Making Herb Jelly

Herb jellies can be made from any combination of your favorite herbs.

At the end of the summer season most people who grow herbs have lots of extra herbs. There are all kinds of ways to preserve them for winter. Most herbs dry well. Many, like basil, parsley and cilantro, freeze well (chop up in a food processor with a little bit of cooking oil and freeze in ice cube trays; or, just put sprigs of the herbs in plastic bags, push out the excess air and freeze). But herb jellies are also a great way to preserve summer flavors for those cold winter mornings ahead. Here's a basic jelly recipe that can be used for most any herb.

Basic Herb Jelly recipe

2 cups of your favorite fresh herb leaves or flowers (if using dry herbs, use 1 cup)
2 cups water, apple juice or white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
4 cups sugar (white or brown)
3 ounces liquid fruit pectin
pinch of salt
1-2 drops food color, optional

Wash half-pint jelly jars in the dishwasher, or sterilize in boiling water. Keep jars hot until ready to fill with jelly. Use new Ball or Kerr canning lids, and keep them in hot water.

Coarsely chop your chosen herbs and put in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water or juice and bring to a constant boil for about 10 seconds. Remove from heat and let stand until completely cooled. Strain, discarding herbs, so that you have 1 1/2 cups of the liquid.

Pour the herbal infusion (liquid) into a large cooking pot and add lemon juice or vinegar and the sugar. Bring to a hard boil, then add the liquid pectin and continue to boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam and discard it.

Pour the hot jelly immediately into hot, half-pint jelly jars, filling them to within 1/2 inch of the top. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp cloth and screw on the hot lids, just lightly tightening. Tip the covered jars upside down for about a minute to coat the inside and create a seal. Place right side up on a towel and let cool. Label and store in a cool, dark place. Your jelly will keep for 1-2 years.

You can use fresh or dried herbs for jelly making. If using dry, use twice as much as when using fresh.

Herbs that work well in the above jelly recipe include: basils, such as cinnamon, Thai, spicy, etc.; chives, chamomile, beebalm, ginger, lavender, fennel, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, marjoram, mint, parsley, scented geraniums, tarragon and rose. Combine herbs you would use in cooking, such as thyme, rosemary and sage, to use for Thanksgiving. Use orange juice instead of fresh lemon juice with orange thyme or scented geranium. Try white baslamic vinegar with tarragon to use on holiday rolls or breads. Use dried rose petals and scented geraniums together. Try basil and blackberry juice with a bit of lemon juice for a jelly. The combinations are endless.

Here's a good lavender jelly recipe that's quick and easy. If you make thumbprint cookies, use lavender jelly in the middle for a surprising burst of flavor.

Lavender Jelly
Use this between layers of cake. Spread on toast, use it in frosting mix for cupcakes. Try a teaspoon or two in your afternoon tea.

4 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
4 tablespoons powdered pectin
3 cups apple juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups brown sugar

Tie up lavender flowers in double thickness of cheesecloth, securing with string.
Combine pectin and apple juice in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the pectin. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add lemon juice and sugar, stir, then add the lavender cheesecloth bag. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove bag of lavender and discard. Strain hot jelly through cheesecloth into sterilized jars and seal (I use 2-piece jelly lids, kept hot in boiling water but some people prefer the old method of sealing with paraffin).

Cinnamon Basil makes an excellent jelly for all sorts of winter uses.
 Lemon Verbena Jelly

3 cups apple juice
1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 package powdered pectin
4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspon butter
1 fresh herb leaf for each jar
2 - 3 drops green food coloring (optional)

In saucepan, make herb infusion with juice and herb by bringing juice to a boil and adding the verbena leaves. Boil for about 10 seconds, then let cool completely. Strain and discard leaves. You'll need 1 1/2 cups of herb infusion liquid.

Combine the herb infusion with lemon juice (or vinegar), food coloring and pectin. Bring to a rolling boil. Mix in sugar and bring to a full rolling boil again. Boil hard for one minute. Add butter, stir. If any foam remains, skim off and discard. Pour into hot sterilized jars with optional leaf in each jar. Wipe jar edges with damp cloth, then screw on hot jar lids, tightening moderately but don't over-tighten. Turn jars upside down to seal, for about 30 seconds. Turn upright and let cool on dishtowel. Store in a dark, cool place.


Lemon Verbena Lady said...

I needed you yesterday, Jim. I can make jelly in my sleep, but in front of an audience not so good!:( It wasn't my day.

Bonnie K said...

Very intersting. I love parsley and planted way too much this year. I wonder what that jelly would taste like. Thanks for the interesting idea.

Jim Longs Garden said...

Parsley jelly is actually quite good. Consider using apple juice as the base.