Dandelion jelly

“Beautiful as a dandelion-blossom golden in the green grass, this life can be.” Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet and playwright

Dandelion jelly is one of those recipes that one should try just because one can. Lemony, honey-like, pure joy.

Try this with pale breads like English muffins or a baguette.

And, you can’t beat the price for the key ingredient. My eldest daughter and I picked the quart of flower heads needed for this recipe without walking more than 50 yards from the house. (Although, when my youngest daughter saw us emerge from an alley with a Pyrex dish full of the blooms, she said we looked “sketchy.”)

Just don’t wait too long, as I did one year. Dandelions may seem omnipresent, but they’re really only in widespread bloom for a few weeks each spring. After that, it’s only a bloom here and there.

Dandelion Jelly

Gather one quart of fresh dandelion flower heads in a place that is free from chemical applications and heavy dog or car traffic. Working quickly (the blooms fade rapidly), rinse them and pull off as much of the bitter-tasting green parts as possible. (This can be messy and will reveal the occasional ant. It’s best done outside if possible.)

Put the blooms in 2 quarts boiling water. Boil for three minutes. Use a fine strainer (pressing the petals to get all the liquid out) and reserve 3 cups of the liquid. (Or, do what I did: Tie up the blooms in a clean, white dishtowel and skip the straining process. Plus, you’ll have a dandy-yellow towel when you’re done. )

In a large kettle, bring 3 cups of the dandelion liquid, 6 Tablespoons fruit pectin and 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice to a boil.

Stirring constantly, add 5 1/2 cups sugar and return to boil. Boil 2-3 minutes.

If you will be using or giving away fairly quickly, skip the hot water bath and simply ladle into about 6 half-pint canning jars and hand seal with canning lids or paraffin after the jelly has cooled. For longer storage, which can be done at room temperature, process the filled jars in a hot-water bath.

Unprocessed jars and processed jars that have been opened should be stored in the refrigerator even though the high sugar content makes it difficult for bad bacteria to take hold.

This light jelly is best enjoyed on toasted white bread.

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