A secret recipe was received from a French prisoner of war and handed down over generations produces the local delicacy known as ‘Jethart Snails’. Jethart Snails are small peppermint boiled sweets enjoyed worldwide and still hand made in the town today.
The recipe’s origins
Jedburgh Castle Jail now a museum and the only example of a Howard Reform Prison in Scotland sits in a commanding position overlooking the town and is said to be where the Jethart Snails recipe originated. The original Royal Jedburgh Castle occupied the site from the 12th Century and had a turbulent past with many skirmishes between the Scots and the English. It was eventually demolished by the Scots in 1409 to prevent it falling back into English hands. Ancestors of the Millar family befriended one of these prisoners and in return for the kindness bestowed upon him by the family he gave them the recipe for what was to become Jethart Snails.
How Jethart Snails are made
The recipe was carefully guarded and handed down over the generations. The Snails are peppermint boilings which are heated for about 3/4 of an hour and then cooled and shaped whilst still warm. The main ingredients are sugar, butter, cream of tartar and peppermint with an added ingredient which still remains a secret today. Peppermint is added and the mixture is folded for about ten minutes to get rid of any hard edges and allowed to cool. The mixture whilst still warm is stretched by hand, cut and then moulded into the shape of a snail. Jethart Snails are normally made in the winter as the summer is said to be too hot to produce the correct recipe. Sadly the recipe left the Millar family, but the sweets are still hand made in the town. The sweets are sold locally and are a huge hit with tourists. They have also been shipped all over the world to locals now living abroad who perhaps cannot live without the distinctive taste of the Jethart Snail or perhaps they remind them of home.
The snails are available from
Heart of the Borders and
AJ LearmonthClick to watch snails being made.