It’s flower jelly time! I posted about this a few weeks ago, but want to remind you again because if you don’t get the violets right now, they will be gone! Don’t let that happen! I went violet- and dandelion-picking yesterday. Let me just say upfront that this is a project. I picked both violets and dandelions at the same time, and it took a few hours just for the picking, not to mention the time spent separating the dandelion petals from the green stuff. It’s easy to separate the violet petals, but the violets take longer to add up when you’re picking, so they’re both about equal in time expenditure.
Wildflower jellies are an old-fashioned idea, and the reason for that is we don’t think we have time in our rush-rush world to pick flowers for a few hours and separate the petals. It’s a slow task, somewhat akin to stringing beans or cracking nuts.
I carried jars and scissors and an old rocking chair pad that I used to take to put on the bleachers at Weston’s football games and moved about the field, picking dandelions and violets as I went.
It had been raining and the flowers and ground were wet. I figured the flowers were pre-washed. The temperature was perfect. I was picking near the road and not a single vehicle drove by for hours while I was picking. If you get in the spirit of it, it’s a sort of meditative event. Every time I felt impatient with how slowly the jars were filling, I reminded myself to slow down and enjoy it. And I did.
I came away with a pint of violet petals and a quart of dandelion petals. (You can do this with all sorts of wildflowers and garden flowers. You can find an extensive list of edible flowers at About.com here.)
There are some excellent recipes on Farm Bell Recipes for making dandelion, violet, and other flower and herb jellies.
I needed something that would work for me on a per cup basis, not just for these violets and dandelions, but for other flower and herb jellies where I might be working with varying amounts, so after studying the above three recipes, I came up with a per cup recipe that helped me sort that out in my mind. You can make flower and herb jellies using any amount of flowers and herbs, so if you don’t want to pick any certain amount, this per cup recipe may help you, too.
My infusions at work:
By the way, you don’t have to can the infusion right away. I’m going out of town soon, so after straining the infusions today, I’ll be stashing them in freezer baggies in the freezer until I get back and have time to make the jellies. But the time for picking–especially the violets–is now, so I got them while the gettin’ is good.
Basic Flower & Herb Recipe for Jelly:
For the infusion, per cup flower petals or herb leaves, add–
1 cup boiling water
For the jelly, per cup strained infusion, add–
1/8 cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar
*1 package powdered pectin will set up to 2 cups strained infusion. For 4 cups infusion, use 2 packages, and so on. For 3 cups infusion, go ahead and use 2 packages (and so on–for 5 cups, use 3 packages.) There is no natural pectin in flower petals and herbs, so a lot of pectin is required.
Boil water and steep petals/herb leaves overnight, one cup boiling water per one cup petals/leaves. The next day, strain the infusion through cheesecloth to get a clear liquid. When adding up cups of strained infusion, if you’re short, add water to round up to the next cup then make jelly using the recipe above per cup strained infusion. Combine strained infusion, powdered pectin, and lemon juice in a pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars. BWB 10 minutes.
These jellies come out in beautiful natural colors, but you can add a drop or two of food coloring for a desired effect, if you wish. You can also use this same infusion method as a base for flower or herb syrups, teas, and more.
Tip: To separate out the dandelion petals, here is how I did it. As I mentioned above, the violet petals are no problem. Dandelion petals require a little extra effort. First, clip the bottom of the flower just above the stem. (The dandelion flower is closed up because this was morning, it had been raining, and I had also been holding them tightly closed the easier to snip them.)
Holding the petals from the top of the flower, pull off the green bits.
Now you have petals only!
See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes for the handy print page and save it to your recipe box.
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