This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Jellies for the convalescent give benefit chiefly by the gelatin which is their basis. It is a leading constituent of young animal flesh, veal, calf's foot, trotter, etc., in its connective tissue. Likewise it occurs purely in isinglass from the swimming bladder of fish, especially the sturgeon. Gelatin is soluble in boiling water, easily digested, and has the advantage of fixing the acids during digestion, being thus of service in cases with an excess of gastric juice. But the main value of gelatin is as an economiser of primitive food-substance (proteid). Whilst not a food of itself, it materially enhances the nutritiveness of other products with which its combination occurs. Jellies are thereby fundamentally improved, so that the old-fashioned notion of calf's foot jelly is founded on a substantially useful fact, as regards its sustaining properties. Such jelly also supplies sustenance by its sugar. Bones are a common source of gelatin, but dog's fed exclusively on ground bones have failed to survive; it being thus proved that gelatin alone cannot maintain life, and that plain jellies are not of themselves substantial food. Nevertheless, light animal jellies are of distinct service for the delicate invalid.
Several varieties, such as hartshorn jelly, ivory jelly, sick room jelly (Francatelli's), and brown bread jelly, are formulated in Kitchen Physic. Likewise, milk jelly, vaseline jelly, apple jelly, and meat jelly, are to be commended under varying bodily requirements.
Isinglass is the purest form of commercial gelatin, the best being prepared from the sounds, or air bladders of fish, whilst that of a second rate quality is made from clean scraps of hide, from skins, hoofs and horns; also in Bengal from some seaweeds. There are "lyre," "leaf," and "book" isinglass. When combined with brandy, isinglass makes an excellent cement for mending broken china. Isinglass of good quality contains osmazome, gelatin, and some salts of potash, soda, and lime. It is emollient, and demulcent, and serves as a useful subsidiary nutriment for the invalid, whether added to milk, broth, or made into a jelly. Boil an ounce of isinglass, and a dozen cloves, in a quart of water down to a pint, strain hot through a flannel bag on to two ounces of sugar candy, and flavour with a little angelica, or with two or three teaspoonfuls of some approved liqueur. For an isinglass jelly, to be given in dysentery, or chronic diarrhoea: dissolve one ounce of isinglass in a pint of water over the fire, add an ounce of white sugar, and a pint of good port wine, strain through muslin, and allow it to set.
The old name Icthyocolla is derived from icthus, a fish, and holla, glue.
Strange as it may seem, a clear day is usually much better for making fruit jellies than a cloudy one, because the atmosphere affects the boiling of the sugar. Blanc mange prepared now-a-days with milk and some starch such as of corn flour, so as when boiled, and having become cold, to form an opaque jelly, was originally a soup, composed of consomme of lean meat, with milk of almonds, and spiced with cinnamon, or cloves, or made from roast fowl, minced, and pounded, or veal treated in like manner. If properly supplied in our modern way, it should be a jelly prepared from calf's foot, or gelatin, with milk of almonds. The word jelly was formerly gelly, as signifying gelatus, congealed, or frozen with cold. For making a meat jelly: Take half an ounce of gelatin, and dissolve it in half a tea-cupful of cold water. Cut the meat from half a chicken, cut up half a pound of veal, and half a pound of gravy beef, and put all these into a saucepan, with half a pint of cold water, and a little salt. Stand it at the side of the fire, and simmer slowly. Put the chicken bones, and any bones from the veal, into another saucepan, covering them with cold water, and let them boil gently for three or four hours. Pour the liquor from both saucepans into a basin, and add the dissolved gelatin.
Strain two or three times through muslin until quite clear, then pour into a mould, rinsed previously out of cold water, and put the jelly aside in a cold place to set.
Calves' feet, free from bone, yield twenty-five per cent of gelatin on boiling, therefore they are well known for affording abundant substance for a pure jelly; but we find that the cost of procuring the jelly in this way from the feet is sixteen times as much as to use good commercial gelatin for the purpose. It is better to add such gelatin to plain good stock (as of chicken) than to boil up veal or calves' feet for the jelly, which of itself is poor nutriment. Ordinary jellies can only be regarded as dear foods, and the calf's foot jelly of the shops yields no building material at all.
For milk jelly: Take one pint of milk, half an ounce of gelatin, and one ounce of white sugar. Boil up the milk, and add the sugar; dissolve the gelatin in a little milk, or water; heat this up, and put it with the sweetened milk; cool a little, and pour into a wetted mould in a cool place; turn out when set. Vaseline jelly, or petroleum jelly, makes an admirable intestinal anti-putrescent, and destroyer of microbes within the digestive tract; it is also demulcent in some way, even although taken up but sparingly as a food. Indeed, Dr. Hutchison contends that the petroleum when swallowed in this form can be discovered finally in the foecal excrement which passes out of the bowels. If made into an emulsion with cream, the petroleum is found to defeat alcoholic, lactic, and butyric fermentation, preventing any self-poisoning by noxious matters absorbed into the blood from the bowels. The purest petroleum is white vaseline.
Tea Jelly And Coffee Jelly, though affording but little nourishment, are of a revivifying character, and frequently of service to the invalid. For the former: Soak half an ounce of good gelatin (Nelson's) in half a pint of water for an hour, so as to quite dissolve it; then add a breakfastcupful of strong, clear, fragrant tea, just made; sweeten to taste, and put into the mould for setting, adding perhaps a little cognac, if expedient. Coffee jelly may be prepared in like manner, whilst substituting strongly-made fresh coffee instead of the tea infusion. Whipped cream, if served with these jellies, will make them more nourishing.
For apple shape jellied, take one pound of (rennet) apples, one pound of sugar, three quarters of an ounce of gelatin, and a little seasoning of lemon peel, or clove. Add a teacupful of water to the sugar, and boil for five minutes. Cut the apples neatly into quarters, core them, and stew into the syrup until quite clear. Take out the apples and put them nicely into a buttered mould. Soak the gelatin and add it to the syrup, then let it boil a little, and when slightly cooled pour into the mould. Turn out when cold, and serve with whipped cream if allowed. An apple jelly has little or no perfume of its own, and therefore it may be pleasantly, as well as usefully, flavoured with orange flowers, orange, quince, cherries, or rose water.
Cherry Jelly is a delicate confection for a capricious stomach liable to nausea. Crush the succulent cherries, and take out the stones, except from about one-eighth part of the fruit used; these stones should be bruised, and left, so as to impart a sufficient taste of almonds to the jelly; they should be strained out before cooling. But Cherries possess pectin, or solidifying juice, only to a small extent; therefore a quarter of the same weight of red currants should be added. Put the whole into a preserving pan with rather less sugar than fruit, but using an equal weight of each if the Cherries are watery, or very acid; bring up to the boil, and keep it at this for a quarter of an hour; then pour the contents of the preserving pan on a sieve over an earthenware dish, and allow them to drain. When the mass in the sieve is sufficiently cooled, squeeze the remaining juice out by wringing in a cloth; next put the juice into the preserving pan again, bringing it up to the boil, and keep it at this until the jelly has reached the proper degree of consistence; then take it off the fire, let it cool a little, and fill the pots.
For Blackberry Jelly, take two pounds of Blackberries, a quarter of a pound of white sugar, and half an ounce of gelatin; extract the juice from the fruit by putting it in the oven in a jar for a few hours, then strain through a muslin bag placed over a colander. Soak half an ounce of Gelatin in a little water, and add this to the Blackberry juice, with a quarter of a pound of white sugar, and boil all for half an hour. Put it into a wet mould, and turn out the next day. The same recipe will serve for preparing Mulberry jelly, whilst making use of this fruit instead of Blackberries.
Ginger Jelly, which is excellent as a stomachic adjunct to stewed fruits, may be readily made by adding extract of the root (see "Ginger") to water sweetened to taste, and into which when boiling a quarter of an ounce of Gelatin is stirred so as to become dissolved.