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Making the Most of Nature’s Harvest: Apple and Mint Jelly

I had another go at using up some of glut of cooking apples this week. With pies in the freezer and Bramble and Apple Gin infusing, it was hard to decide what to do next (I still have bramble and apple jam left from last year so no point in doing that). Apples are rich in pectin, which is what makes jams and jellies set, so going down the jelly route seemed like the obvious thing to do. With large clumps of apple mint in the garden, ready to be cut back, I decided to go for apple and mint jelly. Apple mint has a more delicate flavour than garden mint (we have none of that!), I was hoping that the mint flavour wouldn’t be lost altogether.

I used this recipe from The Cottage Smallholder.

  • 1.8 kilos (4 pounds) of cooking apples (Bramleys are ideal).
  • 20g (3/4 ounce or 3/4 cup) bunch of mint tied with string
  • 50g (1 3/4 ounces or 2 cups) of mint leaves chopped fine
  • 570ml / 1 UK pint (2 1/2 cups) of water
  • 570ml / 1 UK pint (2 1/2 cups) of white wine vinegar
  • Sugar at a ratio of 454g (1 pound) to 570ml of liquid – a pound to a UK pint of liquid (2 1/2 cups)

There’s a bit of maths involved in calculating the exact amount of vinegar and sugar involved after the juice is extracted. The online recipe gives instructions for both using a fruit steamer and a jelly bag to extract the juice. I used my trusty, bramble-stained jelly bag.

You start off roughly chopping the apples. No coring or peeling is needed as those parts of the apple have loads of pectin – I just removed the stalks and any bruised bits. The apple went into a big pan with a load of mint springs.

I added a pint of water, brought to the boil and simmered until the apple had all reduced to a fluffy pulp.

The pan contents were poured into the jelly bag, suspended over a bowl to catch the juice. I weighed the pulp down with a saucer and a bottle of vinegar, to press out as much of the juice as possible and left it to drip through overnight.

I’d used a little more than the prescribed amount of apples and managed to extract just over a litre of juice. I added 4/5 of this quantity in vinegar and calculated the amount of sugar in line with the recipe. The liquid and sugar were added to a large pan and brought to a rolling boil for 20 minutes, then I began checking for a set. I had been concerned that the juice I’d extracted was quite cloudy, but during the boiling stage I skimmed of any scum that formed on the surface – the resulting liquid was very clear.

I use the cold saucer method – a couple of saucers go in the freezer when you start, then you keep dropping a little of the hot mixture on a cold saucer until it wrinkle slightly when you push it with your finger. I repeated the test every couple of minutes, alternating the saucers and replacing them in the freezer. It took another 10 minutes of boiling before I got a set. After 10 minutes I stirred in the finely chopped mint. I also added some green food colouring, but this was making so little difference to the colour of the liquid that I gave up. I poured the jelly nto sterilised jars and sealed them.

I really should have left the liquid a little longer. The mint floated to the top in the jars. I waited a little longer then shook the jars – this time setting had started just enough to keep the mint evenly suspended. The set jelly seems to gather round the mint fragments. If I’d left it any longer the air bubbles from shaking would have stayed in the jelly rather than floating to the surface.

I ended up with 12 jars of various sizes. Some of these I’ve already given away to neighbours in return for their empty jars for my next preserving project. As I predicted, the jelly is not strongly minty, but still tasty. What’s your favourite jelly recipe?