Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fireweed Jelly

I love being a hunter and gatherer!  Although hunting has been a little trickier with a baby, I was still able to do a little gathering this year (and had some saved up from last!)  For those who have visited Fairbanks at the right time of summer,you can attest to the areas prosperity of wildflowers (love this!) especially fireweed.  Shortly after moving up here I read about some locals who turned this beautiful flower into jelly and I had to give it a try.  I searched until I found (most of) a recipe, tweaked it ever so slightly and gave it a go.  Days when the temperature does't break 30 below are good for this sort of thing!

Step 1:  When the flowers are in full blossom, pick 8 cups of the flowers only (confession, I had one or two leaves that didn't get plucked out).  I then freezer bagged these and popped them into the freezer until I had a cold day at home to cook in front of the stove with quiet music playing, a fire blazing, and a sweet baby entertaining himself on the rug.  Ah...okay it didn't look exactly like that. But it was cold! =)

Then, for the jelly:

8 cups frozen fireweed blossoms
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 1/2 cups water
2 packets of Sure Jell or equivalent
5 cups of sugar
4 pint jars or equivalent, clean and lids heated*

Place frozen blossoms in a large pot over which pour the lemon juice and water.  Bring to a boil and continue for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I got worried at this point: the flowers all started turning a dingy brown color and smelling very earthy.  Not appetizing.  Hang in there.  It gets better.

Then sift into a large bowl.  Since I wanted a few petals to remain in mine, I just used a colander, but you could use something finer if you wanted.

Return liquid to pot and allow the liquid to cool just a little (near room temp).  Fynn started fussing at this point and I was in a hurry, so I used my accelerated cool method:

Then you're going to add the two packets of Sure Jell and stir until dissolved as you bring the liquid back to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute, then add sugar, and boil robustly for 10 more minutes while stirring.  Pour jelly directly into jars and seal lids.

I don't have anything big enough for a water bath for these jars, so I had my  sink half filled with the hotttest water I could, placed the jars in upside down, then poured boiling water from my tea pot over.  I promptly boiled another pot and added it as soon as it was ready.  It worked!  They sealed beautifully!

*Heating the lids:  space is precious in our cabin, so instead  of heating all of the jars, I just placed the lids in a frying pan of water over the lowest heat on the stove top.  Not correct but it worked.

I was so pleased with how it turned out!  It tastes great and has great color.  So fun!  I'm definitely going to have to do this again!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! With lots of fire weed down here I will give this a try (in a couple of months).