If you love the taste of honey (with a hint of meringue pie) and have a lot of dandelions in your yard, you can turn that nuisance "weed" into sweet tasting jelly for your family and friends, Here's how... A couple weeks ago, a friend of a friend remarked during dinner about her enthusiasm for making dandelion jelly. “Tastes like honey…” was her commentary and since I love honey, I purposed to create this nectar of the dandelion at my first opportunity. (In addition to jelly, you can create a syrup or wine from the blossoms as well.) Dandelion Petals Have Some Medicinal Value In my research, in most of my go-to resources, I could find no mention of any real medicinal value to the flowers, fresh or as an infusion (the leaves and roots are another story), until I dug into Healing Wise by Susun Weed. (I think it is too funny that that is her name and she is an herbalist!) According to her, dandelion flowers are good for beautification, pain relief and heart health. She says fresh blossoms steeped in boiling water for at least an hour are amazing for beautifying your face and
dealing with just about any facial skin anomoly you might have - putting the strained flowers on your face first for a while and then rinsing off with the liquid w/o following with plain water. I must try this! She recommends making dandelion wine for a heart strengthener and claims that an infusion will rid one of aches of all kinds -head, back, stomach, cramps, etc.! In addition, if you infuse an oil with the blossoms and then rub it into painful, sore and stiff areas, it should help with stiff necks, arthritic joints and such. I have infused St. John's Wort in oil for this reason...hmmm - I think this year I will add in some dandelion heads!
Now, I'm not sure if any healing value is left after all the processing of a jelly, but it is fun to just know that this is a creation from a gift of nature. These are my favorite ventures in life! What To Do On A Sunny Day Yesterday was the sunny, pleasant, relaxed day I was looking for to pick the flowerheads. Little did I know it would take me 3 hours(!!) to collect enough flower petals (a loosely-packed quart) to do a batch of jelly! This is one situation where you want to ask all hands on deck to help because otherwise, I’m just not sure the result justifies the time expense! But for me, I was just enjoying the sun and downtime as I picked enough flowers and de-bracted them.
Don't Leave Any Green! Dandelion greens are bitters, so that includes the bracts that hold in the flower petals…it is important that if you want a sweet product, that you remove all the green parts! This is very time consuming! I used my thumbnails and broke each base in half and then ran my thumbnail along the base of the flower head to release the petals. Another friend says you just have to develop a technique of twisting the bracts while squeezing them and the petals will just fall into your hand.
It takes a lot of flower heads to get a quart of petals and honestly, I just had to be done at one point and shook up my jar to expand the volume! (They had indeed settled down into the jar and gotten moist.) Make the Infusion First I then brought the petals indoors and boiled them in a pot with 2 quarts of fresh, non-chlorinated water for 10 minutes. I decided to let this infusion sit overnight for the best potency. In the morning, I strained twice, first through a double layer of cheesecloth and then through a coffee filter. I had 6 cups of liquid.
Then Make Jelly! Using Pomona’s Universal Pectin, I came up with the following recipe for 6 cups of dandelion tea: 3/4 cup fresh (if possible) lemon juice zest from two lemons 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scooped into the liquid 3 cups sugar 2 Tbs. calcium water 2 Tbs + 1/2 tsp pectin Then I just followed the general directions for using Pomonas. Altogether I got 5 1/2 pints and 8 4-oz jars. (About 4 1/2 pints.)
Does it taste like honey? Well my honest first impression is that it tastes like like a mix between honey and lemon meringue pie! This recipe jelled nicely and has a very pleasant delicate lemony-vanilla flavor. And David loves it!!! I think this is going to be a very nice accompaniment to popovers!