|Rosemary jelly and chevre on crackers|
Curbside, there is little doubt that the annual showstopper is our rosemary. It grows thick around our mailbox at the sidewalk, where its tiny purple blossoms never fail to charm passersby. Our mail carrier once briefly abandoned her appointed rounds to ask if she could snap off a few sturdy springs for shrimp kebabs. An unfamiliar neighbor rang our bell, in the rain, to confess her admiration and beg for a clipping. I handed her the snips we keep by the door for that precise purpose.
I've made several herbal preserves from our garden, notably a pale green basil jelly that's delicious on simple grilled sandwiches - such as slices of hearty bread, fresh mozzarella, thick slabs of summer tomato and a crunchy sprinkle of sea salt.
This weekend, Tim gave the rosemary a serious haircut so I had plenty of fresh cuttings to make jelly - and share a fragrant bagful at the office. There are a few steps involved, mostly hands-off waiting, but it's worth it. Save any excess for yourself, or crack open a jar right away. It's terrific on crackers with a smear of tangy chevre.
4 generous cups fresh-cut rosemary sprigs
1 bottle reisling (or other sweet white wine)
2 cups water
Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and steep at least 1 hour.
Transfer cooled infusion to a jelly bag and let drip into a large measuring cup. It should yield about 4 to 4 1/2 cups rosemary stock. (If short, add just enough water to measure 4 1/2 cups.)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large spring onion, white and pale green only, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. Maldon sea salt
In a small sautee pan, melt butter and add onion, stirring to coat. Add garlic and rosemary. Bubble on low heat until onion and garlic are lightly toasted and the butter has reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in sea salt and lemon zest. Transfer to small bowl to cool.
Lemony Rosemary Garlic Jelly
4 1/2 cups rosemary stock
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 pkg. low-sugar pectin (such as SureJel, pink box)
3 cups sugar
1 dozen 4 oz. canning jars and lids (or comparable assortment)
Prepare jelly jars and lids according to USDA guidelines.
Bring rosemary stock, 1/4 cup sugar and package of pectin to boil in a deep, heavy-bottom pot. Stir well to ensure the pectin-sugar mix is absorbed.
Stir occasionally until mixture reaches a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add sugar all at once, stirring well, then add garlic crunchies. Stir often until mix returns to a rolling boil. Use a timer or count to 60 seconds, then remove from heat.
Skim foam, if necessary, and pour hot jelly into sterilized jars. Press warmed lids onto clean jar rims and and lightly screw on the bands. Carefully place in hot water bath and turn heat to high. Boil for 10 minute, then turn off heat and leave jars in water bath about 5 minutes to settle. Remove to heatproof surface to fully cool.
Jars should ping and lids should slightly depress to indicate complete seal. If you're not certain a jar has sealed, keep it in the fridge and enjoy as private stock. Store others in a cool cupboard until ready to use or share with friends.