Yesterday at work, I was telling a co-worker I needed to go by the farmer's market to get some mint to make mint jelly for the can jam this month. He told me to stop at his house on the way home instead and he would clean out his herb garden. It's a pretty well-established herb garden, and it has gotten a bit more unruly each year. He has 4 different kinds of mint (peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint and mountain mint) that he needed to clean-up in the bed, and he has a rosemary bush that can only be described as "out of control."
So, yesterday, I left his house with THREE grocery bags of mint and a "branch" of rosemary that would be the size of a large rosemary plant by itself. A lot of the mint he gave me, he pulled up with roots so I could transplant it to my garden. I planted most of it, but still had almost a whole bag left to cook with.
I got home to start making the jelly and open my copy of the Ball Blue Book (The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing, Edition 32) for the mint jelly recipe I saw a few weeks ago. The recipe calls for apple juice? No pectin? This won't do. I tried making marmalade in January, and all the cooking and spoon testing and plate in the freezer led to disaster for me. So I "googled" mint jelly and got a couple recipes for mint jelly on allrecipes.com that call for pectin. While I was at it, I found a recipe for rosemary jelly, which sounded awesome. Okay, I'm ready to start now. Wait a minute, I thought I had some pectin in the cabinet...
7:12 p.m. and trip number 1 to the grocery store: 2 boxes of pectin and stop by the liquor store for a bottle of Bacardi. Hey, I've got all this fresh mint, I might as well make some mojitos while I'm canning.
Okay, I definitely ready to start now... Get all my ingredients ready and measured. Wait, I only have 2 cups of sugar? Seriously?
8:15 p.m. and trip number 2 to the grocery store (good thing, it's only about 2 miles away) one 5-lb bag of sugar and a lime (for the mojitos).
Okay, now I am for realz ready.
Here are the recipes:
Mint Jelly (from Allrecipes.com) makes about 2 pints
1 1/2 cups of fresh mint leaves and stems
2 Tbs of lemon juice
2 1/4 cups of boiling water
1 drop green food coloring
3 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 container of liquid pectin (6 oz.)
Rinse mint leaves and place them into a large saucepan. Crush with a potato masher or the bottom of a 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 cup of the mint water.
Place the minty water into a saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice and food coloring. 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 from top using a large metal spoon. Transfer the mixture to hot sterile jars and seal. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Rosemary Jelly (from Allrecipes.com) makes about 2 pints
1 1/4 cups boiling water
2 Tb minced fresh rosemary
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 (3 oz.) pouch of liquid fruit pectin
2 drops green food coloring
In a large saucepan, combine boiling water and rosemary. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid. If necessary, add water to measure 1 1/4 cups. Return liquid to pan, add sugar and vinegar. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add pectin, stirring until mixture boils. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam. Add food coloring if desired. Pour hot mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 10 mintues in a boiling water canner.
I made the rosemary jelly first, and I was a little skeptical about what it would taste like--but it was lovely! Sweet and sour and savory all at the same time.
Next, I started on the mint jelly. Jeremy was watching tv and yells "Hey, what are you makin'?" Me: "Mint jelly." He yells back "What? Mint juleps?" This gave me a great idea...
No. It wasn't mixing more drinky drinks. What if I substitute a little bourbon for the water in the mint recipe? I started with a couple tablespoons and about 1 cup of water (of the 1 2/3 total minty-water called for). You couldn't really taste it, and it would be even less when I added the rest of the water. So, I upped it to about 1/3 a cup. Perfect. Sweet, minty and slightly bitter from the bourbon.
This can jam entry is still not without problems, though. I've never made jelly before. Only jam. The jam usually starts setting up before the jars are even filled. The jelly didn't. I had a little bit of the mint jelly left after I filled the jars, so I put it in a bowl and left it on the counter to cool. It set up after about 30 mintues. I processed the jars of jelly and they were still kinda maple syrup consistency, so I thought maybe they just needed to cool to set up. The jars sat on the counter over night, and this morning they were a little closer, but still a little runny. The jars were still slightly warm, though. What's up? At the very least, I think they'll make a good glaze if they don't set up. Either one would be awesome on pork loin, ham or even chicken.
I found a blog entry from Food In Jars about canning mint simple syrup. Since I was making it for mojitos anyway, I canned a pint of that, too. I love mojitos and mint juleps, but I rarely make them. At least this will make it a little easier to whip up a batch since I'll already have this step done.
So, about the morels... My father-in-law gave us a bowl of morels Wednesday. Since I spent all evening running back and forth between the grocery store and canning, I didn't make dinner. At about 10 o'clock, when I was done canning, I realized I was hungry. So, I fried a bunch of the tasty wild mushrooms, dredged ever so lightly in flour, salt and pepper in a little bit of canola oil, while Jeremy mixed mojitos. Maybe not the most nutritous dinner, but it certainly was DELICIOUS!