Let’s be honest, there is no better way to launch the canning season other than by putting up dandelion jelly. Am I right? Of course I am! Those beautiful yellow flowers are the true indicator that summer, and the growing season, is fast approaching.
Much of the country knows the dandelion as a weed and not an item which can be consumed as food source or used for medicinal purposes. Even I, at first, couldn’t wrap my mind around why anyone would want to invest their time foraging for a weed until I realized what a gold mine it truly was. The uses for this amazing ‘weed’ are beyond what many can image and our blog, 25 Uses for the Dandelion Plant ~ Flowers, Greens, and Root.
As our journey to live a sustainable life progressed the thought of being able to preserve items in which could be forage became the goal…and the tradition of canning dandelion jelly began.
Enable your Children
The year as our little Lola turned 9 I knew it was time to teach her how to can and begin preserving the harvest. Care to guess where we started? Since this was going to be her first solo canning attempt I wanted her to experience the true value of it ~ foraging, preserving and consuming foods made through her efforts.
Out to the neighbor’s pasture she went, managing to harvested a basket full of dandelion flowers. This sweet child tediously selected the largest flower, and even harvested young greens to be added to our dinner salad. Oh, let’s not forget the large amount gathered for the rabbits and ducklings. I think everyone was in heaven this day.
The delight in gathering, preparing and selling the jars she worked tirelessly on gave her a sense of encouragement and fulfillment. This child of mine sold over 20 jars her first round to friends and family and truly did a great job!
The goal as a homesteading momma is the ability to pass down the torch of how to homestead, and nothing could be more gratifying than to teach your children how to find food and preserve it. This has been done for centuries yet much of the youth of today have no idea on how to glean for foods in our surrounding area. Our goal is to break away from this type of normal and give our children skills which our forefathers used, simply stated, survival skills.
Save the Bees
Ok, let’s clear the air. Consuming dandelion blossoms does not mean you’re stealing them from the bees, I promise! Dandelions are a quick reproducing herb, or weed depending on how you want to see it, and within 48 hours it has the ability to produce additional blossoms. Whew, glad that’s cleared up!
Why did my jelly not taste like honey?
Making dandelion jelly requires a few steps, and the process is much longer than most jams or jellies. The pedals are the only part of the flower which is actually used to make the jelly, and the green base should be discarded. Don’t worry, a little green won’t hurt but to much of will alter the flavor of the jelly.
In order to make ‘jelly’ you need to seep the pedals in water creating a tea. This is done by adding boiling water to the petals and allowing it to sit for a few hours, but for best results let it brew overnight.
Finally, don’t skip the sweetener or minimize the sugar amount. This is what creates the honey flavor, a no sugar pectin can be used though it’s not going to give you the flavor it was meant to have. If you haven’t, a copy of my book can be picked up here. The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest covers everything you will to know about the various types of sugars one can use, and why (unless it’s for health reasons) leaving refined sugar out can alter the flavor of you jelly or jam.
Can it up
Jelly is safe being canned in a hot water bath (HWB), and the processing time will depend on your altitude. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t touched my HWB canner in a few years, instead use a steam canner.
About the steam canner ; this tool is the game changer for putting up high acidic items like pickled, jellies and jams. This canning tool uses only 1 inch of water and canning in the summer has become more bearable!
If you are needing advice on canning (pressure or HWB) the National Center for Home Food Preservation can answer many canning or preserving question.
We love to have this jelly over homemade bread, goat’s cheese or with Brie. Though the kids love the basic jelly, we adults love jalapeno-dandelion jelly the best!
Make sure you involve the kids in this one, they will love it!
Other Delicious Dandelion Foods!
Fried Dandelion Heads by They’re not Our Goats
Rhubarb Dandelion Pie by City Girl Farming
Find more of our family’s favorite preserving recipes in our new book, The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest. The guide is an easy to comprehend book regard the preserving foods using home methods, while providing you the confidence needed to properly store the harvest. Pick up your copy here!
A steam canner is our canning tool of choice, you really need to give it a try!