My husband is patient enough to hold off on mowing the lawn in the early spring so that the bees can find the first dusting of pollen on the dandelions. My two year old loves picking these “beautiful flowers” and I’ve noticed a growing trend in using these weeds for endless household items. A quick Pinterest search will give you recipes for fried dandelions, pesto, bread, lip balm, wine, and vinegar – just to name a few!
Dandelion jelly really caught my attention. After a friend posted about her successful experience making it, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. This was my very first batch of jelly!
- You’ll need to collect 4 cups of dandelions.
This was a quick process in our yard!
- Cut off as much of the green stem from the dandelion as you can. I was warned the stem can create a bitter taste.
- Cover your dandelions with boiling water. Let it cool and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Strain the petals through a strainer (a coffee filter will also work well) and collect 3 cups of liquid. Discard the petals.
- Put the sweet smelling dandelion liquid into a pot with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and one box of Sure*Jell (any powdered pectin will work).
- Bring this to a boil and then add 4.5 cups of sugar. Bring back to a boil, stirring for 2 minutes.
- There will be a light layer of foam on the top. You’ll want to skim the foam off with a spoon.
- Pour your dandelion jelly into sterilized mason jars, leaving an inch of headspace. (I used pint size Ball mason jars since I don’t have any cute jelly jars …yet!)
- Process your jelly in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. (I have a pressure canner, so I used that instead to be extra safe [it kills botulism spores, making low-acid foods safe for room temperature storage] and processed for the same amount of time)
- The friend who posted this recipe made 6 pint jars of jelly. I only got 3 pints using the same exact recipe. My jelly set very well so I’m not really sure how to explain such a difference in amount, though I’m sure I’ll find information on that in the library book I recently checked out.
I’m currently reading Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round to learn about the basic process of canning jams and jellies. These always intimidated me in the past for fear of killing my family with some sort of crazy bacteria. If you follow the simple steps to canning and use common sense, it isn’t likely to happen.
“If you still to the high-acid foods – like most jams, jellies, and pickles – you are not going to kill anyone.
Botulism is the singular killer when it comes to canned goods, but it cannot grow in high-acid environments. This means that you’ll never hear of a case of botulism having grown in a jar of strawberry jam or dill pickles. If something goes wrong with your high-acid doors, you will be able to tell immediately upon opening the jar. There will be a foul smell, colorful growth, or bubbling where there ought not to be (and these things happen very rarely if you’re following proper canning procedure.).”
-Marisa McClellan, Food in Jars
Make sure your jars seal (that lid pop is music to my ears), write the process date on your lids and be sure to use within a year. Some people will go past a year (some waaaaaaay past a year) but a year is to ensure safety. When you open the jar, look for any signs something isn’t right (as mentioned above).
For instance, we canned green beans a couple years ago and although they sealed, our July 14th batch smelled like feet when we opened them at Thanksgiving. Apparently we didn’t process long enough or there wasn’t enough acid added to the jars. We knew to toss all the beans from that process date and moved on to the next batch for our green bean casserole.
Dandelion jelly tastes a lot like honey. I’d love to try dandelion jelly from a far away location because I think the flavor would vary (just like honey) due to local pollination.
Keep your jars stored in a dark, cool space for up to a year. Once opened, store in the refrigerator between 2 weeks to 1 month (use your best judgment!)