I grow mint in my garden and love how its fresh scent permeates the air! When people think of mint, they think of cocktails and desserts. Well, today I am posting two yummy ways to enjoy mint in your main course! So let’s get started…
Mint Jelly – makes approx. four 8-ounce jelly jars
Mint jelly is an awesome compliment to lamb, pork chops and roasted duck. It makes for an excellent glaze on any roast and even freshens up vegetables when tossed with green beans or peas! And yes, melting it over ice cream is divine!
1 1/2 cups of firmly packed mint leaves
2 1/4 cups of water2 tblsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups of sugar (I use raw, unbleached sugar)
Green food coloring (optional, the mint jelly is clear otherwise)
1 pouch of liquid pectin
4 8-ounce jelly jars (approx)
The key…Freshness!!! It is important to select the freshest produce when making any meal and even more so when working with herbs. Although I keep a small herb garden handy on my back deck, I head to my garden in the morning to select fresh mint.
After cutting, or purchasing, your mint be sure to clean and rise it with cold water in a colander being sure to remove any leaves that look ill in appearance. I purposely select only the finest leaves when canning. Using your thumb nail, pinch off each perfect leaf you intend to use in the jelly and set aside. Do not use the stem. After measuring 1 1/2 cups of firmly packed mint leaves, chop finely.
In a large saucepan, (I prefer stainless steel) combine mint and 2 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Place cheesecloth over your canning funnel or sieve and have a large glass dish ready to catch the liquid. I use my 2 cup glass measuring cup so I can measure the liquid without having to dump the liquid a second time possibly losing precious liquid. Gently and slowly pour the mint water over the cheesecloth. Let your funnel/sieve sit over the glass dish until enough liquid has dripped giving you a full 1 3/4 cups.
Using my small stainless steel stock pot, I dump in the mint-flavored water, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in the entire package of liquid pectin – squeezing out every last drop!
Boil hard for 1 minute. Set your timer because you do not want to scorch your jelly. Add a couple drops of food coloring if you wish to make it “green” in color. Remove from heat and remove foam.
Be sure to have your jars setting in hot water prior to filling. Hot pack into jelly jars leaving a 1/4″ of head space. Be sure to wipe each jar rim with a warm, wet cloth to ensure a proper seal when applying the lids. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. And remember, processing doesn’t begin until the water is at a rolling boil!
The second way to enjoy Mint in your main course…Pesto!
Now the biggest question I asked myself was, “what do I do with all of this freshly steeped mint?” I just didn’t have the heart to throw it away….so I decided to make a Mint Basil Pesto sauce I could use that evening for dinner. So I cleaned up the canning items, wiped down my cutting boards and got my small food processer out of the cupboard. And away I went…
Mint Basil Pesto. Pesto sauces are great for any meal and can be used with pastas or meats – or both! In this case, I decided to enjoy this pesto on top of chicken, namely because I already defrosted chicken for that evening’s dinner. LOL However, get creative and enjoy it how you traditionally use pesto!
I headed to my herb garden on my back deck and picked about 12 cinnamon basil leaves and 6 sweet basil leaves. Oh, and I couldn’t help but pick 4 Italian oregano leaves as well! Yum! Using a colander, rinse and clean in cold water.
I then used 4 whole garlic cubes, a dash of extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper. I dumped everything into my small food processor and pulsed that baby until I was satisfied with the texture.
Place your pesto either directly onto your dish and enjoy or store it in the fridge in a covered glass dish for later. Later that day when I started preparing dinner, I simply placed the pesto atop each chicken breast, drizzled extra virgin olive oil and squeezed a half of lime over each breast, then covered and popped it in the oven. I let it cook slow at 375 degrees for an hour and a half – then removed the foil and let it crisp for about 10 minutes.
I sure hope you enjoyed my fun way to can mint jelly and create a sassy mint basil pesto to boot! Feel free to freeze your pesto too!!
The Canning Diva