With the end of summer and a full supply of fresh mint from my backyard, I decided to make some mint jam. We love lamb and having home made mint jam always available seemed to be the right thing to do. Of course there are lots of other ways to use it but for us is normally mainly with lamb.
It was a fun process, simple and straight forward but as always, I did my home work first. The original recipe is here. I normally search for 2 or 3 recipes from different sources to find the right balance when I am trying a recipe for the first time, reading the reviews helps a lot too. It wasn’t my first time making jam but it was the first time I used pectin, which really makes things a lot easier.
I had to go for more homework to learn how pectin works:
Pectin needs the proper ratio acidity and sugar to make jams or jellies set, it is a natural
complex carbohydrate present in the ripening process of citrus fruits that becomes a gelling agent. Apples, guavas, plums, gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits contain large amounts of pectin as oppose as soft fruits (cherries, grapes and strawberries). Pectin also has a wide range of medical applications and has been around for quite a long time. At CERTO website you can find information about the types of pectin that are available.
I used liquid pectin. This recipe will not work with other type of pectin.
However I did find the jam too sweet, which is caused by the necessary ratio of sugar when you’re using this kind of pectin. I later learned that there is such a thing as a low-sugar pectin. There are a couple of different options such as the Sure-Jell’s “Low Sugar” pectin, or Pomona’s Universal Pectin which uses a calcium water solution (included in the box) to create the set rather than the sugar/acid reaction needed for other commercial pectins. This allows you to reduce the sugar significantly, or even use honey instead of granulated sugar. I will certainly go for those in my next batch.
If you like sweet jam this recipe is right for you. In my case, enjoying this mint jam with lamb will camouflage the “too sweet effect”. I also will be able to control the sweetness when using it for salad dressing, so my fresh mint jam batch won’t be wasted.
As important as the recipe itself, is the preparation to sterilize the canning jars, which I followed from here.
It is a project that requires full attention but it really doesn’t take the whole day to do it. I started by sterilizing the jars. In the mean time I had time to gather all the ingredients and get everything ready to go.
I did not add any green food coloring, I like the natural yellowish appearance of the jam, but you might prefer otherwise and get the pretty green color using one drop of food color. Next time I will keep some of the leaves tiny pieces to get a more rustic look.
Fresh mint jelly
4 – 1/2 pint jars
1 1/2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/4 cups boiling water
1 drop green food color – optional
3 1/2 cups white sugar
3 ounce liquid pectin (1 pouch) *
* it is not interchangeable with other type of pectin
Rinse off the mint leaves, place them into a large saucepan and crush it with a potato masher or the bottom of a jar or glass. Add water, and bring the mint to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain, and measure out 1 2/3 cups of the mint.
Place 1 2/3 cups mint into a saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice and food coloring if using. Mix in the sugar, and place the pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is boiling, stir in the pectin. Boil the mixture for a full minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim foam off the top using a large metal spoon. Transfer the mixture to hot sterile jars, and seal.
Fill hot 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) headspace. Cover with prepared discs. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. Boil in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.
Turn off heat. Uncover and let jars stand in canner for 5 minutes. Lift up rack. With canning tongs, transfer jars to cooling rack; let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.