FIRST DANDELION JELLY FROM FRESH FLOWERS

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While some people and places have never been introduced to the concept of foraging for their food delights and use of “wild foods”, I have always appreciated the first spring flush of dandelions.

Back on my old homestead, I would harvest every one of the flowers in my yard. My yard had plenty of other flowers for pollinators and I loved the honey sweet flavor of the dandelions.

I’d be sure to allow a certain number to go to seed and collect the little puffballs so I could sprinkle them around in a more controlled manner as I had yard areas where I could maximize their growth and their use as the large taproot of dandelions helps break up compacted soil.

The root also makes a good coffee substitute in terms of the taste, the flower petals I’ve used from everything from jelly to syrup to wine and even an additive to soap, and the bitter greens can be useful as well though I usually ate the young tender leaves and composted the rest.

MINNEAPOLIS HARVEST AND FIRST FORAGING

The place I’m living now is relatively clean in terms of yard contaminants and I know how the yard is tended so I feel comfortable collecting from this yard.

Given that I’m still in the process of learning the area, I’m not sure where is safe to harvest on a grand scale. In the south, I had access to a 350-acre cow pasture with good clean forage land.

City harvesting has more considerations and things to think about because there is more risk of bad product use like if people are spraying their yard with stuff considered harmful or general waste contamination from city activity.

DANDELION JELLY

I wasn’t really planning to do much gardening or my usual stuff this year, but I’m staying with some people who are interested in having a garden in their yard and using stuff produced off their land.

The problem with Minnesota is you have to wait a long time before it is actually decently warm. I didn’t start seeing good dandelion populations in good quantity until the end of April and had a good opportunity to start petal collecting.

I left them alone until the other flowers appeared in the yard as dandelions are good early nectar sources. The yard now holds plenty of options for bees or any other critter visiting and looking for a meal.

HARVESTING DANDELIONS THOUGHTFULLY

The funny thing about dandelions is the odd opinions I’ll read about foraging in general or harvesting on a yard or homestead. There is almost always a person concerned about dandelion harvest while some of the others complain about what an annoying invasive weed it is.

Then there is the random person talking about bees. I do tend to leave the first flushes of flowers as a just in case sort of thing, but collecting the flowers usually prompts the plant to send up more flowers. The last few years have been very odd for dandelions as well as I notice they are trending everywhere. I’ve been fond of them since I first started playing with a batch to try to make a coffee substitute out of some coffee root and then I made one dandelion wine.

The wine was tested by some people who often wanted to try out my weird wines and mead experiments. Oddly, the dandelion wine was their favorite and they were very mad I only had one. Back then it was still a fringe plant and many considered it a weed. It is weird these days I notice in some groups dealing with such issues they report dandelions being harvested so much in their area they can barely find them.

Luckily, I’m in an area where the humble dandelion is mostly ignored and litters pretty much every yard and field where not mowed.

I’m glad that dandelions are getting more attention though as the plant is useful from the flowers to the greens to the taproot. Never made sense to me to kill off something that is a free useful resource that the land gifts you with.

JELLY MAKING EXPERIENCE

I don’t have a great camera yet or a proper area to do the super impressive blog photos. I still figured I’d share about my most recent cook.

After gathering my flowers I made the mistake of not removing the petals with the flowers fresh and let them in the fridge for a bit to where they folded in on themselves.

Even though my harvest was tiny it took forever to remove the petals from the greens. Then I went ahead and added my boiling water to start the dandelion tea. As you can see I didn’t have a lot of petals this harvest though a lot of the bitter greens. I made a small batch of jelly and didn’t bother with the full canning procedure as this jelly will get used quickly since so many people around me are eating it.

I didn’t have my own kitchen yet to use though this gives a good idea of general supplies and you can see the leftover petals after straining. I opted to add some red pepper flakes to this batch to kick the heat up a little.

I poured up my jelly into a glass jar I saved and recycle for various uses. The picture gives a good idea of how the jelly even when warm still has a gel going on.

The end result isn’t the prettiest vision though since this isn’t for gifting and the jelly is going to be used quickly, it didn’t make sense to put a whole lot of effort in terms of canning for this cook.

DANDELION FLOWER JELLY

Canning Dandelion Flower Jelly

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups dandelion petals
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 box powdered pectin

*Optional- I added chili flakes to mine until they were desired amount.

Instructions

1. Remove petals from the base, taking care to not include any of the greener from the flower, and place into a large glass bowl.

2. Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the flower petals and allow the dandelion flower tea to seep. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Once the tea has cooled, place into the refrigerator for 24 hours.

4. Strain the flowers, squeeze the pedals to release as much of the dandelion tea as possible.

5. Place into a large non-reactive pot 3 1/2 to 4 cups of dandelion tea, lemon juice, and pectin.

6. Bring to boil for 2 minutes.

7. Add sugar and return to a boil while consistently stirring to prevent scorching. Return to boil for an additional 2 minutes.

8. Remove from the heat and add to 1/2 pint jars.

9. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner. Verify the processing time based on your altitude.

FIRST DANDELION JELLY FROM FRESH FLOWERS

Recipe by frugalCourse: Uncategorized
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Calories

300

kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dandelion petals

  • 4 cups water

  • 4 cups sugar

  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice

  • 1 box powdered pectin

Directions

  • Remove petals from the base, taking care to not include any of the greener from the flower, and place into a large glass bowl.
  • Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the flower petals and allow the dandelion flower tea to seep. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Once the tea has cooled, place into the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Strain the flowers, squeeze the pedals to release as much of the dandelion tea as possible.
  • Place into a large non-reactive pot 3 1/2 to 4 cups of dandelion tea, lemon juice, and pectin
  • Bring to boil for 2 minutes.
  • Add sugar and return to a boil while consistently stirring to prevent scorching. Return to boil for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add to 1/2 pint jars.
  • Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner. Verify the processing time based on your altitude.

Notes

  • Makes little over 5 half pint jars.

XOXO, Mel