Lemon Rosemary Jelly

27 Jun

It’s a warm summer’s day, and I’m following artisanal jam and jelly maker Beverly McClare through the trees toward her herb plot at Tangled Garden.

We pause at the toss garden to watch butterflies hovering over the nasturtiums and salad greens. We pass a wildflower labyrinth and thriving sage, tarragon and fennel plants. We meander down Lavender Lane, where the most soporific of edible flowers sway drunkenly in the breeze. “It smells incredible out here,” says McClare. “This is my playpen.”

While it feels like Provence, we’re actually in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia. For over twenty years, McClare has been tending the plants, fruits and flowers here in her glorious garden and then using them to flavour her organic handmade vinegars, oils, liqueurs, chutneys, ice cream, jellies and jams.

Most mornings, McClare heads out scissors and basket in hand to snip fresh herbs for exciting jelly flavours such as grape basil, currant thyme and hot dilly cuke. She makes just six jars at a time. Today in the buttercup-yellow kitchen, we’re knocking out a lemon rosemary batch.

With quick hands, McClare lines up glass jars, rinses pungent herbs and squeezes fresh lemons and limes. She boils up the juices and rinds, then half an hour later, sharp citrus aromas and a whiff of rosemary rise in steamy clouds from white cotton pillowcases as she strains her boiling liquid. “This will be wonderful with chicken,” McClare says. “Or even as a glaze for key lime pie.”

After adding pectin and skimming off bubbles, McClare pours the hot jelly into jars. She pops a perfect piece of homegrown rosemary into each jar, twists shut their lids, then turns them upside down on a tea towel to cool. When the jelly sets, each branch will be caught in the jelly’s warm yellow glow, as if trapped in amber.

You don’t have to go all the way to Grand Pre to experience Tangled Garden—although I highly recommend it–all McClare’s products are available by mail order. If you’d like to make lemon rosemary jelly for yourself, here’s how:

Lemon Rosemary Jelly

To make juice:
6 limes (1 sliced thinly, 5 juiced and strained)
2 lemons (1 sliced thinly, 1 juiced and strained)
4 cups water
4 X 5–6-inch sprigs of rosemary

Combine the sliced fruit, juice, rosemary and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour. The lemon rinds should be translucent. Strain the contents through a damp jelly bag. You will get around 5 cups of juice from this recipe, which is more than enough to make eight 250-mL jars of jelly.

To make jelly:
4 ¾ cups of juice (see recipe above)
7 ½ cups sugar
1 pouch (85 mL) liquid Certo
1 X 4-inch sprig rosemary for each jar

Combine juice and sugar. Bring just to a boil. Stir in Certo, boil for one minute. Remove from heat and skim. Pour into jars, skim bubbles from each with a small spoon. Put a sprig of rosemary in each jar, screw on the cap, being sure not to catch the rosemary in the lid—it should be able to float free when you move the jar. If it is stuck, remove the lid and put a new one in right away.

10 Responses to “Lemon Rosemary Jelly”

  1. Bev Smithson June 29th, 2012 at 11:48 AM #

    Would love to make the Lemon Rosemary Jelly, however not sure how many lemons to use. Recipe calls for 2 lemons (l sliced thinly, 5 juiced and strained)

  2. Ellen Brodie June 29th, 2012 at 12:48 PM #

    I would love to try making this jelly because I have lots of rosemary in my garden. In the ingredients is it supposed to be 6 lemons or 2 and if it’s 2 then I would assume that you slice one lemon and juice the other. Please clarify for me.

    • Valerie Howes June 29th, 2012 at 4:18 PM #

      Hi Bev and Ellen,
      My apologies for the error, which I’ve now fixed in the blog post. The recipe calls for 2 lemons (1 sliced thinly, 1 juice and strained).
      Hope you enjoy the jelly!

  3. Aube June 29th, 2012 at 6:40 PM #

    Oh Val, what a lovely blogpost from one of my favourite spots in Nova Scotia! This makes me homesick for the valley! So happy you got to make it out there, your photos are beautiful, and isn’t Tangled Garden just magical?!

    • Valerie Howes June 30th, 2012 at 9:40 PM #

      Yes, I loved it there!Thanks, Aube.

  4. Alyssa September 16th, 2012 at 12:18 PM #

    What should I put this jelly on! I’m a vegetarian. Lovely post!

    • Valerie Howes September 19th, 2012 at 5:28 PM #

      Hi Alyssa, It would be great with cheese and crackers too. I’m thinking goat cheddar. You can also use it in blueberry tart as a glaze.

  5. Linda May 3rd, 2013 at 12:05 PM #

    Hi I just found you! I have a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree that goes crazy all the time, and I am going to make this jelly. I have made quite a lot of jams but not yet any jellies. My only question is if there not heat processed do they need to be refrigerated? Thanks

    • Valerie Howes May 3rd, 2013 at 12:37 PM #

      Yes, refrigeration is safer if you don’t heat process them. This will be AMAZING with Meyer lemons.

  6. Bren September 14th, 2013 at 1:16 PM #

    Was the jelly put in a hot water bath after they were put in their jars and if so, do you know how long. It sounds though, by your piece, it need not be canned. That would be excellent. Their zesty dilly cucumber jelly is absolutely fantastic. Thanks for the recipe above and the delightful tour.

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