02 November 2010

dandelion jelly

This is a conversation* Lovina Eicher and I had when I read her cookbook, The Amish Cook at Home:

Lovina: My family and I love eating dandelions.

Miri: You jest. Dandelions are a WEED, like lawn daisies.

Lovina: Dandelions should be eaten in early Spring when very young.

Miri: First of all, Lovina, stop ignoring me, and secondly, PEOPLE can eat dandelions?

Lovina: You can make dandelion salads and dandelion jellies.

Miri: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All these years of ignoring dandelions for daisies - I'm so ashamed! Well, I've got quite a bit of time to make up for it because fortunately (please don't hate on me if you're a lawn enthusiast) dandelions sure won't become extinct anytime soon.

A couple of weeks ago, Spring made itself known (hurrah!) with beautiful sunshine and, of course, rain. Conveniently, noone had bothered to mow the lawns so I had quite a stockpile of dandelions to choose from. Before they were mown down, I set to work, cutting dandelion flowers and leaves.

I used one of Lovina's recipes to make a lovely dandelion leaf salad. Now, I'm no salad leaf expert but I do know that the leaves were very tasty and would fit right in with those fancypants mixed salad bags you get from the shops.

The recipe for dandelion jelly in Lovina's book called for fruit pectin because the blossoms don't really have any pectin to set a jelly. Weeelll, I didn't have any pectin on hand so I decided to go at it on the fly (aka I cheated and used sugar that already had pectin added). It was super easy and I had a great time getting people to try and guess what the flavour was - no one could though because they'd never come across the flavour before.

The flavour is very subtle and honeyish - I've never really tasted anything else like it so I can't do an intense comparision (but it's not like grass I swear!). I've used the jelly on toast and as a major player in a cheesecake which was really delicious.

I don't know how to encourage people to make this but I really hope they do because I think it's something really interesting to make, taste, and share.

*This was obviously a one-sided conversation with Lovina...

Dandelion Jelly
You can scale this recipe up or down depending on how many dandelion blossoms you have. The blossoms are also better when picked early in the day. You may need to pick dandelions from more than just your own lawn as you need quite a few - just try to make sure they haven't been sprayed with anything poisonous.

3 cups
dandelion blossoms, without stems and picked over to remove grass
3 cups
1 tsp
lemon zest

jam setting sugar (exact amount depends – see instructions below)

jam jars (about 4 – depending on the size)

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the dandelion blossoms. Boil the blossoms for exactly 3 minutes. Strain the blossom liquid by pouring the saucepan contents into a finely meshed sieve set over a bowl. The clearer the liquid in the bowl the better so you could line the sieve with cheesecloth if you really wanted to - I didn't. The blossoms have now done their job and are no longer needed.

Measure the amount of blossom liquid you now have back into the saucepan and, for every 1 cup of liquid, add 1 cup of jam setting sugar. Add the lemon zest, stir well, and bring to a boil. Boil the jelly for 3 minutes. Immediately pour the finished jelly into sterilised jars and screw on the lids. The heat of the jelly will seal the jars.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog, especially your conversation with Lovina - and she did answer your questions in the end! What did the jelly taste like and what did you do with it?

Miri said...

Thank you, Christine! The jelly tasted a little honey-ish (if that makes sense?) and I used it on toast and on a cheesecake :)

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