Blackcurrant jelly

Serves 6

I love home-made jelly. My mother used to make a simple orange jelly, laced with cut-up strawberries: cool and soft, it would slip down our throats on hot summer evenings. This jelly is quite grown-up in taste. We flavour it with a little lemon verbena from the garden – but if you find this difficult to find, you can leave it out. The flavour will still be lip-smackingly tart, yet quite sweet at the same time.

180g/6oz sugar
500ml/17fl oz water
A few sprigs of lemon verbena
31/2 sheets of leaf gelatine
4 punnets of blackcurrants

To serve (optional)

Pouring cream
A few handfuls of blackberries and raspberries

Pick over the blackcurrants well, removing any little stems and bases, and rinse well under cold water. Place the blackcurrants, sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan.

Add the lemon verbena, and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat slightly and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the blackcurrants have burst and the sugar has dissolved. Stir once or twice to help dissolve the sugar.

Remove the blackcurrants from the heat and allow to cool slightly. While this is happening, immerse the gelatine in a bowl of cold water and leave to soften. Once the blackcurrant mixture has cooled, pass it through a strainer, pressing firmly on the fruit using a wooden spoon to extract as much juice as possible.

Remove the gelatine from the water, squeeze to remove any liquid, then add to the warm blackcurrant syrup. Stir well to combine and strain again. Divide the jelly into four attractive vessels and leave to cool. Once cooled, place the jellies in the fridge to set – this should take no more than a couple of hours.

Serve straight from the fridge, on its own or with a little pouring cream and a bowl of blackberries and raspberries.

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