As kids, most of us ate and loved jelly. As adults, most of us still love the stuff, but we tend to start looking at it as a junk food treat because, let's be real, most jelly on the market is nothing but sugar, gelatin (gelatine), colour, and flavouring. Sometime we'll kid ourselves that we're doing the healthy thing by adding chunks of fruit to it, which is good and makes it a bit more filling and certainly more satisfying, but in reality it's still the same junk food, just with fruit pieces added.

I personally find that Australian jelly brands tend to taste to me like flavoured sugar, which is nice, but I personally prefer to hit up the jelly packet shelf in halal/middle eastern food stores every time I can get to one, because those ones taste more like the fruit flavour it's meant to be, albeit still in a sugary way. But that's just me. Taste is entirely subjective. I prefer the actual taste of fruit, so I decided to start experimenting with making jelly out of actual fruit, without any sugar, and I have, after many both failed and successful attempts, finally found a method that works.

Here's an interesting fact: some fruits contain an enzyme call bromelain or have very similar digestive enzymes. Pineapple, kiwi, fig, mango, papaya, pawpaw, and guava are the most common culprits. Also some non-fruits such as ginger root. I'm sure there's probably other things out there that also have it, but I don't know what they are. This isn't a problem until you want to make jelly with it, because these enzymes will stop the gelatin from gelling. There is a way around this: boil the fruit first. Boiling the fruit breaks down and deactivates the enzymes, and then the fruit can be used to make jelly.

What you need:
A blender or food processor, a saucepan, a stove top, a small cup or bowl, a spoon, a teaspoon measure, whatever you're going to put the jelly in to set (bowls, cups, moulds, whatever), your preferred fresh fruit, cold water, powdered gelatin.

Alternatively, you can use fruit juice instead of fresh whole fruit, but in doing this you may need to very slightly increase the amount of gelatin you're using to get your jelly to set well. If you were so inclined, you could also make a jelly using this method from vegetables and/or herbs; so if mint, pumpkin, tomato, broccoli or any other flavour jelly sounds appealing, give it try. Pretty much anything that is or can be turned into a hot liquid can be used to make jelly, including coffee, milk, tea, or hot chocolate.

Extra optional: If you're going to be using a fruit that tends to brown/discolour quickly, such as apple, consider also adding a little bit of lemon juice in with the fruit, as that can sometimes help such fruit retain it's colour.

Step 1. Liquify the fruit.
Put your preferred fresh fruit (and lemon juice if you're using it) into the blender/food processor, add a small amount of cold water and turn it all into puree. Some fruits contain a lot more water than others, so how much water you need to add is going to vary by how watery your fruit is. Watermelon will need very little added water at all. If your puree is thick and mushy, add more water and give it another blend until it's more liquidy that mushy. You want it to be more like fruit juice and less like baby food, but be mindful of the flavour. You don't want to water it down so much that it doesn't taste rich and fruity anymore, so taste test along the way. Measure how much puree you end up with after it has settled and no longer completely frothy, as this will determine how much gelatin you'll need.

Step 2. Bloom the gelatin.
For every cup of fruit puree that you have created, sprinkle one teaspoon of gelatin powder into a small cup or bowl of cold water and stir it in. If your fruit puree is a bit more thick and mushy because adding more water will destroy the taste, use less gelatin. Let it sit whilst you do Step 3. This allows the gelatin to swell and absorb the water properly. It should end up looking a bit like apple sauce, including having a similar texture. Keep in mind if you're using large quantities, you'll have to consider the amount of water volume in the cup of gelatin as well as the fruit puree. So if you had 7 cups of fruit puree and one cup of water for your gelatin, you'll need 8 teaspoons of gelatin.

Step 3. Boil the fruit puree.
Put your fruit puree into a saucepan and quickly bring it to the boil (NB: If your fruit is exceptionally sour or tart and you do want to sweeten it, this is the time to add sugar or artificial sweetener). Allow it to boil away for about 5 minutes, then take it off the heat and give it a few minutes to settle and cool down a little.


Step 4. Make the jelly.
Whist the fruit puree is still quite hot but well below boiling point, add your little bowl or cup of now bloomed gelatin into the hot fruit puree and stir it in well. Pour your fruit jelly mix into whatever you're going to set it in, allow it to sit and cool a little bit more, then put it in the fridge to set.

Notes about presentation:
1. A foamy "scum" will likely appear on the surface of the jelly. That's okay. It's edible. If you want to remove it, you can either skim it off as the jelly cools, or you can skim it off after the jelly is set.
2. Some fruits that have little seeds, such as strawberry and passionfruit, you'll find the seeds will settle to the bottom of the mould. This can create an awesome visual effect if you're going to upend the jelly out of the mould onto a plate (assuming it's set firm enough to do this with). You can avoid this if you want to by pouring a small amount into the mould, let it set, then pour a little bit more in, let it set, repeat until full. This will layer the seeds through the jelly so they're not all sitting at the bottom. You can speed this process up by putting the mould in the freezer to get it to set faster, just don't leave it in there so long as to allow it to actually freeze.
3. The pulpier parts of the fruit will tend to float towards the top half of the jelly. This can be avoided if you want to do so by layering in the same way as above for seeds.