By: Anne Hynes
My interest in making jelly began a few years ago when I inherited my grandmother’s recipe box. My grandmother was an avid jelly maker right into her nineties. Amid her recipes was a record of her yearly output of preserving, from 1964-2009. During her 45 years of notes, she made around 8 different jellies a year, everything from marmalade to crab apple. At first I was cautious about trying a recipe because of the use of pectin. All of my grandmother’s recipes called for liquid pectin and research said that the type of pectin called for in a recipe was specific and that substitutions were not straightforward. Luckily, I soon realized that pectin is not difficult to use. Most available in stores come with instructions and sample recipes. The pectin used in the following recipe, Pomona’s Universal, is unique in that it is low methoxyl, which means it gels by using calcium (sold with the pectin). This means the amount of sugar can be reduced to taste and it will still set. My grandmother was right; jelly making is pretty easy, if you have a reliable recipe to follow.
This recipe is very simple. Instead of collecting juice from whole apples and letting it drip in a jelly bag, commercial apple juice is used – a trick my grandmother used and it is a big time saver! The apple juice is reduced by half and flavoured with a strong mint ‘tea’, which is then sweetened and set with pectin.
Mint jelly is a perennial favourite with lamb but it is also a versatile condiment. Why not try it in a sandwich or on a canapé? It is sweet and herbaceous, which makes it great with cheese, meat and bread. If you don’t have the time to make homemade jelly yourself, stop by Sanagan’s (at either location), we have got you covered!
2 ½ bunches mint, washed/dried, separated
1 cup boiling water
4 cups apple juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp calcium water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp Pomona’s Universal pectin
Piece of cheese cloth
– Put 1 ½ bunches of roughly chopped mint in a small bowl. Add boiling water. Cover and let steep minimum 20 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth, measure 1 cup for this recipe.
– Meanwhile, in a wide saucepan, reduce apple juice to 2 cups.
– Add calcium water, vinegar and mint tea. Return to a boil.
– Mix sugar with pectin, stirring to incorporate. Add to boiling juice mixture, stirring continuously to combine. Let come to a full boil, skimming any foam at the surface.
– Remove from heat and test for doneness*. If it is ready, let cool until no longer steaming. Add ½ bunch of mint, chopped very fine. Stir to incorporate.
– Ladle into sterilized jars. Seal with tight-fitting lid.
Makes 2 ½ cups
*To test that your jelly is ready place dollop of jelly on a chilled plate, wait a few seconds for it to cool and gently blow on it. If ripples form, your jelly is ready. If it is not ready, simply return to heat and return to the boil and retest in another minute or two.