Sunday, March 3, 2013

Better cook lamb sometime

I came home on Friday night determined to knock off the final recipe in the 'jams and jellies' section, but soon found that mint and apple jelly (p227) wasn't going to be completed in an evening - I'd need to finish it off in the morning.

Before heading to bed, I roughly chopped my apples (no need to peel and core, as it was all going to be strained anyway) and bunged them in a pan with water. I needed them to become soft and pulpy  so while they were cooking, I got the straining setup sorted.

I turned a kitchen chair upside down on the bench and tied each corner of a square of muslin to a chair leg (yes, this is the recommended process). I also placed a large bowl on the base of the chair under the centre of the muslin. The apples didn't take long to cook, so by the time I had the muslin firmly attached, they'd turned to pulp and were ready for straining.

I poured the apple pulp into the muslin, and the juice began slowly seeping through and dripping down into the bowl below. I placed food covers and towels over the top and sides of the chair to stop flies getting in, and went to bed.

In the morning, the liquid had drained out of the pulp, and there was a nice bowl of juice sitting underneath. I measured the juice, which came to exactly one cup (I was doing a half-recipe again). I poured this into a pan and matched it with a cup of sugar.

The mint growing in my garden (in a pot actually, to stop it spreading everywhere) had got a bit scraggly. I had to pick over it a bit to get enough usable mint. When I had enough, I set the leaves aside and tied the stalks in a piece of muslin with some grated lemon rind. That went in the pot, along with the strained lemon juice, and wine vinegar.

I stirred this mixture over a low heat until the sugar had dissolved. There was a thick white scum floating on the surface at this stage, and I wondered if I should skim it off, or if perhaps I had not strained the pulp properly. The recipe didn't mention anything about it, so I decided to forge ahead and see what would happen.

I added the chopped mint leaves and brought the mixture to the boil. To my relief, the scum dissolved almost immediately. After five minutes of rapid boiling, the jelly was ready. I took out the muslin bag and hesitantly added a drop or two of green food colouring. I didn't want it to go an artificial bright green! Luckily, just a small amount was enough to give a slight colour without overdoing it.

The jelly had come together so quickly that my jars weren't ready yet. They needed a few more minutes to sterilise, and by the time the jars were ready, the jelly was already showing signs of setting in the pan. I poured it quickly into the nearest jar - the amount I'd made only filled one jar, but I was quite happy with that.

I've had a little taste of the jelly remnants that clung to the side of the pan, which confirmed my expectation that this is not a sweet 'put it on your toast' sort of jelly - it has a flavour not dissimilar to mint sauce, and is clearly suited to be an accompaniment to a savoury dish - lamb springs immediately to mind!

1 comment:

  1. We had a serious excess of mint in our vege patch, so were debating mint jelly or mint sauce. Went with the sauce, as its not quite apple season yet... Have yet to test any of it, but it looks about right.


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