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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back alley gold

I'm not crazy. 
That's what I keep telling myself while foraging for the little yellow flowers. Since I discovered dandelion jelly a few months ago I've been hooked. It's sweet, honey-like flavor is coveted around the home-front and one day during summer I was down to the last tablespoon. So, I skipped merrily down the back lanes of East Vancouver pinching off the yellow heads where I could find them and dropping them in to my plastic bag. Now I know what you're thinking.
Back lanes of East Van? Eeeew! They're probably covered in pee and poo! Hey, I have standards. I tend to look in fenced off vacant lots and grassy knolls where they're more likely to be left unfettered and un-peed on. Sweatpants clad middle-aged dads armed with herbicide hunt dandelion like the war on terrorism. Funny how something so despised by many a gardener can be absolute GOLD in my eyes.
On the left, Strawberry Jam and on the right, Dandelion Jelly.

While there are a plethora of recipes online the method is standard. You're just making jelly like you would any juice jelly. All you have to do is make a tincture from the petals and proceed as usual with sugar, pectin and lemon juice. Here's the one I use.

Removing the petals is rather time consuming but I usually do it watching the tube or sitting out on my balcony. I kind of zone out - very zen. The simmering tincture smells so nice. It's like a big pot of chamomile tea brewing. I strain it several times to remove any miniscule particles which helps produce a more clear jelly. Then the liquid gets boiled along with pectin (I use Pamona pectin), sugar and lemon juice and then ladled into very hot jars and processed in a water bath for ten minutes.

Sadly, when Winter comes the dandelions are few and far between. So this is definitely a seasonal thing. But if you'd like to have a jar of mine now click here. Get it while it lasts because once their gone you'll have to wait until spring when the dandelions start blooming again.