Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I thought I’d take a break from apples and deal with my basil.  I have lots of basil that I don’t want to go to waste so am going to make some basil jelly and give them as gifts.  I thought I would share my recipes with you so you can use up some of your basil. 

You can also freeze basil in ice cubes and put the ice cubes in a baggie for the winter or you can dry it in the oven at very lowest temperature or dry them in the microwave.  Just don’t let it go to waste. 

For microwaving basil, take a branch of basil, wrap it in a piece of dry paper towel and put it in the microwave for one minute.  You can set a flat piece of bake ware on it if you like to flatten it.  Do not walk away.  Watch it closely to make sure it does not catch on fire.  You will hear it pop as the moisture is dried out.  I replace the piece of paper towel with each branch because it is wet.  You can store the whole leaf or crush it for flakes. I store mine in a mason jar or a baggie for the winter.

Basil Jelly

2 cups packed basil
3 cups boiling apple juice
3 cups sugar
¼  cup lemon juice (bottled)
6 tbs. powder pectin

Wash your basil leaves and let them drain in a colander.

Put the basil leaves in a pot to steep in.  Bring your apple juice to a full boil and pour the boiling juice over the basil. Cover with cloth and let steep for 15 to 30 minutes.  The longer you steep the more basil flavor you will get.  I use a wooden spoon to try and squeeze more flavor out.

Clean and sterilize your jars and lids properly while basil is steeping.  Get your water bath ready for processing.

Add a glass dish to freezer for testing of the jelly.

Strain your basil well from the apple juice.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  You may add green food coloring, if you like.  I like is natural.

Bring to a hard boil.  Once at a hard boil, add in the pectin.  Stir well with a whisk and bring back up to a hard boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.

Test jam on cold dish from the freezer.  If it jells, you're done.  If not, add an extra 2 tablespoon of pectin. Boil again for 10 minutes and test again with cold dish.

Skim off any foam and pour the prepared jelly into a large measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring or do what I do, use a large mouth funnel on top of each jar for easier ladling.  Fill the mason jars leaving an ½ inch space at the top, clean rims, add lids to make sure they seal.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I doubled the recipe on this when I made it.  It made 11 half pints so you should get around 5 half prints with this recipe. 

Variation - You can make this without the apple juice and replace the apple juice with just water, but I like the extra flavor.  Maybe try it both ways to see which you like the best.  You will taste basil either way.

Use the same recipe but use sage, rosemary or thyme to make jelly.  All 3 in a gift bag make another wonderful gift.

Strawberry Basil Jam 

This is a beautiful marriage of strawberry and basil.  Make a strawberry basil jam. Fill your canner ¾ full with water and bring it to a simmer. Sterilize your jars, lids and bands in it.  Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Crush strawberries, and measure 4 cups prepared fruit into 6 or 8 qt. sauce pot. Combined the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice and bring to a full rolling boil, reduce heat, and stir in basil and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars in canner. Process in water bath for 10 minutes.

You can do this with other fruits also, but the basil and strawberry go together beautifully just like tomatoes and basil. 

Tomato Basil Jelly

4 ½ cup blanched, peeled, seeded and finely chopped ripe tomatoes (about 4 1/2 lbs)
¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup bottled lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
4 cup sugar
1 1.75 ounce package powdered fruit pectin
In a 6 or 8 quart pot, bring tomatoes to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Stir basil, lemon juice and salt into the tomatoes.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the pectin. Stir the sugar mixture into tomato mixture. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 3 ¾ cups sugar. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Test by dripping some of the hot mixture into an ice cold bowl and see if it jells.  If it does not add more pectin and tablespoon at a time, boil hard again and test again until it is thick enough.  Remove from heat, skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized half-pint mason jars, leaving ½ inch head space. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool.  Listen for the lids to pop. I love that sound.  This recipe made 7 1/2 pints.

Put this on a piece of crusty bread with some cream cheese.  It is wonderful.  It reminds me of my best friend in high school grandmother.  She used to make tomato preserves and when she made homemade bread every Thursday, I would stop in and get to sample the bread and preserves. I can't have tomato preserves without thinking of Gram Hubner.

This makes a beautiful Christmas gift because of the color also.  Make all 3 and gift in a nice gift bag.  The person receiving them will love them.

You can enjoy your basil well into the winter. 

Have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

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