- Date: Thursday, February 19, 2009 -- 7pm
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Kitchen: My Apartment
- Dining Companion: Matty
- Recipe Rating: B-
On Thursday, February 19, 2009, my special gentleman and I did indeed taste this Mint Jelly for the first time, hence that's the date that I listed above. But was this recipe prepared on Thursday, February 19, 2009? Well, no, not quite. In fact I made this mint jelly in early June, more than nine months ago now. I went through a canning phase soon after my grandmother died last summer. I think the two things were related, but I can't quite explain why my grief prompted me to start canning. In any event, I made several of the jams and jellies from The Book in May and June last year. Most of them I was extremely excited to taste. I was spreading the jams and jellies on bread just after making them, or in some cases, eating them by the spoonful! With this recipe, I felt no such desire. I like mint quite a bit, but mint jelly has never been my favorite. Plus, it is meant to be served with meat rather than spread on bread, which makes it less ideal for immediate consumption. The final straw was that it just looked so unappealing. Often mint jelly is dyed a very artificial green color, and The Book does indeed give the option of adding green food coloring. I decided I was going to rise above, and leave it the color that it came out naturally, but indeed that brownish color was not appetizing at all. Further, the jelly didn't set right away. Actually, it was incredibly liquidy in the jars for weeks! Finally it set up a bit (still not too firm), but at that point I had no desire to eat it.
So four little jars of mint jelly sat in our pantry in Boston all summer, unopened. Finally it came time to move out of that apartment and back to Indiana. My special gentleman asked, "What should we do with the mint jelly?" We couldn't throw it away -- we hadn't even tasted it yet. So I said, "Pack it," and that's what we did. So the mint jelly got moved in a moving truck from Boston to Michigan and then in my car to Indiana, and eventually it ended up in my kitchen cupboard, just sitting there. And so it sat for another seven months. Then one day a few weeks ago I was scrounging through my cupboards, looking for who-knows-what, and I accidentally left the items in a not so stable arrangement. The next time I opened the cupboard door, one of the jars of mint jelly came crashing down. I took it as a sign. So a few days later I made some lamb and my special gentleman and I sampled this jelly on it.
Before I comment on how it was I should back up to last June and try to remember what went into making this recipe. I started by sterilizing my jars and lids, as one always should when canning stuff. Then I steeped mint leaves in water, then strained the liquid and added an insane amount of sugar (3.5 cups of sugar for 1.75 cups of water), cider vinegar, and lemon juice and boiled it. I added liquid pectin and boiled for a minute. I ladled the jelly into my clean jars, then sealed, processed (boiling the jelly in the jars for 10 minutes), and cooled them according to typical canning procedures. I then let the jelly sit for nine months (although that wasn't in the recipe!) before enjoying.
It's hard to comment fairly on this recipe. I just don't particularly like mint jelly. As far as mint jellies go, this one seemed fine. We ate it with lamb, and that was an appropriate use for it. It had a strong flavor of mint and vinegar, and also a tremendous sweetness to it. I asked my special gentleman for his opinion and he said, "Well... it was minty. And sweet." That pretty much summarizes it. In retrospect I probably should have put a drop or two of food coloring in because the color was not nice, and it looked particularly unappealing in the jar. Would I make this again? Well, no. In fact I have no idea what I will even do with the three unopened jars (anyone out there like mint jelly and want some?) But that's mainly personal preference -- if you enjoy mint jelly, you will probably like this recipe.
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