I follow a lot of websites and groups that forage for wild edibles. The best option I have for gathering in my area is my 1/4 acre urban backyard. I try to set aside areas that “invasive” weeds are allowed to grow in. This takes advantage of their many uses and provide resources for pollinators. Dandelion flowers are especially important as honey bee food this time of year. The bees are just emerging from hibernation, there is little blooming, and hobbyists are installing packages. There are many yummy things you can make from dandelion flowers-wine, fritters, simple syrup-just to name a few. After seeing so many pictures of lemon yellow jelly on blogs I decided I need to try that project myself. There was just one problem. I had no pectin. It can’t be found at the grocery store right now . On-line options were out of stock or had crazy prices for such a small amount. But I did have other ingredients and creativity. I decided to make jellies instead. Both ideas have similarities and jellies are certainly easier for kids (and some adults like me who are intimidated by canning) to make.
Dandelion Flower Jellies
Step 1-pick about two cups of dandelion flowers. Do this in the morning when they have just opened. Choose the biggest ones you can find and watch out for bees who will also be having breakfast. Kids can help with this.
Step 2-peel off the green sepals/calyx. There are several different strategies for doing this. Try your best, it is not a big deal if some green parts get in. Having only the yellow flowers is supposed to reduce the bitterness. I basically broke the flower in half and either peeled off the green calyx from each half or pulled the disc flowers out of the center. Discard the green parts, place the yellow parts in a large jar. Children might enjoy helping with this part or not. It depends on their attention span and frustration level. It is time consuming. I am convinced that I would not have survived life as a pioneer woman on the prairie. At least most of them got a break and left the house on Sunday.
Step 3-Pour boiling hot water over the flowers and let steep in the jar for 24 hours. You are making an infusion.
Step 4-Strain out the flowers for two cups of clear liquid. I was expecting something lemon yellow but what I got was quite dark. I was worried but in the end I got a lovely color. Not what I saw in the blogs for making jelly but who knows if they photoshop-I do not.
Step 5-reserve out 1/2 cup of liquid. Add in 4 packets of unflavored gelatin. Whisk until well mixed. This is something a child can help with.
Step 6-Bring the rest of your infusion to a boil on the stove. Turn off the heat and add in 3/4 cup of honey. Add in your gelatin mixture. Add in the juice of 1/2 of one large lemon. Whisk until clear. Add in 5 drops of lemon essential oil if you have some. Stir.
Step 7-Coat some silicone candy molds with a neutral tasting oil. Coconut is a good choice. Place the molds on a cookie sheet/baking tray. Pour your liquid into the molds. Refrigerate for several hours until set.
Step 8-Remove the jellies from the mold. They should release easily if truly set but if they don’t, flip the mold over onto a large plate and run it under hot water for a few seconds. Then try again.
Store in the refrigerator and consume within one week.
My girls gave these jellies a high rating for taste and texture. Somehow the honey, lemon, floral, and bitter flavors really work well together. What a great and very appealing way to get children to consume a dandelion infusion.
I had quite a bit of infusion left over. I added a bit of lemon juice and honey. It really does have an amazing but subtle taste as an iced tea. .Very different than a hot tea of dandelion root. Perfect for a day that should be about egg hunts and spring but instead fills like January in a blizzard.
Dandelion is thought to be a fantastic blood purifier that supports the body to clear toxins and wastes from the blood and various organs. It is very cooling, helping to remove heat, infection, and water retention from the tissues. I find a tea of dandelion flowers to be very calming and nurturing. It can reduce stress, muscular tension, and depression. Any emotions like fear or anger that get stored in the kidneys or liver can be released.
What things do you find nurturing during these long days in isolation.