I am most famous for my experimental cooking with my garden harvestings. I haven't posted any new experiments lately! Apparently my head has been far too full of other things. (Stressful things that don't lead to productivity or happiness.)
My most insanely successful herb this year was clearly the ordinary, garden variety basil. It doubled, tripled, quadrupled and then grew some more. It took over the herb patch and made me decide to move my basil plants to the front garden next spring. The darn thing is basically a small tree. But I also had great successes with golden sage, rosemary, dill and parsley, none of which are hard to please and grow very well in a sheltered sunny spot. I also gave two new herbs a go - lemon verbena and lemongrass. Both have been vital in the creation of my Lemon Chamomile Get Better Soon tea mix.
Anyway, lemon grass and lemon verbena are pretty delicious, and surprisingly, they are delightful to blend with sweet berries like raspberries and strawberries. And so, the miracle of Berry-Lemon Jam was born!
You will need the usual essentials for jam-making: pots, jelly jars, lids and rings, a non-reactive spatula (silicone is best), something long for removing air bubbles, jar lifter, lid magnet, etc. You also need a jelly bag!!
This is a recipe for any type of berry - blackberries, red raspberries, or strawberries - but I used red raspberries because they grow in plenty at the back of my parents' property. Adding the lemony herbs gave it a subtle citrusy flavor that comes almost as an afterthought. Simply delightful!
3 medium sized Granny Smith apples
3 pounds (about 8 cups rinsed) red raspberries
2 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons or strained fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. packed fresh lemon verbena, torn into pieces
4-6 lemongrass stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 package of Sure Jell
Prepare for water bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keept them hot in the canning pot. Put a small plate in the freezer and put the flat jar lids in a small saucepan and put over low heat. Allow this to come to a very slow boil.
Quarter and core the apples, reserving the core and seeds. Put these apple trimmings (The core and seeds and peels!) and all of the herbs that you can pack into the jelly bag (or 4 layers of cheesecloth) and tie the bag closed. Reserve the actual piece of apple though!
Put the raspberries and sugar in a wide, 6-8 quart preserving pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, then continue to cook until the juices are just deep enough to cover the berries, about 8 minutes. Pour into a colanger set over a large bowl and stir the berries gently to strain off the juices. Return the juice to the pan along, along with the apple pieces and the bag with all the apple trimmings and herbs. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is reduced and thick and registers about 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer, 15-20 minutes.
Return the berries and any accumulated juice, along with the lemon juice and the package of Sure Jell, to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently. Test for jelling by putting a small dab on the plate in the freezer and returning it to the freezer for one minutes. If it has jelled it will wrinkle. If not, simmer 5 more minutes and then test again. Remove the jelly bag and the apples.
Using the jar lifter, pull the hot jars out of the canning pot and ladle the jam into them. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lids and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring to finger-tight. Return the jars to the canning pot and process.
After processing, move the jars to a towel in a location where they will not be disturbed for about 12 hours. After 1 hour, check to see that the lids have sealed properly by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the sealing did not occur, refrigerate the jar immediately and eat it with breakfast tomorrow!