Fresh Mint and Pepper Jelly
Makes 3 pints. Recipe is by Lanier Cordell, chair, Baton Rouge Unit of the Herb Society of America.
11/2 cups fresh mint (packed, leaves and stems)
21/4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 (3-oz.) bottle fruit pectin or 1 (1.75-oz.) box powdered fruit pectin
5 cups granulated sugar
1 to 2 tsps. red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper (see note)
6 half-pint jars, or equivalent, and lids
1. Wash mint. Remove any brown leaves or stems, and dry. Chop dried leaves and stems coarsely in a food processor or by hand.
2. Put chopped leaves and pineapple juice into a 2- to 3-quart stainless steel pot. Heat to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let stand 15-30 minutes.
3. Pour the steeped mixture through a fine sieve and press hard with the back of a large spoon to remove as much liquid as possible, reserving liquid. Throw mint solids in the compost bin or dispose.
4. Stir in lemon juice and add enough water to equal 4 cups of mint infusion. Put mint infused juice and pectin in an 8-quart sauce pot and stir well. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in sugar quickly, return to a full rolling boil and allow to boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam from top. Stir in pepper.
5. Ladle into sterilized jars. Seal according to jar directions, using either a hot water bath or melted paraffin.
Note: Adding the pepper flakes before bringing the mixture to a boil may irritate your eyes. To substitute fresh peppers, remove seeds from peppers and finely chop to create an equivalent of 1-2 tablespoons, depending on how much heat you want. Add fresh peppers before bringing the entire batch to a 2-minute boil.
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