Well, I think the last attempt for Mr Winter to stick around has been rebuffed. Spring is here, if you can call it spring. It’s been wet, gloomy, dreary, cold, then steamy, and did I mention gloomy?
So, when a bit of sun peaked out from hiding among the clouds, my oldest daughter (who came home from college between terms) and I went for a walk to collect dandelions for Dandelion Jelly. I’ve never made dandelion jelly before. I’m made lots of other jellies, peach, tart cherry, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry but never dandelions.
The best part of making dandelion jelly? Time with my daughter, in a field, picking dandelions. It’s an odd quirk of human nature, but I find some of the best conversations one can have with their child is while hands are busy. Busy in the kitchen sharing cooking tasks, busy folding laundry, washing the car, gardening, or just walking the dog. Driving never does it for us, but I’ve lots of friends who say that is their best conversation time. But for us, it’s that bonding over ‘doing’.
With the weather as near perfect as we get here, I leashed up the dog and off we walked in search of ‘gold’. Not far away, we found a field full of dandelions and starting picking, and picking, and picking. Miss Mia was also busy keeping the bees at bay. Even though the sun was fully shining, with a touch of coolness to the air it was perfect for ‘doing’ outside.
Once our shopping bag was full of dandelion heads and loads of dandelions with stems for my daughter to make chains with, back home we strolled. Then started the process of plucking the leaves, no green parts, just those yellow leaves and the whitish inner part.
Did I mention the dandelion chains?????
And then there is my Miss Mia, never one to be left out of the beauty contest.
Yes, we all need to take a break from our ‘work’ to enjoy the gifts of life. Warm sun, gentle breeze, freshly brewed Iced Sun Tea, and a tray full of dandelions, as radiant as the sun itself.
Pick enough petals to fill a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup. You don’t to pack it, but pat it down a bit, to ensure you get a full 4 cups.
Gorgeous, eh? A bowl of sunshine!
Bring to a boil enough water for the ‘tea’ require in the recipes below , PLUS one added cup. (If it calls for 3.5 cups, use 4.5 cups) Pour over the petals and let steep overnight. Strain through a cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer and set aside. This is your dandelion ‘tea’. If you find after straining you are short a bit of liquid, just add water to make up the difference.
Bring your canner to a boil, sterilize your jars (see the instructions in a canning book for details) and utensils. Remember, cleanliness is next to Godliness! I always do my lids and rings in a separate pot, so they don’t get so hot that the gasket gets gooey.
In a large stock pot I always use an 8 quart for my jams and jellies, because when it comes to that ‘boil you can’t stir down’ it rises precariously close to the top at times, (Best to have too big a pan than too small!!) is where you are going to make your jelly. Most jellies have the option of liquid pectin or dry, I will post the detailed recipes below for each. After making the jelly, I found mine to be runny immediately upon removing from the canner. I was certain I was going to have to re-can them. But by the next morning they had set perfectly. Jellies, I have discovered, can sometimes take up to 2 weeks to set, so handle them carefully and let them store. If after 2 weeks they are runny, redo and re-can, or use as a sauce for ice creams or milk shakes.
The taste of dandelion jelly is quite unique. I was recently out to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant and had a Grappa that was distilled from chamomile leaves, and this tasted similar. It’s a nice sweetly tart, fresh, light, delicate, beautifully golden, and utterly unique jelly. This will be stored on my jelly shelf, waiting for the occasion to bring as a hostess gifts in the dead of winter, when a breath of sunshine and warmth will be much appreciated! Enjoy!
Dandelion Jelly w/ powdered pectin
3 cups dandelion tea (that means 4 cups boiling water)
4.5 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 box Powdered Pectin
*Whisk dandelion tea, lemon juice, 1 box of powdered pectin and sugar into your large pot. Bring to a boil and continue to boil 1-2 minutes. (A boil that cannot be stirred down) Remove from heat. Fill 1/2 pint jars to 1/4inch headspace, and process for 10 minutes.
Dandelion Jelly w/ liquid pectin (this is the one I used)
3.5 cups dandelion tea (so 4.5cups boiling water)
7 cups sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 pouches Liquid Pectin.
*Combine the ‘tea’, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil. Add the liquid pectin and stirring constantly bring back to a FULL BOIL. Then allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Fill 1/2 pint jars, 1/4 in headspace, and process 10 minutes.
**above 6,000 ft process 15 minutes.