Last summer I planted the largest garden I’ve ever had. We were blessed to have an abundant harvest despite the fact that many of our plants suffered from a number of ailments due in great part to my inexperience as a gardener. It was the summer I learned to water bath can. Between the produce sales and bountiful harvest from our garden, I spent many happy hours preserving summertime in mason jars.
This year, having more than doubled the size of our garden, I sometimes I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. But the elation I feel as we begin to enjoy the fruits of our labor and anticipate the coming hot weather fruits and veggies quickly wipes out any sense of doubt I feel. Many of the plants are blossoming and showing signs of a much more plentiful harvest than last year.
As I wait for summer’s bounty, I decided to kick off the summer canning season by making some jelly. One of my favorite things to preserve are herbs, and I especially enjoy capturing their distinctive flavors in jelly. There’s nothing like opening a jar of herb jelly in the dead of winter and smearing the fabulous summer flavors on a cream cheese laden cracker or enjoying an herb jelly filled thumbprint cookie.
Basil is hands down my favorite herb as evidenced by more than half a dozen different varieties I am currently growing in my garden. You could say I have a bit of a basil obsession. I have a compulsion to buy every new variety I stumble upon in the garden centers. Thai basil or Asian basil is one of my favorite varieties to preserve as jelly. A few months ago I tried using some Thai basil jelly in a lemon thumbprint cookie and the results were so spectacular that I’ve made the recipe at least three times already. The unique anise flavor of the basil pairs beautifully with the buttery lemon cookie.
My last lonely jar of Thai Basil Jelly was destined for yet another batch of some Lemon and Basil Thumbprint cookies. Happily, there was just enough in the garden ready to be harvested to make another batch of jelly!
First, I gathered the herbs and washed them thoroughly.
I removed the stems the blossoming tops of the plant and measured out 2 cups.
All the leaves went into a large pot with 4 cups of water.
I brought it up to a boil and then allow everything to steep for 10 minutes.
Next it’s time to remove the basil leaves from the liquid. I really love this straining spoon I found at Bed Bath and Beyond.
I strained out the rest of the tiny bits using my fine mesh strainer.
I then measured out 3 2/3 c. of the liquid, added it back to the pot and stirred in the pectin.
At this point I added a bit of green food color and the sugar.
With everything in the pot, I brought the mixture up to boiling again and let it go for 1 minute. I removed it from the heat and skimmed off the foam.
After I ladled the jelly into the jars, wiped the rims and added the lids and bands, they went into the boiling water bath to process for 15 minutes.
The resulting six and a half, half pints.
Happiness in jars! I can sleep a little easier now that I know my stash has been replenished! Now it’s time to make some Lemon & Thai Basil Thumbprint Cookies…
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 package (1-3/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin
- 3 drops green food coloring, optional
- 5 cups sugar
Yield: 6 half-pints.