Category Archives: Jellies

Day 337: Coffee Jelly

I’m still around coffee drinking family members so this afternoon I decided to make Coffee Jelly. The recipe was contributed by Mrs. Caldbeck of Woodstock for the1898 New Galt Cook Book. The recipe is one of the eleven recipes in the Jellies section of the cook book.

The brand of gelatine mentioned in the recipe.

The brand of gelatine mentioned in the recipe.

The first step was to determine the amount of gelatine I needed. The recipe calls for “one-half six cent package Cox’s gelatine”. Cox is a brand of gelatine but how big was a six cent package? I decided to base my decision on the amount of liquid that I needed to set with the gelatine. The Knox brand of gelatine box says one of their envelopes will set two cups of liquid so I decided to use 2 envelopes of gelatine dissolved in 1/2 cup of cold water.

One of the coffees advertised in The Canadian Grocers magazine in 1898.

One of the coffees advertised in The Canadian Grocers magazine in 1898.

I left the gelatine and water to sit for the required 1/2 hour while I made the coffee. As a non coffee drinker I avoid making it most of the time since I’m never sure how it will turn out. However, I thought I’d done a good job this time since it smelled like coffee and looked like coffee instead of beige water like the time I forgot to add any coffee grounds. I made sure I had 1 quart (4 cups) of hot coffee. I think I made it quite strong and then I added 4 teaspoons of sugar to sweeten it. I put the gelatine in a larger bowl and poured the hot coffee over stirring to make sure everything was well mixed and the gelatine was dissolved. I put it in the fridge to set. A few hours later it was set and I was ready to taste my coffee jelly. The rest of the family tried it after I returned home but I had a full tasting report by phone tonight.

Unfortunately I still don’t have a clear idea about the identity and story of Mrs. Caldbeck and that’s too bad as the woman shared some interesting recipes. Her beet salad and chicken salad recipes were very good.

Coffee Jelly with whipped cream

Coffee Jelly with whipped cream

My tasters had mixed reviews of Coffee Jelly. Imagine a coffee flavoured Jello instead of citrus or berry flavoured. If you don’t like the texture gelatine then I doubt this will appeal to you but if you are adventurous you just might have something new to try. I sampled it with some whipped cream and liked it despite not being a coffee drinker. My father had it plain and enjoyed it too. He noticed that it wasn’t very sweet which was fine with him. My father enjoys strong coffee — the kind where you can stand up the spoon– so perhaps that’s why it passed his taste test. My sister and mother did not like this dessert at all. They thought the coffee flavour was too strong, something that surprised even them since they enjoy a good cup of coffee. . My mother’s comment was that Coffee Jelly would be great at an adult Halloween party since it dark coloured and looks strange! Clearly the type and strength of the coffee makes a difference. The sweetness can also be altered when you make it. I think this is well worth trying again. It is quick, simple and unique.

Mrs. Caldbeck, Woodstock

One-half six cent package Cox’s gelatine soaked one-half hour in one-half cupful cold water, add one quart good boiling hot sweetened coffee, stir well and strain into a quart mould well rinsed in cold water. Serve with whipped cream.



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Day 83: Gelatine Jelly

Tonight’s recipe clearly states what to expect. I’m making Gelatine Jelly using a recipe contributed by Mrs. John Goldie for the 1898 New Galt Cook Book. I know from the title that I’m not making jam jelly but I am making the sort of jellied dessert using gelatine. The recipe appears in a section of the cook book called Jellies.

I secretly enjoy gelatine desserts. They are better known around here by the trademarked brand Jello. I like plain fruit flavoured Jello and even a few of the jellied salads and desserts that start with that famous powder. I’ve avoided this section of the cook book not because I would have to confess my secret but rather because these recipes involve measurements that are difficult to translate into modern equivalents. They are also challenging recipes because they involve many steps. All except this recipe which turned out to be remarkably simple once I figured out what “one package of Nelson’s gelatine” might equal.

Lipton's Jelly Tablets - another form of gelatine.

Lipton’s Jelly Tablets – another form of gelatine. Photo taken at Doon Heritage Village.

Today there is very little choice in brands of plain gelatine. I have both Davis and Knox brands in my pantry. The boxes include small packets of granulated gelatine. This is a very convenient form of gelatine that was a new and exciting product in the 1890s. Knox was the leader in granulated plain gelatine as you can read here but other brands made innovations too and there were many different brands. Gelatine was also produced as shreds, tablets, and sheets. It is still possible to find the sheet form of gelatine in some food stores. Some companies specialized in gelatine for photography or for research or medicine and left gelatine for home use behind. As most vegetarians know, gelatine is an animal product and not a very appetizing one if you stop and think about it. You’ll also note that I’m using the Canadian spelling of gelatine rather than the American gelatin. It’s one of the few Canadian spellings in the cook book.

My boxes of unflavoured gelatine state that one of the little envelopes will set 2 cups of liquid so that gave me a starting point to determine how many packets I needed to equal “one package of Nelson’s gelatine”.  To find out more about this brand check this site. The recipe calls for 1 quart of water and that is about 4 cups. There is also going to be liquid from the lemons and oranges.

I decided to try making half the recipe so I put 1 envelope of Knox unflavoured gelatine in a bowl. I poured 2 cups of boiling water over it and immediately stirred until it was all dissolved. Then I added 1 cup of white granulated sugar a little at a time, and stirred until it was also dissolved. While the water boiled I had prepared the fruit juices. I squeezed juice from 1 lemon plus half of the lemon from yesterday. I also squeezed the juice from 1 orange. I strained it and added the juice to the liquid sugar/gelatine. I stirred well and poured it into a clear glass loaf pan. I thought it might be interesting to see the gelatine as it set. I also thought the long shallow dish might set more quickly. Mrs. Goldie probably put her gelatine in a cool room in winter or on ice in summer. She might have also had an ice box and placed it there. I used the modern equivalent and placed my Gelatine Jelly in the fridge to set.

The Goldie home in 1902.

The Goldie home in 1902 Galt Ontario. Photo: Toronto Public Library.

Mrs. John Goldie was born Margaret Rogers (or Rodgers) about 1838 to Alexander and Rebecca. Her parents had both emigrated from Scotland along with their first son. Margaret and her sister were born in Canada in South Dumfries Township. Her father is listed as a farmer in the 1851 census. She married 48-year-old manufacturer Jonathan Goldie in 1870 when she was 32. His first wife Elizabeth had died two years previous leaving him with their young son. As a new bride in Galt in 1871, the census includes Margaret and John and his son John age 10 but also an adopted daughter Rebecca Groff age 3 who still has her original surname. Later she has the same surname as the rest of the family. Margaret and John had two more children Alexander and Charlotte. Margaret’s step son John died in 1883 when he was 22 of some sort of lung disease. Seventy-three year old Mr. John Goldie died in 1896 but Margaret was 81 when she died in 1920. Based on the 1911 census, her later years were spent at 45 Forbes Street in Galt living with her daughter Rebecca, a servant named Mary Barlow who was a recent emigrant from Scotland and a roomer named Helen Maxwell who worked as a stenographer. The house still stands at the corner of Forbes and Kribs street in Cambridge Ontario.

Mrs. John Goldie’s Gelatine Jelly tastes great … except that it isn’t set. It is nice and cold so I have a feeling it isn’t going to set. I will report back tomorrow but I suspect I needed at least another half packet of gelatine or even more. Once I figure out the proportion of gelatine then this will be a great recipe, particularly if you like jellied desserts but want to know what goes into it. With this recipe you control the sugar and the source of the flavouring. Currently I think the balance of sweetness with the tart lemon/orange is perfect but you might prefer something different. I can easily imagine Mrs. Goldie serving Gelatine Jelly to her family but also at a special meal for company.

UPDATE: March 25, 2014.  It set! I checked on the gelatine jelly today and it is perfectly set and still tastes great. The tart lemon flavour is very appealing. It isn’t sweet like commercially flavoured lemon gelatine and would work well in late 19th century fine dining with its many courses. This would certainly sharpen the appetite. I feel much better prepared to tackle some of the more complex gelatine desserts in The New Galt Cook Book.


Mrs. John Goldie

One package of Nelson’s gelatine; pour over it one quart of boiling water; when the gelatine is dissolved, add two cupfuls sugar, the juice of three good lemons and two oranges carefully strained. When well mixed, put into a mould wet with cold water.

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