Monday, June 21, 2010

Mint Jelly

Serve mint jelly over cream cheese with crackers for a quick hors d'oeuvre, on a piping hot biscuit or toasted English muffin slathered with butter in the morning, or as an accompaniment to ham, pork, chicken or lamb.

Mint jelly really is easy to make (or I wouldn't have been able to make it while maneuvering my Roll-About in the kitchen), and when you make this jelly at home, the mint flavor is much more subtle than the factory-produced jelly. I added a few drops of green food coloring to mine because I just love the emerald green jewel tone, but it's fine if you choose not to. Its natural color is a yellowish-brownish-green that I don't find very appealing, but you might not mind. Once my mint recovers from its trimming, I'm going to make some more but I think I'll add some minced jalapeno and maybe even some hot pepper flakes next time for variety, and I bet that will be delicious.  A special thanks to my neighbor and friend, Fran Bundy, for stopping by in time to pour this into the jars for me. Her timing was perfect!

Homemade Mint Jelly
(Makes about 5 cups or so)

1 1/2 cups packed spearmint, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
3 1/4 cups filtered water (I think the odd flavor of chemically treated tap water might ruin your efforts.)
3 drops green food coloring (optional)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 box fruit pectin (such as Sure-Jell)
4 cups granulated sugar

Place mint and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let the leaves steep for at least 10 minutes, up to 20. Strain through a coffee filter-lined strainer and measure out 3 cups of the mint-infused water. Set aside.

In a 5-6 quart pot, combine the mint infusion, lemon juice, and Sure-Jell. Stir this until the Sure-Jell powder is dissolved, then bring all to a boil, uncovered. Add the sugar and food coloring and bring this back to a rolling boil, stirring almost constantly. (A rolling boil is a boil that you cannot stir down.) Stop stirring, boil for 1 minute, and then remove from the heat. Using a large stainless spoon, skim off any froth and discard.

Ladle the mint syrup into clean, hot jars, seal, and store.

Note: You can use any jars for this. If you are using canning jars, follow the manufacturer's directions for processing jelly. If you are using odds-and-ends cute jars you have on hand, fill to within 1/4 inch of the rim and place the lid on tightly while hot. (Pour hot tap water into your jars first to heat the glass, drain and dry. If the glass is cool, it might crack from rapid expansion as you pour in the hot mint syrup.) Leave in a cool spot until the jars have cooled to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator.

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