Until a few days ago, I’d heard of dandelion salads and wines, but never dandelion jelly. The idea intrigued me so much, I set about making it today.
As we don’t spray for dandelions (or anything else, for that matter,) I had, shall we say, an “ample” supply of blossoms. Since many trees and flowering plants are blooming currently, I figured the bees wouldn’t mind me stealing a bit of their supply this afternoon. When the previous owners installed the new drain field in the yard, they didn’t cover the backfill with topsoil. This has resulted in terrible growing conditions for grass, but outstanding dandelion coverage.
I’m pretty sure our neighbors to the East become a bit apoplectic when they gaze into our yard – they spray for dandelions, for clover, for goodness knows what else. I can just hear Judy now, as she witnessed me collecting a vat of dandelion blooms this afternoon – “Honey, you will not believe what Erin was out there doing today. I swear, she was picking the dandelions.”
As I’ve said before, I love dandelions. They’re pretty, they supply food for our insect friends and they’re edible. What more could a girl want?
As I collected my bounty, I was reminded a little of berry-picking adventures when I was a child; casting about for the perfect quarry, not having to move too far to find it.
Given the bountiful supply of bright yellow flowers, I could be somewhat particular about my choices. I picked the fullest, freshest blooms, shaking off whatever insects I could see.
A side note for those of you squeamish about Insects in the House: This may not quite be the recipe for you. Despite being rather careful about getting the bugs off… there are still a metric honkload of new bugs in the house, everything from ants to gnats to small, unidentifiable beetles.
I was especially careful not to get them into the measuring cup of trimmed petals – an ant preserved in amber is lovely. An ant preserved in jelly? Maybe not so much.
It took me perhaps twenty minutes to gather up a full colander of flowers. I couldn’t remember exactly how much the recipe called for, other than “a lot.” I gathered way more than I needed.
The remainder went to the chickens. They were far more interested in what bugs there might have been, than in the flowers themselves.
Because I habitually rinse off food like the proverbial raccoon, I stuck the flowers under the running tap without thinking. Turns out that was a really dumb idea. It made everything soggy and damp and less fluffy. Trust me, “fluffy” is a desirable trait for the following step.
Next up – trimming the petals away from the bud. Using my trusty Wuesthof kitchen shears (the one kitchen tool I could barely do without,) I cut the petals away, shooing bugs off as I went. It’s a bit of a finicky process, and took maybe a half hour to get the requisite two cups of petals.
Since the petals will be steeped and strained, and since the bracts are edible, I opted to leave the ones that snuck in.
I ran out of steam before I could finish and shelved it for another day.
At this point, I should warn you – I polished off a bottle of wine as I was writing this next bit. Please forgive any … strangeness or worse-than-usual incoherence.
Putting the jelly together is just insanely easy, and here’s how it goes:
- Put your 2 cups of dandelion petals into 2 cups boiling water
- Boil for ten minutes or a little longer
- Add 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and stir well
- Add your 1.25 tsp of pectin (and then follow the directions for said pectin – mine was no-cook, so I was done)
- Stir, stir, stir until everything is dissolved
- Pour or ladle into jars of your choosing
- Put on your lids
- Allow to set up
- Freeze (or can – I am lazy today, so I froze two pints and put the third into the fridge)
Or at least, “voila” in theory. It’s been an hour, and mine hasn’t yet set up. I’m thinking the no-cook pectin is to blame. Or, perhaps it’s the wonderful Morado wine I’ve been drinking like grape juice.
But here’s the thing, yo – even though it’s still liquid, the stuff tastes amazing. I mean, seriously delicious. It’s like a lemony honey. I may try to go back and put more pectin into it (which may or may not result in Complete Disaster.)
Apart from my pectin-fail, I do recommend trying this. Because it’s low-cost, delicious, and pretty stinking neat. ‘Nuff said, right?
PS – Over two hours later, no setting. It’s still liquid. Tomorrow, I’ll try the Extra Pectin Thing.
PPS – It never set up, and I never added more pectin. I’m content to have it be a yummy syrup. Next time, I’ll try different pectin. Or … something.