Mint Simple Syrup

To my surprise, the mint plant that died a horrible death last year, came back with a vengeance earlier this spring. I need to move it to a bigger container as it is straining at the seams. While we were picking basil yesterday, we also gathered enough mint to make mint simple syrup.  I used this recipe from The Hungry Mouse and it was very simple, if you’ll forgive the pun.

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I gave my mint leaves a quick rinse and spun them out in the salad spinner.  Then, I followed the steps in the recipe. The only change I made was to heat the water to boiling in my electric kettle and then whisk it with the sugar until dissolved. The syrup sat and cooled while we had dinner and then I strained it into a pint sized mason jar.

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As you can see, there’s still a few little bits floating around.  A second straining through some cheesecloth would fix that, but I’m not sure I care enough to go to the trouble.  Mint is not my favorite flavor, but I’m hoping this syrup will go well in mixed drinks and lemonade.  So tell me, what would you use it for?



Tomatoes Everywhere

I’ve been canning  a lot lately.  Mostly tomatoes as my co-worker is very generous with her garden.

Roma, Beefsteak, and Heirloom tomatoes.

My first batch was a sort of crushed tomatoes with garlic and Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, thyme, etc.).  I broke a jar, but I believe that was due to a heat discrepancy.  Otherwise, I think they turned out pretty good.

Tomatoes processing in the canner.

Since then I’ve done whole tomatoes (raw pack) and on the docket for this week is this tomato sauce.

(And before you freak out about the towel in the canner… The rack was not situating right and was causing the jars to tip over.  This was the safer alternative.)

Orange You Glad to See Me?

So, apparently “rainy Wednesday in January” translates into “let’s make orange marmalade!” in my mind.  Because today, nothing would have it but to buy the canning supplies I was missing.  (Did I mention I inherited a water bath canner and pressure cooker on New Years?  My mommy loves me!)  Anyway, after some delicious Thai food (Mmm… Pad Thai…), it was time to hit the stove!  My darling hubby sliced and diced the oranges while I zested and juiced the lemon.  We used this recipe courtesy of his royal highness, Alton Brown (all hail the king!).

It is important to note that this is my first canning adventure.  Note the beautiful color of the oranges cooking.  (Although they did not smell beautiful…)

See how big my canning pot is (right) compared to my normal 8 quart spaghetti pot (left)?  It’s ginormous!

The recipe calls for 3lbs, 12oz of sugar.  That’s nearly 8 cups!  It took two of us to add the sugar.  One to pour and one to stir.  Nearly 4lbs of sugar is just too much to pour in a controlled manner with only one hand.  I’m not sure if this marmalade will set up properly, but after cooking it nearly 40 minutes, we decided to just go with it.

And that, kiddies, is just one jars of seven 8oz jars and two 16oz jars.  I do hope it sets up, or we’ll have a whole lot of ice cream toppings on our hands…

Of course, Chloe helped out by giving me a ball to kick while I waited for things to boil and go “Ping!”.