This type of jelly uses fruit which is naturally high in pectin – such as crab-apples or quince – rather than gelatine to achieve its set. They are thought to have originated with apple jellies, which were sweet and served for dessert. Historically, flowers such as roses or clove pinks (gillyflowers) were added, with recipes dating from the sixteenth century. Over the centuries, however, these type of jellies began to be served as an accompaniment for meat rather than as a dessert. The addition of chopped fresh herbs to an apple base creates herb jellies, with mint jelly both the best-known and most popular of traditional herb jellies.
Here at Rosebud our approach to the preserves we make is very simple. As John explains, it’s about “keeping the integrity of the good ingredients that we’ve sourced and treating them with respect.”
Our Mint Jelly is made in the traditional way. As with all our preserves, we make it in small batches which allow us to maximise flavour and maintain quality. We use Bramley apples simmered slowly in water, then strained through muslin bags overnight to create a base which is rich in natural pectin, rather than simply adding in commercial pectin. “We put that apple water in the pan with golden granulated sugar, bring it up to setting point and fold the fresh spearmint through it,” says John. It sounds straightforward – and indeed it is - but what we do takes time and care. The results of making jelly in this way is visible in its beautiful, glowing look and delicate texture. We simply don’t take short cuts that would impinge negatively on flavour and texture.
Mint – long valued for its digestive properties - of course, goes wonderfully well with roast lamb. The herb’s refreshing, clean flavour is an excellent contrast with the fatty richness of roast lamb. In 1633 the English herbalist John Gerard wrote evocatively that ‘the smell of mint does stir up the mind and the taste to a greedy desire of meat.’ While some people enjoy mint sauce – with its sharp vinegary tang – with roast lamb, we think our mint jelly is the perfect accompaniment to a splendid roast leg of lamb. With its lovely colour and jewel-like set, we think it certainly deserves its place on the celebratory Easter table. “Our jelly is minty but without being overpowering, because of the slight sweetness to its base,” says John. “The base carries a lot of flavour in itself because of how natural its. And because we use a natural set, you just put the jelly in your mouth and it melts.”