Friday, July 20, 2012

Dandelion Jelly

I'm new to canning and enjoy discovering new things that most people wouldn't even think of canning! Maybe this isn't true where you live, but around here one of the first flowers to arrive in the spring is the dandelion! It's also one of the last flowers to die in the fall....even after my husband tries all summer to kill them. :) Dandelions are basically just a weed and a nuisance to most people, but they really do have some good, edible qualities! I remember drinking lots of dandelion root tea when I was younger. :) Another fun use is making dandelion jelly....just make sure you don't do this if your yard has been sprayed for weeds! You will need:

2 heaping cups of dandelion flowers (just the heads)
2 cups of boiling water
4 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of butter (optional)
3 oz of liquid pectin
5 half-pint jars with lids & rings

How to make Dandelion Jelly

Pick your flowers (my daughter loved helping with this step!!) and place them in a clean bowl (I would recommend picking thru them for stray dog hairs, bugs, dead leaves, etc.).

Pour the boiling water over the flowers, cover, and let sit for at least 2 hours.

After letting the flowers steep for about an 2 hours (or overnight, if you're more patient than I am!), pour them through a strainer to separate the flowers from the "juice."

Pour the "juice" into a large pot (you probably don't need one THIS big, but after having other jams/jellies boil over onto my stove I'm extra cautious!) and whisk in the sugar. Simmer for a few minutes and then add the lemon juice. I added about a teaspoon of butter to help keep down the foam as well.

While the liquid is heating, prepare your jars (cleaned and sterilized), heat your lids (lids ONLY, not the rings) in a pan of hot water, and get out your canning funnel and a clean, damp cloth.

Bring the liquid to a roiling boil (a boil that can't be stirred down). Stir in the pectin, and boil for 5 minutes. When you're done the jelly will be VERY hot and runny...that's ok, it will set once it's cooled in the jars. :)

Remove jelly from heat and begin filling jars, leaving about 1/2" of space in the top of the jar ("headroom" for those of you who know what you're doing! :) ).

After all the jars are filled, begin putting on the lids, using the damp rag to clean the rim of each jar before adding a hot lid. Put on the rings and tighten them firmly.

Flip the jars upside-down for 5-10 minutes, or process the jars right-side up in a water bath (a pot of boiling water) for about 10 minutes. I just flipped my jars, but it might be better to do the water bath since I had a couple that didn't seal from this batch.

Flip the jars right-side up (or remove from water bath) and let them sit until they seal (the lids "pop") and cool. Store any that don't seal in the fridge, and keep the rest in a cool, dark place.

And there you have it! Dandelion has a delicate, honey-like flavor, and is a very pretty golden color. :) This recipe makes about 5 half-pints. Have fun!