Value for money: Mint jelly

You can have it sweet or sharp, but the best – and cheapest – option is to make it yourself

 

BALLYMALOE MINT JELLY
€2.89
The Ballymaloe people did not get where they are today by making bad products so it should come as no surprise to learn that this is really rather good. It is made with 4 per cent mint and the leaves have not been processed to death so retain a surprising degree of texture and flavour despite being almost drowned in sugary jam. The jam has a considerably less jelly-like texture than its closest competitor – from Tesco – and it is all the better for that. We liked the purity of the ingredient list. Obviously, price is a factor and it is the dearest of the store-bought products we tried, but, given its nature, a single jar should go a long way.
Verdict: Very good
Star rating: ****

TESCO MINT JELLY
€0.95
This is on the opposite end of the scale to the Ballymaloe mint jelly both in terms of price and – sadly – quality. It is incredibly sweet for a start and we weren’t entirely sure if we should be serving it with spring lamb or spreading it on our toast. It is made with just 1 per cent mint leaves but what was worse was that any hint of a mint flavour appears to come from the artificial flavourings added to the mix. It is cheap but still a waste of money.
Verdict: Very poor.
Star rating: *

COLMAN’S MINT SAUCE
€1.50
Eagle-eyed readers will spot that this is a sauce rather than a jelly. This might displease some people, but Pricewatch was delighted. It lacks the sweetness of the jellies and its significantly more watery texture means a little dollop will go a lot further. You would want to like vinegar, mind you, as it is incredibly sharp. It is made with 25 per cent mint and is all the better for it. It is good value for money, widely available and utterly reliable.
Verdict: An old reliable.
Star rating: ***

DIY OPTION
Virtually free
Pricewatch has a mixed record when it comes to keeping herbs alive and by mixed we mean pretty terrible. The one exception is mint. Even the most blue-fingered gardener could successfully plant and grow this herb such is its weedlike-quality and it does pretty well in an Irish climate which means that once you plant your first plant will have a lifetime supply of mint sauce at virtually no cost. It doesn’t even require any ability in the kitchen to make. A handful of mint leaves finely shredded, a splash of both hot water and vinegar and tiny sprinkle of sugar and you are good to go. In value for money terms it is impossible to beat. Truth be told, we actually prefer Coleman’s to our DIY version but another natty trick is to mix a little store bought sauce into your DIY option to give it a lift.
Verdict: Excellent value.
Star rating: *****

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