I recently spent the most delightful weekend on a Victorian jelly-making course hosted by the incredible food historian Ivan Day at his farmhouse in the Lake District. Ivan has been a tremendous inspiration for me, I love his passion for bringing back to life the forgotten food of the past in the most enthusiastic way imaginable. I have been obsessed by Victorian jellies ever since I saw images on Ivan’s website a few years ago. I couldn’t believe how visually exciting these decadent edible masterpieces were: worlds away from the lurid Chivers jelly rabbits that populated early birthday parties growing up in Ireland.
I use jellies at every opportunity for my events. They make the most beautiful centerpieces and an interesting alternative to flowers: stunning to look at, slightly quivering and delicious. I love that the Victorians had edible table decorations, beautiful and indulgent but still incredibly practical. Guests could eat as well as admire the centre pieces on the table.
The copper moulds that are used to make the jelly are in their own right the most beautiful objects. Ivan has a staggering collection and on the jelly-making weekend we used original moulds from the 1750s including the rare Belgrave, Brunswick Star and Alexandra Cross moulds. It was an unforgettable learning process and amazing to experience first hand the equipment and methods of a bygone time.