Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Jalapeno Mint Jelly

Every year I promise myself I will be a better gardener. I faithfully read gardening magazines, and plan my future crops while the snow is still piled up on the windowsills. Come May, I am raring to go and plant up herbs and tomatoes and hot peppers to keep my gardens of evergreens company.
Something happens between spring and autumn though. I don't know if it is the mosquitoes of July, the high heat and humidity of the dog days of summer, or just plain laziness. (I am thinking it's likely a combination of the three) But at some point I slow down on the weed pulling, the plant trimming, the care and attention that other gardeners seem to find great pleasure in. I have no excuse, my property is tiny and my gardens even more so.

By the end of the summer the mint has laid any and all of its neighbours to waste (yes, I know, I should have put it in a pot - but that ship sailed years ago) and now sports fuzzy flowers that the bees seem to love. Ok, at least I make someone happy. I do feel obligated to use some of my bounty though, more than for garnishing plates, if only to justify its existence.

That's why I was so excited to find this recipe for Jalapeno Mint Jelly on my friend Pam of Sidewalk Shoes's site. I can bottle up some of my summer bounty and nibble on it when snowbound and dreaming of the next far-away summer.

Jalapeno Mint Jelly
The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round
as found on Sidewalk Shoes
Makes 4 cups

1 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, divided
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

Bring 1 1/2 cups mint and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes to steep. Strain through a lined sieve pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible; discard mint.
Combine mint liquid, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and peppers in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat and boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in pectin and remaining mint.
Ladle into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. (There's more to processing than this, so please read complete canning instructions!)
Mmm, sweet and utterly delightful on crackers with brie. I wonder what I will grow next year?