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MINT JELLY

Most everyone has heard of mint jelly. It’s that dark-emerald-green stuff often served with leg of lamb. I never  heard of anyone who ate it on toast – just with lamb. It doesn’t seem to be a big seller in the jelly business.

Homemade herb jellies have an entirely different taste than commercially-made ones. They aren’t hard to make if you do your prep work ahead, and have much more complex flavors than the unrelenting sweetness of Smucker’s or Mary Ellen. Whether you buy fresh herbs at the farmer’s market or grocery store, or have some planted in a pot or garden, this is an unusual way to enjoy them. You can eat this with lamb, or spread it on toast, or use it as a glaze.

This is from Better Than Store-Bought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie, a cookbook that tells you how to make foods at home that are usually mass-produced. Worth buying a copy if you’d like to learn how to make cheese, breads, pickles, vinegars, liqueurs, and a lot more.

MINT JELLY

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3-ounce tube liquid pectin
  • 1-2 drops green food coloring

Put the mint in a saucepan. Crush the mint leaves with a jar, can, or potato masher. Add water and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, remove from heat, cover, and let steep 15 minutes.

Strain the infusion through a fine wire-mesh strainer. Measure 1 1/2 cups of liquid into a saucepan; discard the leaves and excess liquid. Add the salt, sugar, and lemon juice.

Stirring constantly, bring to a hard boil that cannot be stirred down. At this point, add the pectin and return to a boil for one minute.

Remove from heat. Add food coloring. Pour jelly into four 8-ounce sterilized canning jars. Using a metal spoon, skim off any foam. Seal with sterilized lids and ring bands. Place on a towel to cool completely.

You can also use paraffin to seal the jars. This is no longer a recommended method of sealing jellies, but some people continue to use it, probably because their grandmothers did it. I have used paraffin and it does work well, but only for about a year or two. After that the paraffin tends to shrink and become misshapen and no longer provides a good seal. I quit doing it because working with paraffin can be dangerous – you have to melt it and paraffin is highly flammable – and because it’s just a whole lot easier to use lids and ring bands.

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