Thursday, December 9, 2010

Herby Jelly

Good morning Jammers, hope you were snuggled, warm in your beds last eve…it was downright COLD!  Even, here in Florida within 2 miles of the beach we were below freezing.  We made sure to go down to our community garden plot and stake & drape clear plastic over our babies.  We are simply blown away by how much they have grown in the last week and a half thanks to “zoo poo” which can be picked up for free at the zoo for community gardens, like ours, by the truck load.  There is a huge pile of it and we were lucky enough to be there the day it was being offloaded.  We talked with the guy that picked it up ad it turns out he volunteers at the zoo and also has a plot with us.  He explained that the poo is strictly vegetarian coming from the elephants and the giraffes.  It is filtered/sifted once and there are other big sifters available for us to use there, at the garden, if we want to.  We simply laid a fine layer across the garden and WOW…our squash and cabbages really loved it.  We will head down there later today and uncover them, since we are not supposed to hard freeze again till Monday.

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I wanted to get the last recipe posted from our crone’s canning day.  I had decided that we could do sort of a create-your-own type recipe, so I pulled the little pamphlet from a box of pectin and saw a recipe for a herb jelly, using herbs of your own choice.  My gardening partner and I discussed what herbs we had seen at the group herb plot at the garden and came up with doing a mint-basil jelly that could be used with meats or maybe shortbreads.  She stopped at the garden on her way to my house that morning and fresh harvested the herbs by hand.  I did my research on the properties of the herbs we were using and it turns out the basil is for wealth (among other things) and mint is for money.  Guess what was on my mind while we were making this one.  Can you say dollar signs $$$.  If you needed some extra funds to cover an expense or something like Christmas I would suggest something like this with your dinner meal to help facilitate your efforts to bring that cash in.  It would be good to burn some pine incense and a green candle near your hearth while you are making this one.  Here's the recipe:

Herby Jelly

2 cups finely chopped organic mint and basil (50/50)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
5 1/4 cups sugar
1 1.75 oz package Original Fruit Pectin (powdered)
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids.  Combine 2 cups finely chopped herbs with 1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice, 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar in a medium non-reactive saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, remove from heat and let steep 20 minutes.

Strain with a fine meshed strainer and add 3 1/2 cups prepared juice to an 8qt non-reactive stockpot.  Stir in the pectin and the butter.  Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, over high heat, that can not be stirred down.  Add premeasured sugar and return to a full boil.  Boil hard, 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim any foam, if necessary.
Ladle into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings, turning the rings until just finger-tight. Place the jars in the preheated canner and bring canner to a full rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjusting according to your altitude, if necessary) then remove canner from heat. Let canner sit for 5 minutes, then, carefully remove hot jars from water with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals before storing and use within 12 months.

Makes about 5 half pint jars.

So far, I am not a huge fan of this batch.  The herbs are not as strong flavored as I would prefer them to be and I can taste the vinegar.  We sampled all the batches that day with crackers and I was not impressed but I have yet to still try it on meat so I guess you could, in all fairness, say the jury is still out on this one.  I have noticed a mint jelly recipe on the same page and it is just mint and water, no vinegar.  Maybe next time I will try an herb blend with that recipe.  Have any of you done a strictly herb jelly before?  Give a gal some feedback here…which herbs did you use and how did it come out?

So remember, I mentioned learning something MAJOR from my non-canning crones?  My canning fairy had left me another canning set so I would have backups on the basic equipment and it was a good thing, because my jar lifter had started to come apart with the little black rollers that grip the jar breaking apart when I had them in the hot canner.  I was still using it but I decided to go ahead and pull the new backup one out towards the end of our canning day.  I had done ONE STINKING BATCH when there, right in the bottom of my boiling canning water bath are the little rolling bars which have broken off AGAIN.  I scream ARRRGGGHHHH and everyone drops what they are doing and wants to know what was wrong.  I explained how this was a brand new jar lifter and it had come apart before I was finished using it on it’s first batch! 
The girls started gabbing and gawking and looking at me all weird and one of them spoke up and said “Hey, I think I remember watching my family member can and…uhhhh…doesn’t it go the OTHER WAY?”  Huh???  No way, they all were in agreement that I was using it upside down and here I was 20 or so batches into my new found passion and I was supposed to be teaching them…well, let just say it was five minutes before we all could stop laughing.  I tried it the “correct” way and wow, what a difference.  It is so much more stable and grips way better than before.  Huge DUH, on my part.  I love my friends for setting me on the straight road…I guess it does take a village to do a LOT of things!

Till next time, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Never tried herb jelly but I am intrigued. LOL about the jar lifter, my black things fall off all the time too, very frustrating. When I first got mine I was using the black ends to pick up the jars too, then it dawned on me, hey these bent rubber coated ends would work better...LOL!

Dorothy Morris said...

Thanks for sharing the story about how much can be learned from those we are presuming to teach. It gave me the confidence to put in my own two cent's worth regarding herb jellies! I'm a relative novice, with only one herb jelly under my belt- a sage jelly. My recipe had an apple/lemon juice base, not vinegar like yours, but I too was disappointed with the flavor straight out of the pot. It tasted too sweet and not sage-y enough. Fast forward a few weeks to when I opened one of the jars and tried the jelly with some turkey... It was so tastey! I think the magic ingredients were time and patience! The flavors seemed to mature in the jar, and the balance that wasn't there when it was freshly made is definitely there now. So give it a little time, and report back to us what you think!