Mint Jelly

Mmmmm. Mint jelly with lamb. Made the mint jelly; now all I need is the lamb. Did you know that mint jelly is not really green? It isn’t. It’s golden colored in its natural state. That green stuff you see in the stores is just food coloring. Here’s a straightforward recipe for making your own, using the pectin from fresh tart apples as a jelling base.

Mint Jelly Recipe

The tarter the apples, the more pectin they will usually have. If you are using home picked apples, earliest in the season is best, and the smaller apples will have proportionally more pectin as well.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs of tart apples (e.g. Granny Smith), unpeeled, chopped into big pieces, including the cores (including the cores is important as this is where most of the natural pectin is)
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh spearmint leaves, chopped, lightly packed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar (7/8 cups for each cup of juice)

Method

1 Combine apple pieces with water and mint in a large pan. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat and cook 20 minutes, until apples are soft.

2 Add vinegar, return to boil. Simmer covered, 5 more minutes.

3 Use a potato masher to mash up the apple pieces to the consistency of thin apple sauce.

4 Spoon the apple pulp into a muslin cloth (or a couple layers of cheesecloth) or a large, fine mesh sieve, suspended over a large bowl. Leave to strain for several hours. Do not squeeze. Note that if your mash is too thick, you can add 1/2 a cup to a cup more of water to it. You should have 4 to 5 cups of resulting juice.

5 Measure the juice, then pour into a large pot. Add the sugar (7/8 a cup for each cup of juice). Heat gently, stirring to make sure the sugar gets dissolved and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

6 Bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, using a metal spoon to skim off the surface scum. Continue to boil until a candy thermometer
shows that the temperature has reached 8-10°F above the boiling point at your altitude (boiling point is 212°F at sea level, so at sea level the temperature should read 220-222°F). Additional time needed for cooking can be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or longer, depending on the amount of water, sugar, and apple pectin in the mix.

Candy thermometers aren't always the most reliable indicators of whether or not a jelly is done. Another way to test is put a half teaspoonful of the jelly on a chilled (in the freezer) plate. Allow the jelly to cool a few seconds, then push it with your fingertip. If it wrinkles up, it's ready.

7 Pour into sterilized* canning jars to within 1/4" from the top and seal.

Makes approximately 4 8-ounce jars.

*There are several ways to sterilize jars for canning. You can run the jars through a short cycle in a dishwasher. You can place the jars in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don't touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Or you can rinse the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

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28 Comments

  1. Cathy

    I am wondering about how long jelly can be stored. Also if it should be stored in refrigerator or if it can be at room temperature.

    Hi Cathy – if you follow good canning procedures you should be able to store the jelly unopened at room temperature for a year. Though once you open a jar, in to the fridge it must go. Both sugar and vinegar act as preservatives. The biggest risk is of mold. ~Elise

  2. ben

    Tonight, I had some really good lamb chops that were cooked just right, and I made a mint “sauce” just by steeping chopped mint in hot, sugary, vinegary water, per Darina Allen. It was good — the lamb was good enough that it didn’t need *anything* — but this homemade mitn jelly is what I really wanted. Next time!

  3. ben

    OK, it’s in the jar, and I’ve learned many things about preserve-making and canning (this was my first time). The jars took the seal and the lids turned concave; so I think I did it mostly right.

    The jelly turned out a beautiful deep copper/gold colour. I added some fine-chopped mint in the boil at the end, because I think it should be flecked with bits of mint leaf.

    Still a little bit soupier and sloppier than I’d like, but I think it’ll be just right when refrigerated.

  4. ben

    Lamb chops, new potatoes, fresh leaf spinach, good butter and home-made mint jelly. From in the door to on the plate in twenty minutes, and you’d turn up your nose at ambrosia and lobster thermidor for it. The dog gets to crunch on a bone (just one!) afterwards. Nothing better.

  5. Julie

    I tried this recipe and found that the jelly did not gel. It is fully cooled and still a syrup. Some things I may have done wrong: I used half Granny Smith, half McIntosh apples, I put in two cups of mint instead of one and one-half. Hmmm, evidently that was enough to throw off the geling properties. I guess there was not enough natural pectin in my apples? I don’t know. I just mixed in some freezer jam pectin and I am waiting to see its impact. It is no longer the beautiful clear gold, but whatever. If this doesn’t work, I guess I’ll pour it over ice cream. It is a disappointment, though. I’d rather eat it with my leg of lamb.

  6. Elise

    Hi Julie – you can still use it as a syrup with lamb, can’t you?

    3 things affect the gelling – 1) the amount of pectin – tart apples like granny smith have more pectin than sweet apples, 2) the amount of sugar – sugar helps with gelling, and 3) getting the temperature of the syrup up to 220°F (at sea level) – this means enough water has evaporated from the jelly.

  7. Lynn

    I know the original question about how long the jelly would last was asked last year, but wanted to answer, in case anyone else was wondering. My mom made mint jelly like this when I was a kid. (I’m 50 now.) The last batch she made before she died was when I was 14. We didn’t have lamb often. Ten years later, my husband had some of the last jar, and it was just as delicious. It survived four moves, too, so once it’s canned properly, it will last for years.

    Also, as a child, my older brothers, who didn’t necessarily like this chore, made my bag lunch for school. They kept trying to make lunches that they didn’t think I would like. It sounds strange, but one of the best sandwiches they made was mint jelly and pretzels. Consider using the mint jelly as a dip for pretzels sometime. Good combinations of salt and sweet with the extra punch of mint for the sweet. LOL

  8. Rachel

    Hullo, I have a mint jelly question! (apologies if they seem a bit daft)

    I’ve never had mint jelly as here in britain mint sauce (mint leaves in vinegar) dominates…do the apples really go? and how minty is it?…

    I have two mint plants which have thrived in the awful weather we have had so far this summer and am looking for a way of preserving them (asides from packing them ino ice cube trays and freezing).

    Also…to ensure it gels completely would it be a cheat to add a small amount of gelatin?

  9. Elise

    Hi Rachel – because there is so much natural pectin in apples (in the cores, especially of slightly under-ripe tart apples), apples are used as a base for a lot of jelly making. They make a wonderful base for mint jelly. If you are following this recipe properly (e.g. using the apple cores, and using tart Granny Smith apples) you should not need to add any gelatin. I’ve never had a problem with an apple-based jelly not setting. Regarding the preserving of mint, I don’t know what to tell you as our mint grows all year long. Perhaps you could dry some?

  10. Cris

    Instead of mint jelly, we use mint honey on our lamb, since we don’t eat refined sugar. It’s a lot less work, too. Wash your fresh mint leaves (I don’t bother removing the stems), pat them dry, pack them into a clean pint or jam jar. Heat up about a cup of honey just so it’s warm, pour it over the mint, stirring to get rid of any air bubbles. Allow to steep on the counter until it’s cool. I keep this in the fridge for months, set it on the counter when I’m cooking the lamb so it’s more fluid by the time dinner’s ready.

    Hi Chris, what an absolutely brilliant idea. Thank you! ~Elise

  11. Stormy

    I make Mint and Kiwi jelly for my pork and lamb chops also good smeared on ribs and barbqued over a pit with two tablespoons of Onion flavored Barbque sauce with it
    Try it Its wonderful!!!

  12. Les

    A wonderful recipe! But I must say I like to add a bit of green food coloring, especially during the holidays. I think it’s festive. There are plenty of brands out there that use all natural ingredients.

  13. Jack

    Thank you for this recipe. I’m going to give it a shot as my fiancee loves mint jelly on her lamb. As we have both recently gotten into organic foods, I am going to try this with Agave Nectar as a sweetener instead of sugar.

    Hello Jack, Actually I don’t advise making this jelly with anything other than straight sugar. Not only will sugar assist in the firming up of the jelly, it is also an important preservative. If all you want to make is a mint sauce, to be eaten right away, that’s another thing. In that case agave would likely work just fine. But if you are intending to make preserves, it is best to stick with sugar. ~Elise

  14. Michele

    Hello Elise, I want to make a 1/2 recipe because I don’t have the materials or time for canning. I like my mint jelly all natural and on toast. How long will a fresh batch last in the refrigerator if I refrigerate it promptly? I am using Granny Smith Apples for the Pectin.

    The biggest risk you face is mold. It will either get moldy or not. If it doesn’t get moldy it will last indefinitely (though best the first year), as sugar is the preservative. ~Elise

  15. mayel

    Thank you for the great recipes.
    I made jelly last night and will be going back for some more elderberries. Your site is the best, the pictures with all the bright colors and directions on the recipes are easy to follow even for me. Thanks again, Mayel in Indiana

  16. Michele

    Thanks Elise, almost done, about to boil with sugar. Smells Great! I am making one jar and I am sure it will be gone before it gets a chance to mold. I am sure I will be making more by Thanksgiving! I will definately be looking at your recipes for a long time to come! Oh, I am using fresh apple mint!

  17. Jennifer

    Hi Elise! I want to preserve the incredibly large amount of mint I have and I think this is a grest way to do it. I just have one question. My in laws can’t eat apples. It’s a special diet and the kids can’t have them. They can have the packaged pectin. Do you think it would work to use that? I hate to mess with a winning recipe (as yours always are!) but I’d love to present a jar of mint jelly to my mother in law for Thanksgiving. Your thoughts would be appreciated!

    Hi Jennifer, I’m sure you can make mint jelly jelly with packaged pectin, I just don’t have a recipe for it. You might want to check mint jelly recipes online and see what you come up with. ~Elise

  18. Mike

    I used this for Easter and thought it was great – thanks! I did have to boil the juice to a much higher temperature than suggested here to get a good jelly consistency, though. I liked that the vinegar added a bit of tanginess to it, but if you’re looking for something more purely sweet like what you’d buy in the supermarket, I might cut down on the vinegar a little — unless it’s necessary to use that much to extract the pectin effectively?

    I think you only need a couple tablespoons for the pectin to work properly. ~Elise

  19. Elle

    This was great! I was looking for a recipe to use my chocolate mint on – it’s all over the place already this year – and this worked out great! I really like the trick of checking the jelly on a frozen plate. Thanks for the great recipes, Elise!

  20. Kirk

    I’m just finishing the recipe. I’ve got a nice Apple Jelly, no mint. I added the mint in step one as directed. By the end of the 20 minute boil, all the minty-ness was gone. Is the mint supposed to be added with the vinegar?
    Thanks.

    Hmm, that’s weird. No idea what’s up with that. You do add the mint with the apples in the first step. ~Elise

  21. Connie

    Thank you for this recipe! I followed your recipe exactly, except for draining the juice. I didn’t get much juice out the first time I drained it, so instead I pressed out the solids and then let it drain from the apple sauce that was left. The juice wasn’t very clear, but I decided that it was going to be OK if it wasn’t clear. After I added the sugar and brought it to a boil, the juice became clear! I was amazed! It also gelled better than I could have imagined! I am very amazed that I made something so awesome. Thanks for the good, clear, directions.

  22. JoAnn

    I have an open jar of mint jelly and a portion is crusty white. Is it safe to eat? It seems this always happens when I refrigerate the left overs from a newly open jar.

    Sounds like mold to me. I would toss the jelly. ~Elise

  23. Barbara

    Can you use dried mint for this?

    How much dried mint can I use?

    Normaly there is fresh mint in my yard in the summer. It’s early spring here.

    No. This particular recipe requires fresh mint. ~Elise

  24. Robin

    I have a really stupid question…What kind of mint? Spearmint? I’m planning on getting some seed to start and was wondering what kind to grow…

    Yes, spearmint. ~Elise

  25. Claire

    Can I just double check this recipe please.

    I have 8 cups of juice. So how many cups of sugar do I need?

    In general, it’s not a good idea to double jelly recipes. The fact that you are doubling the volume, without doubling the surface area for evaporation is what can get you into trouble. That said, you don’t really know if it will work unless you try it. Personally I would just make a second batch. As for the amount of sugar, it is as given in the recipe, 7/8 of a cup of sugar for every cup of juice. ~Elise

  26. metaxia

    I tried this recipe. I even doubled the mint and I can’t taste the mint. I think I will try this with pork roast also, since the mint is so weak in flaver.

  27. Taffy

    Excellent recipe Elise, the apple jelly formed perfectly but the mint flavour was very weak when I sampled it before putting it in jars. Decided to add another half cup of finely chopped mint leaves immediately before putting into jars. The result was a much improved minty flavour, although you end up with a speckled jelly – no problem as far as I’m concerned. The mint flavour also improves after 24 hours in the fridge. This recipe is an excellent veggie alternative to my traditional jelly made with gelatine.

  28. HTuttle

    Made a batch with a variation of this recipe.
    Apple/Mint/Ginger/HotPepper Jelly

    Used Apple juice drink instead of water wherever water is called for.

    Used a large bunch of spearmint, about ten cut off tops, total about the size of a batch of celery.
    One large ginger root, lightly peeled.
    Ten or so green serano chile peppers.
    Ran all that through a food processor until a coarse mush. Added some apple juice and simmered for about ten minutes.

    3 lbs of Granny Smith apples, cut up and cooked with more chopped spearmint (another 4 tops or so) and apple drink as directed (bag of apples was 3 lbs. so I went with that instead of the 4 lbs. called for).

    Strained the apple/mint mush four times through a metal mesh strainer, adding more juice and reheating before each straining.

    Strained the food processor mush once into the same liquid (then added that mush to the apple/mint mush for use in later making a great Apple/Mint/Ginger/HotPepper cake).

    Measured the liquid and had 8 cups so I boiled and simmered until reduced down to just under 5 cups.
    Added the sugar according to directions, 7/8 cup sugar to each cup of liquid.

    Boiled the sugar liquid to 221f degrees. Could fee/l how thick it was. Ladled into sterile Mason jars. Put on lids and left to cool on counter. Next day all was jellied nicely and went into the fridge!

    Bonus cake:
    Mixed the remaining mush with about an equal amount of flour/sugar/baking powder mix and baked at 350 for about 50 minutes. Came out GREAT! The ginger and hot pepper makes it a very peppy cake with the apple and mint flavor behind it.

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