I wish you could smell the freshness of this mint as I have been processing it this evening whilst I have been watching the television; I have been indulging myself in the new series of Doc Martin, one of my all time favourite programmes (on a couple of holidays down in Cornwall we have run into the cast whilst filming the next instalment in the village of Port Wen (Port Isaac). I have already made one batch and because I am pleased with the flavour of the mint I have set about doing a second batch as well. This type of home made mint cordial in flavour is nothing like a bought version and the colour is more natural too. This recipe is taken from the Preserving Book that I recently purchased. It is a short keeping cordial meant to be kept in the fridge, but I have had some success in hot water processing the bottles for longer keeping. I am therefore experimenting with this recipe with the purpose of longer keeping.
It makes approximately 14 fl oz and will keep for approximately one month refrigerated. If hot water bottled processed it will keep for a much longer period, but once the seal is broken the cordial will have to be kept in the fridge.
To quote from the book:
"This cordial has a delicate menthol flavour - If you like a stronger taste - and have a rampant crop of mint - double the weight of the leaves (but keep the other ingredients the same). Serve with sparkling or still water, or mixed with vodka and crushed ice". I had thought about adding hot water to make my own form of mint tea or it could be used as a base for a mint water ice.
The flavour is very delicate.
My mint came from my local Asian shop at 60 pence a large bunch. One of these bunches weighs about 4oz which is more than enough mint. I doubled up the quantities of mint used for a more enhanced flavour. You can accentuate this recipe with the addition of a few drops of peppermint extrac (only if using spearmint) and/or a few drops of natural green food colouring. It depends on your mint and whether you are happy with the taste and/or the colour. I have used neither of these options at present
1 3/4 oz/50g peppermint, Moroccan mint or spearmint (garden mint) leaves
10oz granulated sugar (300g)
A few drops of natural green food colouring
A few drops of natural peppermint extract
Starting with your fresh mint
Remove the leaves from the stems and put them into a large bowl, add the sugar and pound with the end of a flat based rolling pin or a pestle and mortar to bruise and crush the leaves into a paste, adding a few leaves at a time until all the leaves are used.
This is the paste.
Pour over 10 fl oz/300ml of boiling water, stir, cover and leave to infuse for at least two hours or until the mixture is completely cold. During this time prepare your bottles by sterilising them in boiling water and keeping them warm until you come to strain and bottle the mixture.
Strain through a sieve into a saucepan, pressing and squeezing the mint to extract the maximum amount of flavour.
Heat the pan over a moderate heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to the boil and boil for about 2 minutes. Stir in the colouring and peppermint extract if using at this point. (I have added a couple of spots of green food colouring) as in my particular syrup although pale green in a cup in the bottle it looks very dark so I succumbed and added the colouring but I think it really could do with a little more.
Pour immediately into a warm sterilised bottle using a sterilised funnel, seal, label and leave to cool then store in the fridge. Shake before use.
I heat process the bottles in a baby bottle steriliser. Pop the bottles in and bring to boil, process for 20 minutes once come to temperature (i.e. boil) making sure that the bottle is either completely immersed in a deep container i.e. a stock pot or up to the necks of the bottle. Store on pantry shelf.
This is what is should look like -
N.B. I would put more green food colouring in, in any future batches.
It doesn't taste too bad though.