These delicate shimmering jellies are delicious condiments. Their sweet and savory flavors really sing of summer with jewel-toned colors that are appetizing and beautiful. Herb jellies are wonderful with cream cheese and crackers or bagels. Use the lighter flavors to glaze pies, tarts, and cookies. For main dishes, melt them in a sauce pan and mix in a little dijon mustard to make an outstanding glaze for poultry of all kinds or oven roasted ribs.
Choosing which herb to use for your jelly is simple -- just pick whatever grows in abundance! I like to use basil -- everyone's favorite herb -- or lemon scented herbs such as lemon verbena, lemon thyme or pineapple sage. I've also made sage, thyme, marjoram, and cilantro jellies -- all are different and wonderful.
To make herb jelly, gather about 2 cups of your favorite fresh herb leaves. Wash and drain them, then coarsely chop and put in a medium saucepan. Use the bottom of a glass to crush and macerate the leaves. Add 2 cups of water, bring slowly to a boil, and boil for just 10 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes to release the herb leaves essential flavor.
Strain 1 1/2 cups of this liquid from the pan and pour through the strainer again into another large, deep saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of plain (unseasoned) rice vinegar (if you can't find rice vinegar, use regular distilled vinegar), a pinch of salt and 3 1/2 cups of granulated sugar. Bring the mixture to a hard boil, stirring constantly. When the boil can't be stirred down, add 3 ounces of liquid pectin. (I use Certo brand which comes in 3 premeasured ounce foil packets.) Return to a hard boil that can't be stirred down and boil for exactly one minute, then remove saucepan from the heat.
Skim off any foam and pour the hot jelly into 4 hot, sterilized 1/2 pint jelly jars. Leave 1/2 inch head space and seal at once with sterilized 2 piece canning lids or melted paraffin. I often make 2 or 3 kinds of these jellies to give as little sets. One of my favorite trios is opal basil jelly, which comes out a gorgeous garnet color; green basil, which comes out a lovely green; and lemon thyme, which is a delicate golden-green hue.
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