Strawberries seem to be in season for a long time in Melbourne. I started buying them for a good price at the Victoria Market in October and now, in January, they are still great value. The ones I bought last week were $5 for two enormous punnets, containing over a kilogram of sweet ripe strawberries.
When I have that many that need to be used up in a short space of time, I love making a strawberry jelly with Prosecco. This delicate and boozy jelly is perfect for summer months. It has several steps with some waiting time in between, but it is quite easy. It can be made a couple of days ahead and makes an impressive dinner party dessert. You can serve the jelly in any pretty glasses you own – champagne cups or martini glasses, or you can place them in jelly moulds and invert to serve.
Strawberry and prosecco jelly*
600g unhulled strawberries (500g hulled)
100g caster sugar
100ml sweet wine (vinsanto or other dessert wine)
1/2 vanilla pod
3 gold strength (200 blooms) gelatin leaves
200ml Prosecco (or other sparkling wine)
Place the hulled strawberries, sweet wine, caster sugar and vanilla pod (scrape the seeds out first then drop the pod in as well) in a ceramic bowl and cover with plastic film. Prepare a saucepan half filled with water and place the ceramic bowl over this. It should fit snugly in the saucepan and the base of the bowl should not touch the water. Boil the water and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes. The wine will become pink from the strawberries. Remove the ceramic bowl from the pot and allow to cool with the plastic film over it.
Once it has cooled down, drain the liquid from the strawberries with a fine sieve. Allow them to drain completely and don’t crush them against the sieve or else the liquid will become cloudy. This should take about 15 minutes and you should get 300ml of liquid. Discard the strawberries (or eat a couple – they are very nice!!).
Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes or until they become soft. In the meantime, heat 100ml of the strawberry liquid in a small saucepan. Once it is close to boiling, remove from the heat and add the drained gelatin leaves. Stir until they dissolve. Place all the strawberry liquid in a measuring jug (one litre capacity) and add the Prosecco. Once the bubbles subside, divide evenly into 4 glasses. Place in the fridge overnight or until set.
*adapted from “Cook with us” Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris