Good Old Jelly and custard

foraged seaweed, Rose Geranium, and homemade custard

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Hilda Gerber’s Traditional Cookery of the Cape Malays describes a Hout Bay fisherman with reference to seaweed jelly saying, ”The only reason that white people don’t use this good thing is that they don’t know it. We Malays know what’s good to eat”… so the secret is out.

Where you find kelp, you’ll find ‘Suhria vittata,’ whose high concentration of agar-agar is the active ingredient in vegan jelly. Suhria vitta grows on strands of kelp and on limpets. It is earthy red when alive, but when stranded above the high-watermark, time, salt and sun cause it to fade.

Wet or dry, red or bleached are equally good for agar-agar. Bear in mind, red seaweed will stain your jelly pink and it might taste more of the sea, so nine times out of ten the bleached dry stuff is best, however it would be it optimistic to expect perfectly clear jellies. If you want to be fancy, you can use food colourants, or else allow the natural colours that present themselves reflect the various moods of the Atlantic Ocean. In this rose pelargonium jelly recipe, mostly red seaweed was used to achieve that pink Turkish delight vibe.

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