NZ Woman's Weekly

How to make mint sauce and mint jelly

There is nothing quite as Kiwi as serving mint sauce with your roast lamb dinner. We inherited our mint sauce habit from our British and Irish ancestors but the use of mint as a flavouring dates back to medieval times. When I was growing up, roast lamb was never served without a mint sauce whipped up by Mum just before dishing up. She would get me to climb the hill to our neighbour’s house where she had an “arrangement” that we could help ourselves to the huge mound of mint he had growing in the base of an old water tank.

Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow so why not plant some in your garden? I really encourage you to make your own mint sauce or jelly because the ones you buy often contain artificial green colouring and far too much sugar. I hope you enjoy trying out these two very old recipes.

Mint sauce
This is my mother’s recipe which I found in her cooking notebook. It takes just a moment and is well worth the effort.

  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 2 tbsp malt vinegar

1. Wash and dry the mint in a tea-towel. Remove the leaves from the stalks, chop very finely and put in a small serving jug.

2. Put the sugar and boiling water into a small pot and boil for one minute.

3. Pour the vinegar over the chopped mint then add the hot water and sugar mix. Stir well before serving.

Mint jelly

  • 1kg tart green apples (Granny Smiths)
  • 1 litre water
  • Juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 tsp citric acid
  • Large bunch of mint
  • 500g sugar to every litre of juice

1. Wash and cut the apples into slices. Do not core or peel. Put into a large saucepan or preserving pan with the water, lemon juice or citric acid and 10 sprigs of mint.

2. Bring this to the boil and cook until it forms a soft pulp, mashing occasionally. Strain the mixture through a jelly bag or a very fine cloth such as a cotton tea towel or piece of muslin and allow to drip overnight.

3. Measure out the juice you have strained and match that amount with the sugar using the calculation of 1 litre juice to 500g sugar. So if you have 0.5 litres of juice use 250g sugar.

4. Put the juice and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add some more finely chopped fresh mint – about 2 tbsp. This is for colouring and texture.

5. Boil until it forms a jelly. You can test it is ready by taking off the heat then pouring a few drops onto a saucer. Put the saucer in the freezer for a few minutes and if it forms a jelly when you remove it then the mixture is ready.

6. Pour into small sterilised jars and seal tightly.

  • You can add a few drops of green food colouring if you really want it to be bright green but it looks great as it is. If you do add colouring check that you are using natural food colouring, not artificial.
  • These jars make great gifts to take to a dinner party, especially if you are having roast lamb!
  • If you are a fan of mint tea and want to make it yourself you won’t be able to use ordinary mint. Instead, find a peppermint plant and use that.

Do you have a Nana recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at: or write to Nana’s Pantry, NZWW, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.


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