The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday—but never jam today. ~ The White Queen (Lewis Carroll)
Fair point, White Queen. Fair point. But surely that means jelly is for today! Jelly making is an absolute pleasure. From fruit to fir trees, you can make a jelly out of almost anything. This year I'm completely smitten with botanical jellies. Using this recipe, I've made up batches of Wild Rose, Violet, Pineapple Weed, Honey & Pine Tip, Osoberry, Mountain Heather Blossom, Scented Geranium and most recently, Queen Anne's Lace. Honestly, if you can make a syrup or tea out of it—you can make incredibly unique jellies. You can also add petals to your jelly to make them even gorgeous-er.
2 cups moderately packed flowers or herbs
2 cups almost-boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 ounces of liquid pectic
First, collect your botanical. Do your research and make sure what you're picking is edible. Eat the Weeds
is an excellent resource for edible wildflowers. Herbs also make wonderful jellies as well. Just make sure you're not poisoning yourself and your loved ones...with jelly. Tragic way to go.
Again, depending on what you're picking, it's best to pick most blossoms in the morning once the dew has dried, the flower is completely opened and it's at it's highest water content. However, I've picked flowers at 10 PM and the jelly was still quite tasty.
Research your flower or herb to find out where you should snip the blossom. For example, with dandelion you want to remove the bitter green base while other blossoms (especially tiny ones) you'll want to toss in the whole flower head. Too many green bits can make your flower tea or syrup taste of cooked vegetables and/or bitter. Gross.
Gather 2 cups of blossoms. Give them a good shake to evict any critters living in them and put them into a large-ish jar. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil (let it sit for five minutes so you don't "cook" your flowers) and pour it over the flowers.
For maximum flavour, it's best to let your flowers steep overnight in a sealed jar. However, if you're dealing with a particularly strong flower like lavender, a few hours might fine. Basically, if you like the way it tastes then it's done.
Prepare your jelly jars. I like the 125 ml jars because they're crazy cute and perfect for gift-giving. I wash the jars, rings and seals in hot water and rinse them. Then I fill the jars with boiling water and pour boiling water over the rings and lids. After that I dump the water, dry everything and put it all in a pan in a 225ºF oven to keep warm.
Prepare your hot water bath. If you have proper water-bath canning equipment, congratulations! You're a better person than me. I have my own "system". Basically, I put a tea towel in the bottom of my tall narrow-ish crab pot (to keep the jars from knocking around) and fill it with enough water to cover my jam jars by several inches. Whatever you're using-- start boiling it now.
Pour 2 cups of your flower infusion into a deep pot, add the sugar and the lemon and bring to a boil.
When you can no longer stir down the boiling, add the pectin (stirring constantly) and bring it to a boil again. Let it boil hard for 2 minutes and then ladle into hot sterile jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space. If you're adding petals sprinkle a few on top and cover with a thin layer of jelly.
Make sure you've wiped the rim of the jelly jars with a hot cloth. Any jelly on the rim will compromise your seal. Put the warm seals and rings on - tightening just until you feel resistance.
Gently lower your jelly jars into the boiling water-bath, making sure none of the jars are touching in the pot and process your jelly for 10 minutes.
Remove your jelly jars and place them on a wooden block or a tea towel to cool. Don't touch them for at least a few hours. I leave mine overnight as I'm almost always making jelly at night. Check to make sure your jars have sealed and store them in a cool dark place. Or eat them!
And now you can make like a fairy and eat flowers on toast!