Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to - Purple Basil Jelly

It has been some years since I made jelly and I decided that I was putting it off because of my small kitchen and for jelly that was not really an issue.  To prove that to myself (and perhaps to you if you also have a small kitchen,) I made Purple Basil Jelly.  Last week before the temps went below 40 and took out the basil crop, I needed to rescue all those herbs.  Since I had to harvest every basil plant that left me with the surplus needed to make this recipe.  I did it in an evening after harvesting the plants so you do not even need to set aside a day or something to accomplish this.

I actually shared this recipe in the newest issue (November/December) of The Essential Herbal Magazine.  Now would be the time to order your subscription to get this and other seasonal end-of-year recipes as well as other articles for the herbal minded person!

The recipe follows all the pictured steps.

First I washed and air dried the harvested stems.  I laid them out on paper towel and turned them a couple of times while I got the other materials together and grated the lemon zest.

I measured the basil leaves into the measuring cup, pressing them down to make sure I had an entire 1 1/2 cups of leaves.  Then I placed the leaves in the empty saucepan and bruised them with my fingers. 

Adding the lemon zest, spices, 1 3/4 cups orange juice orange juice and 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar to the pan after the herbs were well bruised. 


Using a medium temperature, I brought he mixture to a boil slowly.

Once it was fully boiling I took it off the stove and poured the contents into a bowl, placed a cover over it and let it steep for 30 minutes.

After the mixture steeped I poured it into my jelly colander.  using the wooden plunger to press down the herbs and extract all the liquid.  You do not normally press down on the materials when making jelly as this will make the mixture cloudy, but the dark color and use of balsamic vinegar in this recipe means it will already be dark and cloudy so you might as well extract all you can from the herbs.

Once I had at least two cups of liquid I measured that back into a saucepan, added the 4 cups of sugar, one cup at a time and brought it to a full rolling boil.  You can see how just adding the sugar started to thicken the mixture and I had not yet added the pectin.

Once it was fully boiling and foaming I added the liquid pectin.  It comes in pre-measured pouches of 3 ounces so you need to make a recipe that crafts 4 to 6 pints to use this amount of pectin.

Bring the jelly back to a full boil so that it is rolling and foaming, then set your timer for one minute.  Stir constantly or the mixture will scorch.

Once you have allowed it to boil for 1 minutes remove it from heat and  skim off the foam that collects on top.  My mom always liked to eat this while it was still warm.

Once you have skimmed off the foam, pour the hot liquid into hot sterilized jars.  I generally leave the jars in the hot water I boiled them in until just before the jelly boils then I remove them from the how water and drain them on a towel.  By the time the pectin boils for one minute I can flip the jars over and fill them right away.  When I take the jars out of the hot water I slip the metal mason jar lids into the hot water and leave them in the water until I am ready to seal each jar with a lid.

The hot lids are placed on top of each filled jar and the rings are screwed on finger tight.  Then you place the jars in a water bath and boil for 5 minutes.  Normally you water bath for 10 minutes, but herbal jelly will get runny if you go that long so only boil covered for 5 minutes.  Then remove the jars to a heat protected surface and let cool.  The lids should pop fairly quickly.  Any that do not should be kept in the refrigerator and eaten first, the others will keep for 6 to 12 months or longer.

Notice my empty jar in the middle to keep the others from falling over into the empty space while boiling.

Recipe --

Purple Basil Jelly

1 1/2 cups packed purple basil leaves, washed and air dried
zest of 1 lemon
3 whole cloves
2 allspice berries
1 3/4 cups orange juice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups sugar
3 ounces of liquid pectin

Crush the basil leaves with your hands and place in a saucepan.  Add the lemon zest, cloves, allspice, orange juice and vinegar, then bring slowly to a boil.  Transfer to bowl and cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve pressing to extract all the juices. Measure 2 cups extracted liquid into a saucepan.  Add the sugar and bring to full rolling boil.  Stir in the pectin and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, skim and pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

Stop back in a week and I will have some recipes for using the Purple Basil Jelly.


  1. Boy, I took the lazy way out, Marcy! Cut my purple basil, sterilized a quart jar, shoved the basil into the jar and covered it with white wine vinegar! Done! Need to read The Essential Herbal magazine more carefully! Ha! Making Rose Geranium jelly probably tomorrow and then it's on to lemon verbena jelly! More inspiration! xxoo Nancy

  2. Looks very good and basil is my favorite herb. But I don't know where to get purple basil. The nursery's around here doesn't sell it.

  3. Actually I don't have the newest Essential Herbal! That's why I couldn't find it!!! I still have to wait until next year to make this recipe as you can see from my first comment! Keeping me on my toes, Ms. Marcy! xxoo Nancy

  4. Nancy - i did not think I could ever be ahead of you! Thank you for the compliment.

    Whysodown - I find that you have to ask inthe ealy spring of fall for them to carry it. If you ask they usually can find a few plants for you. If not i recomend growing it from seed you start in march or april or even sow outdoors. The best place to get Purple Basil seed is SeedSavers Exchange here is a link to the purple basil seed

  5. I would like to know what you use it for ? Just like a fruit jelly or for cooking as a spice like additive ?

    1. You can use it like a fruit spread or in cooking recipes. I like to use it to make muffins, but it goes well with peanut butter!


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