Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dandelion Jelly

After reading Ava Chin's Urban Forager column in the New York Times the other day I was inspired to make Dandelion Jelly.

This has been in the back of my mind for a while but I always seem to have some other use for the hard-won yellow petals: bread or muffins or wine. And it's not like one just has flowers to burn (despite what my neighbors think about my "lawn"). Harvesting the petals is definitely not in the same league as plucking a few leaves for a salad or buds for an omelet. It's a commitment. Luckily I went a little overboard during my wine-making foray, collecting a cool eight cups of petals rather than the six cups the recipe called for—giving me exactly the two cups needed for Ms. Chin's recipe.

Always the pranksters, the dandelions weren't done with me yet. My unruly petals refused to submit placidly to the domestic arts. On the first go-round the jelly didn't want to set, resulting in a syrup instead. The next day I poured all the syrup back into the pot and added 4 more teaspoons of pectin. This did the trick, though I lost a significant quantity cooking down the syrup and even then I wasn't convinced it would set. But after returning from Olympia that night (which is like a trip in the Wayback Machine to the Seattle of 20 years ago, pre-tech boom, pre-Starbucks, pre-WTO but definitely not pre-grungewear or pre-dive bar...I liked it) I discovered that my measly 3/4 of a pint had set most gracefully.

The flavor is really quite wonderful. It's kind of like a gelified honey. (Did I make up that word? Apparently not.) After enjoying—no, gobbling down—my first taste of gelified honey aka dandelion jelly on an organic wheat English muffin, I felt like one of those drunken bumblebees you see in the dandelion fields. There was nothing to do but flop down and take a mid-morning nap.

Here's the recipe, with the caveat that your mileage may vary. Don't forget: pectin is your friend when it comes to Dandelion Jelly.

2 cups dandelion petals
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2-4 tsp pectin*

* Maybe more, maybe less. This jelly operates on principles beyond our ken.

1. Bring 2 cups water to boil and add dandelions. Boil 10 minutes over medium heat.
2. Strain dandelions and return liquid to pot.
3. Add sugar, lemon, and pectin, then bring to boil again before reducing heat to a simmer. Stir with wooden spoon until syrupy. This may take little time or lots of time, depending.
4. Pour into sterilized jars, seal, and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about a pint.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Thanks for posting this - I had missed it in the NY Times. I admire your tenacity - this is a real labor of love.

Camille said...

I am definitely going to make this! I bet it kind of tastes like honey. Maybe I'll add some orange rind and star anise.
I was up in Sqamish the other day- not a lot of dandies left but I found wild ginger by the bucket. I'm thinking of making ginger marmalade.

Sherry said...

This looks wonderful, and I just might be able to come up with enough blossoms soon to try it. Thanks!

drfugawe said...

Hey Lang,
Hoping your spring goes well! Ah, you have discovered the shocking secret of preserves - that jellies are not quite the simple and lowly members of the clan, but rather the most challenging - especially those w/o pectin!

Carry on, lad.

Julia said...

Yes, jellies are challenging, but totally do-able! I think it's great you made this, and loved the NYT article as well.

I just made dandelion honey--so called because it set so soft. I used pectin (you have to have pectin) just not commercial pectin. I used the natural pectin found in apples. But however you make it, dandelion jelly is delicious.

Ava Chin said...

Fabulous! So glad you were inspired by the story to make it yourself. It's a real labor of love, as you know, but well worth it. I read your dandelion wine post with great interest too, as I have some fermenting in a friend's basement right now (any tips for a newbie?) Looking forward to reading more of your wonderful posts.

Langdon Cook said...

Ciao Chow Linda - A labor of love that's now officially an annual calendar event. ;)

Cameal - Orange rind would be perfect. Your ginger marmalade has me thinkin'...

Sherry - Here in Seattle we're past the peak of dandy flowering, but in NH you might be right in the heart of it now. Good luck.

Doc - Good point. You're correct about jellies. As I mostly make jams I've got a fair bit to learn about the persnickety relative.

Julia - What's your process for extracting the apple pectin?

Ava - Welcome to FOTL. You'll find your sort of peeps hanging around here. And thanks for the inspiration. I'm enjoying your NYTimes pieces immensely.

Julia said...

Extracting apple pectin? It's basically simmering tart chopped apples (skin, seeds and all) then straining and saving the juice, which will be high in pectin. There are more details, of course, and there are many recipes on line and in preserving books for making apple pectin stock.
Here's a link to a jelly I made using apple pectin: http://whatjuliaate.blogspot.com/2009/11/earl-grey-tea-jelly.html
I'm not a great step-by-step recipe giver, but it gives you the general idea. Hope this isn't too dull; I'm sort of a jelly geek!

Laurie said...

The one and only time I've ever had dandelion jelly was at my aunt and uncle's ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, when I was 7 years old. It was like golden sunshine on toast. Amazing and unforgettable. I've often wondered whether it existed outside of my aunt's kitchen. Thanks for sharing it.

matt said...

you and your yard munching antics... :)

Lovely stuff mate. I never thought of making a jelly like this.

evalyn said...

Thanks for the receipe. I'll give it a try, mabe add apple peel to the cooking then strain it out. Also wonder if more lemon juice would help.

I made elderberry "jelly" this year and tho it's wonderful stuff, it's still syrup. Just add a teaspoon to a cup of tea and it's a heavenly treat.

green--bean said...

YESYESYES! I just read her article too, and also tried my hand at dandelion jam. A great day we had foraging for this "weeds" and making a delectable treat.

vicki said...

I've picked 1 1/2 cups of flowers and headed out to pick more! (I have a neighbor who's got tons and rarely mows). I made violet jelly yesterday from all the violets in my lawn... it's wonderful! And a lovely color as well. It may be something you want to try...similar recipe - 2 cups flowers (with violets you don't need to remove the green!) 2 cups of hot water to infuse... up to 24 hours, 2 cups of sugar, 1pkgof liquid pectin. I did 4 cups of flowers (lots of violets in my lawn!) so ended up with 11 1/2 pints of jelly. Realy good.

Laura said...

I was so intrigued by the idea if 'gelified honey' I foraged some gold(en flowers) and made my first jelly!
It was very tasty! I flubbed the pectin a bit and got some lumps but other than that all went as planned.
I skipped the canning part ( thought I did put the jelly in canning jars) and put in the fridge. We will eat it within a day or two, so spoiling shouldn't be an issue.
I'm taking half of the batch with me to the Sustainable Capitol Hill meeting tonight. Some one from the Transition Town movement will be tking about Transition Seattle. As I have mixed feelings about the whole Transition Town thang , I'm interested to see what they have to say. And to share my Dent de Lion Jelly too! :)

Anonymous said...

I need to try this! Thanks for inspiring me!

Amanda Bowyer said...

My name is Amanda and I am a Food Safety Advisor/ Master Canner/ Volunteer with the Unniversity of Idaho. I would advise against making this kind of jelly. Dandelions are a weed, I know alot of people eat them, but canning them is differnt. There isn't any tested recipe for dandelion jelly. Here is a link to a website of tested recipes from the University of Georgia. You should only preserve foods from tested recipes.

I'm not trying to upset anyone here so I hope you understand where I'm coming from. I wouldn't want to hear about someone getting sick from Clostridium botulinum from unsafe canning metheds.

Amanda Bowyer said...

Hello again, though a friend at the U of I ext. We found a publication where it say's it's safe to can dandelion jelly! I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feeling's with my other post... Hear is the website that has the jelly plus other wild berries you can make jams and jellies with..


Anonymous said...


I just made this. Excuse my language, but holy shit! Where has this recipe been all my life??? It's perfect! It tastes like the most amazing honey ever, just as I was hoping it would.

Thank you SO much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

weirdo dandelions havie healing properties and been made into lots of wonderful eats and canned for many moons before you go boast your food safety w/e try old skool, grammas know best!! been making dandelion jelly and canning it for years its good for the body mind and soul,,food safety phsfft...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe! I really enjoyed collecting the flowers and had a nice walk through the neighborhood. Although a bit labor intensive, plucking all the tiny yellow petals, it was totally worth it. It DOES taste like gelified honey! I enjoy it on my homemade mini raisin-fennel seed ciabattas....toasted, of course. Delish!