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Habanero Mint Jelly

recipe from Food & Wine

– 2 habaneros (from mr. jonez’s garden)
– 1 cup small mint sprigs
– 3½ cups sugar
– 1 cup water
– ½ cup apple cider vinegar
– One 3-ounce pouch liquid pectin
– 1 drop food coloring

LIQUID vs POWDER PECTIN. This was my first jelly, first pectin experience so I didn’t know what to expect. Moreover, I didn’t know if the randomly-purchased powder pectin in my cabinet could substitute for the liquid pectin. (Apparently it can, but you have to change the order ingredients are added.)

GREEN APPLE vs STORE-BOUGHT PECTIN. This store-bought liquid pectin experience was a little…unnerving. There’s something about pouring this clear, sticky goop into my fresh produce mixture that just seemed so wrong. And don’t even get me started on trying to clean the pot, spoon, ladle, and funnel that it comes in contact with. Next time I want to try Canning for a New Generation’s method of boiling green apples to extract the pectin naturally found in them. Sounds so wholesome and friendly! (Like me!)

FOOD COLORING. All the chile and/or mint jelly recipes I’ve found want you to add a drop of food coloring or red onion skins/plums/cranberries to enhance the color. But why does it matter? As you can see in the photo above, I made two different batches of jelly: one with 2 seeded habaneros and 1 drop food coloring (the darker one), and one with 2 unseeded habaneros sans food coloring. For me, I think the natural yellow hue is quite pretty on its own. (Although in this case, it is kinda nice to visually distinguish between the two versions.)

HOTNESS. I like spice that’s more peck on the cheek than bear hug. The version of jelly I made with 2 seeded habaneros had only the slightest kick (handshake hotness in my book). The other unseeded version definitely had a bear hug kick to start but then it faded away after only a couple seconds. Strange, eh? I wonder why it wasn’t stronger or lasted longer. Maybe it’s because the recipe called for minced chiles whereas I only diced? (Note to self: laziness ruins all the fun.)

This great article from F&W cites lamb chops, lamb burgers, and corn muffins as delicious pairings. Mr. Jonez also had great luck using it as a glaze on roast chicken.