A tasty jelly suitable for vegans and vegetarians