The Spirit of Sharing

It seems the surge in home gardening has become a surge in home canning. How awesome is that? Not only are more people growing food, but they are doing it well enough to need long term preservation and storage. This is a major win for everyone. The only down side is that mason jars, as well as replacement lids and bands, have become harder to find recently.

After reading a social media post of my troubles locating enough jars for my tomatoes, my super generous sister gifted me a dozen quarts. That is the thing about sisters. Christmas presents show up when you need them, not necessarily at Christmas.

I thanked my sister for her generosity. I also warned her that she would very likely receive some jars back, full of various stuff. It just happened that we had a small get-together planned for our father’s birthday this weekend- a perfect opportunity to give a full jar back. With what did I fill the jar? Just watch…

Step one: Harvest and wash a lot of mint. My mint plants are exuberantly productive this year, so this was very easy. It took a good bit of soaking to get the sprigs clean, as we had some rain this week.
Step two: infuse the ethanol. Stuff the clean mint leaves into a large jar and cover with one quart of 100 proof vodka. Save the expensive, premium label stuff for martinis and use a budget brand for this.
Step three: agitate for maximum flavor extraction. Place the lid on the jar, shake the jar violently, and set the jar in the refrigerator. For the next 24 hours, shake the jar every time you open the refrigerator.
Step four: make a syrup. The next day, mix one cup of sugar and one half cup water in a small sauce pan. Place the pan on medium-high heat. Add a handful of fresh mint leaves. Smash the leaves with a spoon while the sugar dissolves in the water. Once the syrup is bubbling and clear, remove it from heat
Step five: bring it all together. Pull the mint leaves out of the vodka. Pour the vodka through a strainer to get all the little bits out. Pour the syrup though the strainer as well and mix the minty vodka with the minty syrup.
Here it is- home made creme de menthe, ready for giving. The whole leaf extract gives it a full, well-rounded mint flavor, unlike the commercial stuff that tastes like mouth wash. Also, there are no added colors to turn your tongue green.

As you can see, my sister was quite pleased to get a jar back from us. She texted me later; she and my brother in law had sampled the creme de menthe and enjoyed it. I might make more for Christmas gifts. I certainly have the mint leaves for it!

DIY culture is all about sharing, be it information, materials, ideas, or tools. What have you been sharing this season? Let us know in the comments.