In the Ghouta, during the spring, my favourites - apricots and pomegranates - flowered at the same time, growing side by side like friends. Later, as their fruit ripened, the apricot trees looked as if they might collapse under the weight of the fruit. No shop-bought apricots can bring you the heaven of tree-ripened fruit, still warm from the sun that has brought it to a state of perfection. However, the real taste of apricots is not unattainable; something miraculous can happen when you cook them in the right way. Always choose the darkest apricots you can find, preferably ones with a pink blush.
Joseph made fruit jellies for me because he knew children loved them, but in fact adults are just as enthusiastic. I like to serve jelly with good cream that slides sensually over. People sigh with pleasure.
Gut the apricots in half and remove the stones. Put them into a saucepan with the sugar, pomegranate juice and lemon juice and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the fruit is just soft, not mushy. Meanwhile, cut the gelatine into small pieces, put into a heatproof bowl with the cold water and leave to soak.
When the apricots are ready, remove the pan from the heat. Now put the bowl of soaked gelatine over a saucepan of very gently simmering water and stir just until smoothly melted. Pour into the fruit mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to mix in evenly.
Cut open the pomegranate and scrape the seeds and juice into the fruit mixture, reserving a few seeds for decoration. Stir to mix evenly. Turn into a 1.2-1.3 litre jelly mould or pudding bowl and leave to cool - I find that metal jelly moulds are the most successful for turning out jellies. When cold, chill for several hours, or overnight, until well set.
Before serving, dip the mould briefly in a sink of hot water, then loosen the edges of the jelly with your fingertips and turn out onto a serving plate. If the jelly doesn’t plop out easily, a good shake against the plate should do the trick. Scatter the reserved pomegranate seeds on top and refrigerate again until ready to serve.
© 2010 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.