Jelly Crystals and Evaporated Milk: On the trail of the ‘Australian flummery’

 It was the kind of observation on Australian history by a new chef that ever-so-slightly irks the food historian in me and sets me sleuthing for the evidence to back up it up. Phil Wood, chef-owner of up-scale restaurant Ursula’s, in Paddington in an April 2022 article by journalist Max Brearley on a revival of ‘old-school,1950s grandma food’ is quoted as saying this of flummery:

While flummery’s English cousin is centuries old, the Australian version of flummery was born out of post-war necessity, says Wood. The original recipe combines packet fruit jelly and evaporated milk. The evaporated milk must be “made really cold, and when you whip, it whips up like fake cream”. The fruit jelly is left in the fridge until almost set. Then you “fold those two things together, ending up with this flavoured mousse”.1

Was the ‘Australian version of flummery’ actually ‘born out of post-war necessity’? Did the ‘original (Australian) recipe’ in fact combine ‘packets of fruit jelly and evaporated milk’?

Well, no on both counts. The history of the flummery in Australia is longer and more interesting than that.

This article follows the history of flummery in Australia 1864 to 1957.

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