The abundance of fresh produce is one of the things that makes summertime so much fun. In my garden, the herbs seem to be at their peak, the basil towering over them all. After making batches of pesto, mounds of Caprese Salad, and canning tomatoes with basil, I was looking for more. It was then that I decided to try something that has long been of interest -- basil jelly. I thought I had died and gone to heaven after making green pepper jelly, so had hoped that this would be almost as good. It exceeded my expectations! Refreshingly sweet, with a light taste of basil and hint of peppery kick, this is my new favorite jelly. Served atop cream cheese and spread on crackers, it makes an excellent snack, but pair it with homemade Boursin and you will swoon!
Don’t let the thought of making jelly put you in a catatonic state; you must give this a try. It is really very easy, can be made and in jars processing in under an hour, and will dazzle your guests with its novel deliciousness and your creativity. One thing that I find to be key when making jelly is employing the use of a candy/jelly thermometer (inexpensively found at Michael’s – use your coupon), and always use LIQUID pectin, Certo® if you can find it.
If you prefer not to use the food coloring, eliminate it and your jelly will be almost clear. Personally, I love the beautiful shade that a few drops bring.
Fresh Basil Jelly
1-1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups water
6 1/2 cups sugar
2 (3 ounce) envelopes Certo® liquid pectin
½ teaspoon Melissa’s Red Savina Hot Sauce
(more or less, to taste), optional
2-3 drops green food coloring
Put basil leaves, vinegar, and lemon juice into a large (8-10 quart) stock pot. Meanwhile, measure out the water and the sugar.
Add the water and bring almost to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar all at once; stir to dissolve. Bring mixture to a hard boil. When it reaches a hard boil (so that the boiling cannot be stopped by stirring), add both pouches of Certo®. Stir to blend, and return to a hard boil.
Boil for until jelly point (220°F) is reached, approximately 1-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour mixture through a heat-resistant sieve to remove basil leaves, or, that lacking, quickly remove basil leaves with a slotted spoon.
Stir in hot sauce (if using) and food coloring. Pour immediately into hot sterilized jars.
Seal and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
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