Saturday, August 20, 2011

Making Mints in London

Duncan will be the first to admit that it may be something of an obsession: home-made peppermints. There is probably not a week that goes by where he doesn't ask if we can make mints. Of course... here in London, we are still getting the kitchen set up, and i have deferred all his requests with the observation that we are missing ingredients (all of which are being carried home from the store in our knapsacks!) But yesterday, while we were shopping in Waitrose, I finally gave in, and told him that we could make mints if we could find all the ingredients.

sugar, mint, and gelatine

Oddly enough, that was a bit more of a challenge than I had expected. which is a bit silly since there are really only 3 ingredients you have to buy: icing sugar, peppermint extract, and knox gelatin. The challenge came in figuring out the 'new packaging'. I know what those ingredients look like at home, but they are not the same here. And it is not just a matter of a different company's name on the same package, but a matter of different packaging. So, in this country, icing sugar does not come in those flat clear plastic bags (marked with the "Rogers" label, but in paper bags that looked more like small packages of flour). And I thought the gelatin was the packaged mix for some dessert. But, all was well, for (with the help of the store personnel) we found what we needed.

expert mint making skills
We passed on the foodcolouring (or rather, i just didn't see it), and so we produced a batch of classic white mints.  You can see that Duncan's skills at cutting the snakes of dough into the little pillow shapes has remained untouched by the weeks of repose.  :-)

There was, however, a suprise.  The taste.  They do not taste quite the same. Steve (who has never been tempted by them before, has been sneaking them from the tray. 

So... is this just some sort of psychological thing?  Things in London taste better? (this is what Duncan reported to one of the staff people at the library the other day).  I mean, the ingredients are pretty standard: mint flavour, unflavoured gelatine, and sugar.  .... so... the detective in me thinks that maybe the flavour difference is real, and is located in the sugar.  

The sugar I grew up on is Roger's Sugar, which had its Taber refinery which produced its sugar from sugar beets).  This sugar is Tate & Lyle (ah yes... the same Tate who founded the Tate Modern and Tate Britain Museums, the same Tate who was the sugar baron, and remember that sugar is the one product that continues to arrive in London via the Thames!), and it comes from sugar cane.  I always thought that all icing sugars tasted the same.  Apparently not.

... or maybe is IS just the London air that makes the difference?  :-)

1 comment:

  1. ha ha! I was RIGHT! It IS the sugar!.... at least, here is the note my friend Lori emailed me, containing a comment from another webpage! Here is the comment: "PS I had a query a couple of days ago from an American reader about British terms for sugar. Another helpful reader mentioned that US icing sugar contains cornstarch ... here in the UK, Tate and Lyle icing sugar is pure, apart from a little anti-caking agent which doesn't appear to be cornstarch."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.