Anyone who has been around me here or on facebook for long knows that I love making floral jellies. There is something almost magical about harvesting the essence of the season and packaging up in a jar for later.
One of the first one’s I wanted to try was Queen Anne’s Lace jelly, but that was when I was just starting to read about foraging. And I read about this woman in Iowa who thought she was collecting Queen Anne’s Lace and made herself up a big batch of hemlock jelly.
And that made me nervous. Because what if all along, I’ve been collecting water hemlock to stick in jars of dyed water to show how water moves through a plant? And collecting water hemlock for spontaneous wildflower displays in my window? I mean, I grew up in the suburbs, harvesting food from the grocery aisle. What did I really know about foraging, and edible plants and deadly look alikes?
Except the more I read, the more I was convinced that hemlock didn’t look all that much like Queen Anne’s Lace. It doesn’t grow in the same places. And it stinks. And is irritating to the skin (though the green leaves of Queen Anne’s Lace can be, too!). But Queen Anne’s Lace just smells like carrot. It makes your hands smell like carrot. And it usually has a dark blossom right in the center. It’s sort of purplish. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. I had never looked closely enough at it until I was trying to make sure it wasn’t going to kill me.
Make sure you know what you’re harvesting. And don’t accidentally kill yourself and your whole family with a little forray into floral jellies.
So, Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly.
By the way, I’m kind of a sucker for natural. I don’t add artificial dyes to any of my jellies. Even lilac jelly which would be beautiful if it were a subtle shade of lavender. Feel free to add food coloring if that makes you happy!
Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly
(This recipe is for a double batch and will make about 8 half pint jars.)
4 cups Queen Anne’s Lace blossoms, green stems removed (I just snip with scissors. Don’t worry about separating each individual little blossom.)
4 cups boiling water
8 tablespoons lemon juice
2 packages liquid pectin
8 cups sugar
Rinse blossoms and place in a large glass or stainless steal container. Cover with boiling water, cover with a lid and let sit for 24 hours. This makes the infusion for the jelly. It doesn’t smell as nice as some of the other infusions but don’t worry about it.
Strain the blossoms, squeezing out the excess water, and discard. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the infusion and bring to a boil, stirring continually.
Once it reaches a rolling boil, add the pectin and stir for one minute, skimming off the foam as it forms.
Process like you would any other jelly. Here’s a great tutorial from Owlhaven.
And enjoy a teaspoonful of the summer sunshine on a piece of toast. Maybe it’s because it’s the first jelly I’ve made this year, but the flavor rivals any I’ve made before. It was that good.
I’m sure hemlock jelly wouldn’t have been nearly as tasty.
Other floral jellies I’ve made:
(If you actually read these, you’ll notice that the recipes are pretty much the same. You just substitute whatever EDIBLE blossom for what is in the recipe. I used to use powdered pectin but have switched to liquid because it is more forgiving of doubling the recipe. And all these recipes are doubled.)
Do you harvest any wild flowers or greens for the table? What recipes do you like best?