When I started finding recipes for herb jellies, I decided to give it a go. What else, besides drying and storing, was I going to do with all the herbs from the garden? When it came to an herb like lavender, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the jelly. I had to try it anyway. Once I had made the first batch of this Lavender Chardonnay Jelly, I made one or two more. Some went into the last CSA share of 2014, some went into bags and baskets as part of our holiday gift giving, and plenty stayed in the pantry for later use right here at home on toast. My Lavender Pinot Grigio Jelly even won a blue ribbon at the Walsh County Fair!
This recipe can be personalized very easily by making substitutions of the herbs, liquid and acid used. I also made versions using rosemary infused orange juice and rosemary infused cranberry juice. These ended up being more appropriate for glazes or toppings for roasted meat. The cranberry-rosemary is great on pork!
There’s plenty of information out there on canning, so I won’t get to specific on tools and method, just the recipe and basic steps. If you’re new to canning and jelly making try the National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Ball Canning website.
Here’s what you need:
2 1/2 cups Chardonnay or water, fruit juice, vinegar or other wines
1 1/2 cups fresh lavender – I included the flowers stems and leaves. Other choices might include rosemary, thyme, basil, lemon verbena, mint, lemon balm, pineapple sage or any combination that tickles your taste buds (if using dried herbs you can use much less, probably 1/2 cup or so)
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar (white wine, apple cider, rice wine or other)
3 ounces liquid pectin (dry powdered pectin will not give the same results)
4-8 oz jars with bands and lids or about 8-4 oz jars ( I like to have an extra 4 oz jar or 2 ready, just in case of overage)
In addition to the usual jelly making tools, a wire mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth is necessary for straining the steeped herbs.
First, wash and dry your herbs. Roughly chop, then place herbs in a large saucepan and crush them with a wooden spoon or bottom of a heavy glass to help release the oils. Add your liquid of choice and bring to a simmer for a few moments. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 15 to 20 minutes. At this point it should be cool enough to transfer to the fridge. Store here for a few hours to overnight. ( I have read that the cool steeping period in addition to the warm steeping, will give a better transfer of flavor than just using one or the other method.)
Once steeped, test the flavor. If it’s too strong you can add more liquid, if too weak you can warm and steep a bit longer or add more herbs and steep again.
Strain the mixture, through a wire mesh strainer or colander with cheesecloth or a coffee filter fitted inside. Measure 2 cups of this liquid into a saucepan. Add your acid of choice (if not using vinegar as a steeping liquid) and the sugar and bring to a boil. When the boil cannot be stirred down, remove the pan from heat and add pectin. Return this mixture to a hard boil that can’t be stirred down and continue for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam, pour the jelly into hot and sterilized jars. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. (Adjust for altitude, if necessary.)
There are endless combinations of herbs and liquids you can use to make this recipe suit you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with spices, as well. The combination in this recipe is a great pick-me-up flavor for a dreary winter’s day!