Dandelion Jelly: The Perfect Delicacy of Spring
Dandelion Jelly—a delicacy of Spring. Mildly sweet with notes of pollen and honeysuckle this light but complex jelly is a special guest at tea time, one you’ll want to invite to come back soon.
Home cooks who invest the time making it often loathes to share the crop, and rightly so when it is such a labor of love. Dandelions first make their appearance in early-to-mid-spring, often budding with crocus and daffodils. The window is brief but strong. The bright yellow flower can occasionally be found as summer goes on, but to make the jelly, the flowers must be plentiful. Dandelion jelly is made from the yellow leaves of the flower- the roots and stems are quite bitter and will turn the jelly. Where to pick is also important, highways are littered with dandelions but also absorb exhaust and smog. Well-manicured lawns may spry a few, but could be outfitted with fertilizer and not safe for consumption. The best dandelions for jelly are found in local parks, away from main roads. Bring young children to help pick the heads and fill a basket.
Holding the head of the flower in your fingers and twisting at the base the golden petals will fall out easily after a few twists. After 4-5 flowers, your fingers be stained with pollen and oil and you may be mistaken for a farmer. 4 cups of flowers are needed for one batch of jelly, so enlist a friend, sit in the backyard and enjoy the breeze. Petals can be rinsed to wash away little friends that find their way inside. From there the yellow petals are brewed into a strong tea, steeping for 2 hours, then strained. The remaining liquid is combined with a little sugar and pectin then set in a water bath canner and sealed.
Dandelion Jelly is best enjoyed generously layered over a smear of butter on any breakfast bread. Reserve some for high tea time fit for a queen. Dandelion jelly may be enjoyed by children, but better to hide the jar in the back of the refrigerator where no one else will find it…