top of page
  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Grape Jelly Part 2

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas OCTOBER. 17, 2020

[73-365] 17th. October 2020- Grape Jelly update as promised. They were not idle threats from my neighbour, the vineyard owner, the grapes appeared on the doorstep this morning in a large blue bucket. This is the after photo not the before, in case you were worried. The grapes themselves are now secure in my freezer and in hibernation until later next week when I scale up to full production.

Beryl, if you have been keeping up is not my neighbour, but she is an old fashioned sort of girl, who wrote the recipe book I use. The recipe in her book is non-metric so I seem to have just over 6 Lbs of grapes and I'm not sure what that equates to in jars. Having made blackberry jelly before I do know that with jelly you don't get the same quantity of finished product that you get when making jam, because jelly is filtered in a jelly bag by a jelly chef who goes home at night to his jelly wife and jelly babies.

This is a segue, in case you were wondering, this segue enables me to get from jam making to the history of a great old British confectionary product.

Jelly Babies are a type of soft sugar jelly sweet, shaped as plump babies, in one variety of colours. They were first manufactured in Lancashire, England, in the nineteenth century. Their popularity waned in England, before being revived by Bassett's, of Sheffield, in Yorkshire, who were responsible for mass producing Jelly Babies, from 1918. “Jelly Babies” are known at least since advertisements by Riches Confectionery Company of 22 Duke St, London Bridge in 1885, along with a variety of other baby sweets, including 'Tiny Totties' and 'Sloper's Babies'. But the pricing of these at a farthing each suggests that they were very much larger than the modern Jelly Baby.

The sweets were invented in 1864, by an Austrian immigrant, working at Fryers of Lancashire, and were originally marketed as “Unclaimed Babies”. By 1918, they were produced by, Bassett's in Sheffield, as “Peace Babies”, to mark the end of World War I. Production was suspended during World War II, due to wartime shortages. The product was relaunched as “Jelly Babies” in 1953. (Wikipedia)

A farthing was a quarter of an old penny. I can see why "Unclaimed Babies" didn't catch on can't you?

When you filter fruit for jelly you lose all the fruit pulp itself and are left with the essence. I have already lost the stalks and a couple of spiders as you can see from today's photo.

This is all in the compost bin now. I think the spiders made a quick escape, at least I hope they did, or they are in the freezer too, soon to become jelly spiders themselves.

My only question is whether to use jam sugar which contains pectin or plain sugar plus liquid pectin. The problem is that the recipe is a bit vague, saying one third of a bottle of pectin with 1 lb of fruit. It doesn't mention what size the bottle is, so I haven't got a clue. I may have to do a bit of research before I go down that avenue.

If you have not made jam before, pectin is what causes it to set and some fruit have their own good supply, like oranges and some don't, like grapes.

Pectin- Pectin is a structural acidic heteropolysaccharide contained in the primary and middle lamella and cell walls of terrestrial plants. Its main component is galacturonic acid, a sugar acid derived from galactose. It was first isolated and described in 1825 by Henri Braconnot.

Heteropolysaccharide is not my Word of the day, I wouldn't do that to you. Galactose, sounds like space travelling big feet, how many Galac Toes would you need to have for space travel?

Lamella - is my Word of the day- A lamella (plural lamellae) is a small plate or flake, from the Latin, and may also be used to refer to collections of fine sheets of material held adjacent to one another, in a gill-shaped structure, often with fluid in between though sometimes simply a set of 'welded' plates.

So I am guessing lamination and laminate have the same origin as they are a film or sheet laid over a substrate.

Henri Braconnot (May 29, 1780, – January 13, 1855), was a French chemist and pharmacist. Presumably before he isolated pectin it was not available as a separate ingredient and all jams and jellies would have needed a fruit added that did contain pectin. I know apples were used in this way. I once made Rosehip Jelly which was made with added apples to help it set.

At 13, he was placed as apprentice in a pharmacy in Nancy where he learned and practiced pharmacy, chemistry, and botany. At 15, he left Nancy for a military service in an hospital in Strasbourg.

So by the age of 15 he had already been working as a pharmacist for two years. No gap years back then. This reminds me of a favourite joke. The son has left school and the father asks him what he is going to do. Son says I am going to take a year out. Incredulous the father says, take a year out? You haven't taken a year in yet.

Among other things, Braconnot discovered gallic and ellagic acids (1818) and pyrogallic acid (pyrogallol) which later enabled the development of photography.

This made me wonder the following. If nobody had ever discovered chemical photography how would that have affected history, what subsequent developments would not have happened, what would a world without photography have been like, and would digital photography ever have been invented and at what point? Or was the development of the photograph just inevitable?

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page