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Blooming jellies

Using edible flowers to make flavorful jellies that complement sweet and savory dishes

July 27, 2018
By JACQUELINE WILT - GRIT magazine , Farm News

By JACQUELINE WILT

GRIT Magazine

Flower jelly is easy to make, and makes a flavorful addition to the pantry. Almost any edible flower can be made into jelly. Because flowers taste differently, a combination of flowers can be used to produce unique flavors to add to a variety of culinary creations.

Article Photos

Lilac Vanilla Bean Jelly beautifully complements a fluffy homemade biscuit.

I used to think that making jelly was a difficult craft to master, one that took years of practice and experience to perfect. This unwarranted belief has led to years of a pantry devoid of beautiful jewel-colored jars of sweet jelly. Even after learning how easy jelly is to make, the idea of using flowers seemed daunting. However, I've since discovered that making flower jelly is simple - and the results are incredible.

When choosing flowers to make jelly, it is important to be certain you properly identify the flower. There are a few flowers that closely resemble each other, and misidentification can lead to a jelly that makes you sick. Select flowers that have not had any chemicals applied to them, and that are fresh and bright in color, without any dead spots. Fresh flowers will produce a jelly that is richer in flavor and color, but if you don't have access to fresh flowers, dried flowers will work; the color will just not be as attractive. In addition, you may need to use more dried flowers to get the same flavor that fresh flowers yield.

Some examples of flowers that work well in jellies include honeysuckle (sweet, honey-like flavor), common blue violet (sweet flavor), clover (anise or licorice flavor), dandelion (sweet, honeylike flavor), lavender (sweet, slightly citrus flavor), and hibiscus (tart, cranberrylike flavor). You can also use flowers with herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, garlic, or rosemary for interesting flavor combinations.

To make flower jelly, you will need jelly jars, lids, and rings; a large stockpot with a lid, in which to process the filled jars; cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer; tongs for lifting the hot lids and jars from the boiling water; a funnel; a 2-quart or larger heavy-bottom pan; a candy thermometer; a ladle; and labels.

The jars can be any size, but the most common sizes for jelly are 8 ounces and 4 ounces. The jars will need to be sealed if you won't use the jelly right away. Do not use the old method of sealing the top of the jelly with wax, as this method is susceptible to bacteria and mold growth in the jelly. Instead, always use new sealing lids and clean rings.

You will need about two to three cups of fresh flowers for most recipes. Prepare your flowers by removing any brown spots, green leaves, and stems, as they can produce a bitter flavor in the final product. For all recipes, wash the flowers thoroughly before using them. The flowers are boiled to make a tea, and the liquid from the tea is strained to remove the plant material. If you are using herbs, add them to the boiling water with the flowers. The strained liquid is the base for your jelly.

Experiment with different flowers, adding herbs, or adding flower essences to your favorite fruit jellies for topping toast and biscuits. You can also use flower jelly to complement the flavors of a savory dish, and to go with crackers and cheese on an appetizer tray. The possibilities are endless.

The process for making jelly is basically the same for most recipes. Here are some recipes to get you started. Don't be afraid to get creative and add different flavors to them.

Basic jelly-making method

To prepare lids and bands: Place in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to simmer. Turn off heat and let sit until ready for use. Wash jars with hot, soapy water. Set aside to dry.

To prepare flowers: Remove any stems, leaves, or brown spots. Gently rinse in colander and pat dry.

To prepare jelly: In saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water to boil. Add flowers and any herbs you choose to use. Boil for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and cover.

Let infusion sit for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days in refrigerator. The longer it sits, the better flavor it will yield.

Place fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth over mouth of quart jar. Pour infusion through strainer or cheesecloth to remove plant material.

In large heavy-bottom saucepan or pot over medium-high heat, combine flower infusion and sugar. Stir in lemon juice, vanilla bean scrapings, and food dye, if using. Bring to hard boil (220 F on candy thermometer).

Add pectin and boil for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Ladle liquid jelly into hot, sterilized jars using funnel, leaving about 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims clean with damp cloth. Cap with sterilized canning lids and bands.

Carefully place filled jars in boiling water in stockpot. Boil for 10 minutes.

Using tongs, remove jars from stockpot and place upright on towel. Allow to cool for at least 24 hours. Test lids for proper sealing.

Dandelion mint jelly

Yields four 8-ounce jars.

2 cups water

2 cups fresh dandelion flowers

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

4 cups granulated sugar

1 package (3 ounces) liquid pectin

Follow basic jelly-making method.

Purple clover and basil jelly

Yields four 8-ounce jars.

2 cups water

2 cups fresh purple clover flowers

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

4 cups granulated sugar

1 package (3 ounces) liquid pectin

Follow basic jelly-making method.

Lavender lemon balm jelly

Yields four 8-ounce jars.

2 cups water

2 cups fresh lavender flowers

1/4 cup fresh lemon balm leaves

4 cups granulated sugar

1 package (3 ounces) liquid pectin

Follow basic jelly-making method.

Honeysuckle jelly

Yields four 8-ounce jars.

2 cups water

2 cups fresh honeysuckle flowers

4 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 package (3 ounces) liquid pectin

Follow basic jelly-making method.

Lilac vanilla bean

jelly

Yields four 8-ounce jars.

2 1/2 cups water

2 cups fresh lilac flowers

4 cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod discarded

1 package (3 ounces) liquid pectin

Purple food dye, optional

Follow basic jelly-making method.

 
 

 

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