Sweet mint jelly can be paired with cheese and crackers, used as a dessert topping or spread on toast, but it’s best known use is as a condiment for lamb. The tradition of serving lamb with mint began in a time when the spring slaughter coincided with the emergence of flavorful mint leaves that could mask the gamey taste of the meat. The two pair so well that mint jelly has become forever associated with roast lamb. However you serve it, flavor-rich mint jelly is an easy way to use an abundance of mint leaves.
What You’ll Need: 2 cups mint leaves (tightly packed) / 4-1/2 cups water / 2 tablespoons lemon juice / 1 (1.75 oz.) package dry pectin / 1-2 drops green food coloring (optional) / 5 cups sugar. Yield: About 4 pints.
Place 2 cups of mint leaves in a large pot and crush with a pestle or potato masher. Crushing the leaves releases the oils that give the jelly its flavor. This is also a good time to put the water bath (large pot of water) on the stove to boil so it will be ready once the jelly has been jarred.
Add 4-1/2 cups of water to the crushed mint and bring to a boil. At this time, you may add a drop or two (or more) of green food coloring to give the naturally reddish-brown jelly a “minty” appearance.
Once mint has reached a rolling boil, remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Pour mint infusion through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to remove the leaves.
4 cups of mint infusion is required to complete the recipe. If the strained infusion is less than 4 cups, add water as needed then return to the pot and place on stove.
Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. The lemon juice is used to make sure the jelly is acidic enough to store at room temperature without risk of bacteria forming.
Add pectin to the pot and bring to a rolling boil (a boil that continues to bubble even when stirred).
Once a rolling boil has been reached, add 5 cups of sugar to the pot and return to a rolling boil for one minute. Remove from heat.
Immediately ladle jelly into sterilized pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4″ of headspace. Cap with new lids and sterile bands.
Place jars in boiling water bath to process for 5 minutes. Boiling the capped jars creates an airtight seal necessary for long-term shelf storage.
Remove jars from water bath and allow to cool completely. An audible *pop* should be heard from the contracting lids, indicating a good seal has been formed. Mint jelly may be stored for up to a year without significant loss of flavor. Refrigerate jelly after opening.