What’s Peppermint Jelly?

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Mint jelly is made with real mint leaves and stems, boiled with lemon juice, water, sugar, and pectin. Green food coloring is added, and the jelly is canned. It’s a popular accompaniment to roast lamb and can be made at home using vinegar or chopped apples. Alcoholic versions are also available.

Mint jelly is a condiment made in a canning process like other jellies. Thanks to the addition of green food coloring, this jelly transforms from its natural orange tone to a green more suited to its mint flavor. Real mint is used to make the jelly, but the leaves and stems are strained. Mint jelly is mainly used as an accompaniment to roast lamb.

Mint jelly is easy enough to find in grocery stores or online. It’s also a favorite condiment to make at home for people who make other types of preserves or have mint in their garden. Homemade jellies can make great gifts when the jars are presented with a green bow on top.

The first step in making mint jelly is to lightly mash fresh, rinsed mint leaves with the bottom of a cup or other utensil to release the flavor. Then the mint leaves and stems are placed in a pot and covered with water. When the water has just reached a boil, the mint is allowed to sit in the water for about 10 minutes before being removed and strained through a strainer or cheesecloth.

The filtered mint essence is measured out and boiled again, this time with lemon juice, water, a few drops of green food coloring and sugar. Pectin is added to the boiling liquid to set the gelatin. The foam that rises to the top of the pot is removed with a large spoon. The last step is to place the jelly in heated, sterile jars and seal the lids.

Some mint jelly makers prefer to use vinegar rather than lemon, and some add chopped apples to make apple mint jelly. Green apples like the Granny Smith variety can add a wonderful flavor to jelly. Alcoholic versions can also be made or purchased. One brand name is Aunt Bea’s Mint Jelly of Kentucky, which contains bourbon, mint extract, and fruit juices.

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