Basil Jelly

20171029_070431When was the last time you saw something like basil jelly in the grocery store?  I never have, but I know it exists because my mom would make it from scratch.  That’s the wonderful thing about making your own goodies is that you get to have so many options available to you.

Purple Basil gives a lovely garnet color to this jelly, but any variety of basil will work.

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Now I know that basil may not spring to your mind as the most obvious thing to make jelly out of, but with the right combination of ingredients, all sorts of possibilities come forth.  The slightly spicy flavor of basil, along with sugar, and a burst of tang from vinegar create an elixir that you won’t be able to resist.  It pairs so well with the saltiness in peanut butter, or buttered toast.


Basil Jelly Recipe

  • Difficulty: moderate
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To make this, you will need to read the instructions for making Apple-Pectin and if you are new to canning also read Food Canning 101.  For this recipe, use the following proportions for every 1 pound of apple cores and peels:

  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • 1 cup basil, any variety, packed (I used some purple basil which gave a lovely garnet color), then coarsely chopped

For every cup of liquid extracted from the apple/basil mix you will use:

  • 1/3 c. vinegar
  • 3/4 c. sugar

This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of jelly (2 half-pints) per pound of apples.  I usually do a double recipe to make it worth the time.  You can make the juice and stop there until later by freezing or refrigerating it, in which case you won’t need to prep your jars, yet.  Otherwise, start by putting your clean jelly jars (always use more than you think you’ll need) into your water bath pot, cover pot and bring water to boil.  You can reduce heat to a simmer while still covered to keep jars hot until you are ready.  Put your flat lids into a small pot of water, bring to boil, and reduce to a simmer until ready to use.

20171028_143747Have a wide mouth funnel, cooling rack, ladle, and jar rings all ready to go.  Don’t try to prep while your jelly is cooking or you may find yourself with either burned food or contaminated food.  Neither is good.

Put your apple cores and peels into a large stock-pot and simmer covered for at least 15-20 minutes.  Apples should be almost soft.  Add your chopped basil and mash the contents with a potato masher.  Simmer for another 10 minutes and mash again.  The apples should be fairly soft by now, if not, check again in another 5-10 minutes.  Once the apples are soft enough to be easily mashed, give them another good mashing then turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool in the pot for at least 30 minutes.

20171030_132125Place a muslin cloth in a strainer and pour apple mixture in.  (Edit: I find it much easier and more productive if I strain out the solids in a colander or strainer without the cloth first, then strain it through the cloth to remove the fine particles.  Hey, you’re never too old to learn, right?)  Allow to drain.  Gather up ends of cloth and twist to get the last bits of juice out.  Your apple “gunk” is ready for the compost pile, and if you have a good quality cloth you can wash it and use it again.  At this point you have the juice for the jelly, not the jelly, yet!  You can refrigerate or freeze the juice and continue with the remaining steps later, if needed.

Measure your liquid and add the appropriate amounts of vinegar and sugar.  You shouldn’t process more than 4 cups of the liquid (before adding vinegar and sugar) at a time.  It adds too much time to the processing which can cause your pectin to break down, and you can also have the jelly foam up too much where it can overflow the pot.

20171030_151409Place your jelly mixture into a large stockpot fitted with a thermometer (see Food Canning 101!).  Bring your liquid to a boil* without stirring and continue to boil** until the gelling point is reached.  This is 10 degrees above the boiling point of water at your elevation.  For me at near sea-level, I remove my pot from the heat the moment it hits 222 degrees.

*Once your mixture reaches 5 degrees before your gelling point temperature, remove jars and flat lids from their water baths.  Place both jars and lids upside down on a cooling rack to allow any water to drain.  Make sure lids are not stacked on each other.

**If your jelly threatens to foam over your pot, wave a wooden spoon through the bubbles to break them up.  Do not stir your jelly!  Just break up the bubbles.

20171030_151547Work quickly to fill jars and put the lids on them, one at a time.  Screw the rings on snugly, and turn the jars upside down.  This heats the lids and ensures that you will have a good and clean seal.

20171028_102619Once all jars are filled, flip each one back over carefully as they will still be hot.  Set them somewhere out of the way to cool completely.  Be patient, don’t try checking if they have set.  If you keep messing with the jars they may not set at all!  Once the jars are cool you should see that they have gelled.  This can actually take a couple of days to get a complete set.  Remove rings from lids, wipe down rims and rings with a clean, damp cloth, check that the flat lid is sealed well, and then replace rings.  Any jars that didn’t seal, or any partially filled jars, should be placed in the refrigerator for immediate use.  Enjoy!

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