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. Because the apples are providing natural pectin, we won't need to add any commercial pectin to the jelly.
Reader Variations on This Recipe
- Add a handful of finely sliced fresh mint leaves right at the end of cooking.
- Use apple juice in place of the water called for.
- Simmer a knob of ginger to strain out with the solids.
- Add sliced hot peppers or a sprinkling of dried hot pepper flakes.
- Add a few drops of green food coloring if you prefer the vibrant emerald green color of commercial mint jelly.
Troubleshooting Mint Jelly
- When freshly made, the mint flavor is not as strong, while the vinegar flavor can be quite strong. After a few weeks of storage, the vinegar flavor will soften and mellow.
- For the best result, do not decrease the amount of sugar. It is necessary to activate the pectin in the apples.
- If your jelly did not fully set, sometimes it will firm up a bit as the jars sit. It will also firm up a little when refrigerated. If your jelly is still runny, use it as a mint syrup in cocktails or fizzy drinks. Or just drizzle it over lamb.
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.
4 pounds 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)
3 cups fresh spearmint leaves, chopped, packed
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
About 3 1/2 cups sugar (7/8 cup for each 1 cup strained juice)
- Muslin cloth, cheesecloth, or fine mesh sieve
- 4 (half-pint) canning jars
- 4 canning jar lids and rings
Sterilize the jars:
Use your preferred method to sterilize 4 half-pint canning jars.
Wash the lids and rings in hot, soapy water.
Cook the apple and mint in water:
Combine apple pieces with water and mint in a large pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook 20 minutes, or until apples are soft.
Add the vinegar and simmer:
Add the vinegar and return to a boil. Cover and simmer 5 more minutes.
Mash the apple pieces:
Use a potato masher to mash up the apple pieces to the consistency of thin apple sauce. If the mash is too thick (it should be quite runny), add another 1/2 to 1 cup of water to the pot.
Strain the apple mash:
Spoon the apple pulp into a a large, fine mesh sieve lined with muslin cloth (or a couple layers of cheesecloth) suspended over a large bowl. Leave to strain for several hours. Do not squeeze.
After a few hours about 4 cups of juice should have strained out of the mash.
Measure the juice, add sugar, and heat until the sugar is dissolved:
Measure the juice, then pour into a nonreactive large pot. Add the sugar (7/8 a cup for each 1 cup of strained juice). Heat on high, stirring to make sure the sugar gets dissolved and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
Simmer until the gelling point:
Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium or medium high, so that you maintain a strong simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, using a metal spoon to skim off the surface scum.
Continue to boil until a digital thermometershows 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.
A thermometer reading isn't always the best way to tell 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. I usually start testing the jelly this way when the mixture gets to 218°F.
Pour into canning jars and seal:
Pour into hot canning jars to within 1/4 inch from the rim of the jar and seal.
For longer storage, this recipe may be water bath canned. Follow our procedures for water bath canning and process for 5 minutes. For the best flavor, consume the jars within 1 year.
Makes approximately 4 (8-ounce) jars. Once cool, refrigerate unsealed jars for up to 6 months.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 15g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 14g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|