You can check out the Lemon Verbena Lady at her blog http://lemonverbenalady.blogspot.com.
We have had beautiful weather here in the western Pennsylvania area, and I have been INDOORS preserving the herbal harvest. We were part of a garden tour this summer, so I wasn't clipping as many herbs as I normally would have. Also, our summer has been very Seattle-like. We have had warm days, cool nights, and unfortunately my basil has suffered. The Herbal Husband wanted me to cut it and make jelly much earlier in the season. I am so glad I waited!
So I took my basil out of its misery last week and started making scented basil jelly. The recipe is a tried and true favorite of mine from Renee Shepherd & Fran Raboff's cookbook, Recipes from a Kitchen Garden or Renee's website, Renee's Garden. It was also mentioned in the March 2009 Herb Companion article "In Basket." Here is a happy basil bed in Cleveland, Ohio at the Western Reserve Unit's beautiful herb garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
I love its jewel tone qualities. I made a box (12 jars) of lemon basil jelly and eight jars of cinnamon basil. I planted three plants of each varieties. Note to self: Plant more basil next year! I think it is so interesting that it looks like there is cinnamon in the cinnamon basil jelly because of its color!
I use this recipe as a quick appetizer. Spoon some jelly over the cream cheese and serve with crackers. Use it in the middle of thumbprint cookies or use it in the last 15 minutes of baking chicken or pork in the oven as a glaze. Herbal yumminess! I am going to be making lemon verbena jelly later this week. I use the scented basil recipe as a foundation replacing the basil with lemon verbena and the rice vinegar with apple cider vinegar. It works very well. I will be making herb vinegar next time.
Scented Basil Jellies
Makes four 8-ounce jars
• 1½ cups packed fresh anise, cinnamon, opal or lemon basil
• 2 cups water
• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
• Pinch of salt
• 3½ cups sugar
• 3 ounces liquid pectin
1. Wash and dry the basil in paper towels, then coarsely chop it. Put the basil in a large saucepan and crush the leaves, using the bottom of a glass. Add the water, bring slowly to a boil and boil for 10 seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat; cover and let sit for 15 minutes to steep.
2. Strain 1½ cups of liquid from the saucepan and pour through a fine strainer into another saucepan. Add the vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a hard boil, stirring. When the boil can't be stirred down, add the pectin. Return the portion that can't be stirred down to a hard boil and boil for exactly 1 minute; remove saucepan from heat.
3. Skim off the foam and pour the hot jelly into four hot, sterilized (sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes) half-pint jelly jars. Leave ½-inch (or less) headspace and seal at once with sterilized 2-piece lids. I just leave my lids in hot water not boiling until you need them. Can the jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Recipe from Recipes from a Kitchen Garden by Renee Shepherd & Fran Raboff, Berkeley (Ten Speed Press, 1993).
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