One of the best parts of having a garden in the summer is the fresh herbs. I use my cilantro in tacos, salsa, guacamole & jasmine rice while the green coriander seeds go into pickles, I use the basil & oregano on fresh pizza, Caprese salad or in tomato sauce as well as drying some, the dill goes into pickles & gets dried for winter soups & sauces, the tarragon goes into flavored vinegar & gets dried, same goes for the sage, etc. Everything gets used, ultimately, whether it gets used fresh… or dried.
Mint is excellent when used fresh. It’s awesome in water or lemonade, or as a garnish on ice creams/sorbets. But if you’re growing mint & not making homemade mint jelly, you’re seriously missing out. Even if you don’t like it you probably know someone who loves to smear it on lamb chops or a leg of lamb, so gift it to them.
The first time I made mint jelly, it was right after my grandmother passed away. We had been very, very close, & I was her caregiver for the last few years, so it hit me hard. I was up ’til all hours of the night every night, not sure quite what to do with myself. So usually I baked or made pickles, jams or marmalades to give away to people who were actually eating (I wasn’t, not much). I literally made mint jelly for the first time at 2 a.m.; I ran outside in boxer shorts & a tank top to cut the fresh mint by flashlight. However, I was actually very surprised at how quickly it went by & how easy it was to make.
This is a different recipe than the last recipe I posted. They’re very similar, but this one has a slightly different technique. Both recipes are equally good & come together just as easily… it just comes down to preference. Butter or lemon juice? Also, what kind of pectin you prefer, liquid or powder. Both of my recipes here use powdered pectin, but there are a ton of recipes for mint jelly using liquid pectin available. Also: you do not have to add the green food coloring. I just like people to know what they’re in for- and the clear apple juice color of natural mint jelly isn’t very appetizing, nor does it give you the idea you’re about to eat mint jelly.
MINT JELLY (from Kraft)
Makes 8 half-pints; can be halved or quartered with good results
- 4 cups mint infusion (buy about 2 cups firmly packed fresh mint leaves with stems)
- 2 drops green food coloring
- 1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
- 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine
- 5 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
- Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
- Wash mint leaves and stems. Finely chop or crush mint. Place in large saucepan; add water. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 min. Place three layers of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared infusion into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed, hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently. Measure exactly 4 cups strained infusion into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. (If necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water for exact measure.) Stir in food coloring.
- Stir pectin into infusion in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
- Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 5 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
I find that I can use liquid pectin & powdered pectin interchangeably; not necessarily substituting them in the same recipe, but meaning that I have no difficulties with either one. Some people dislike one or the other, or dislike using extra pectin at all unless it’s homemade. I’m sure there are folks who are anti-adding extra pectin whatsoever too, because no matter what you do in life there are people who are gonna hate it. However it’s impossible to make mint jelly (or most jelly, for that matter) without adding commercial pectin or homemade pectin, so if it’s something you want to do keep that in mind.
And if your jelly isn’t set right away, try waiting a week or so. Sometimes the pectin needs some time to do it’s magic.
I always thought it’d be interesting to try this using chocolate mint; it’d probably taste like a Girl Scout cookie jelly. I think next year I will.