Have you ever eaten dandelions? While some people seem to think dandelions are the scourge of the backyard, others (like me) prefer to think of them as a gift of free food! This dandelion jelly recipe has a light citrus flavor that is sure to make you a lover of this “weed!”
The first step in making this jelly is to gather dandelion blossoms! This part is important, so listen closely! Do not gather in yards that have had chemical pesticides applied! Personally, I don’t gather them where I know people use chemical fertilizers either. Who wants that in their jelly? Gross!
We live on almost 3 acres, so I usually have plenty right here, but if you just put the word out that you want dandelions from chemical-free yards, people will practically beg you to come pick at their house! Besides, most people can’t fathom what you would do with dandelions anyway, so they will watch you with a combination of suspicion and amusement. Of course it is kind to repay them, by gifting a jar of the finished jelly, but I’ll caution you! Once they discover how good it is, they might not share their blossoms again the next year!
The best time to pick dandelions is mid-morning until around noon or 1:00 pm. They close up at night, and you need good open blooms to work with. Once you have picked 4-6 cups of blooms, you will need to process them quickly. I usually watch TV or something while I sit and separate the yellow petals from the green parts of the flower. The green is bitter, so you want very little of it in your jelly. This is a bit time consuming, but hey, they were free!
If you let the blooms sit around too long, they will close up and essentially become useless (or at least very difficult to work with.) You will be sad, so don’t start the picking process unless you have time to do this!
Once you have the petals separated, put them in a jar or large glass measuring cup and add a quart of boiling water. Let the “tea” steep for about an hour, then strain out the petals and you are ready to make jelly! If you don’t have time to make jelly at this point, don’t worry, just put the tea in the refrigerator until later. (Sidenote: I never mark what it is. It looks remarkably like urine and I find it amusing to watch people’s reaction to seeing it in my fridge. Sadly, my family is now onto my joke… I need to get out more.)
If you are completely new to jelly making and using a water bath canner, I highly recommend reading up a little on the Pick Your Own website for helpful canning tips! This recipe makes about 6 8oz Mason jars of dandelion jelly.
- 4-6 cups of dandelion flowers
- 1 quart boiling water
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- 5½ cups raw sugar (for a more yellow jelly, use white sugar instead)
- 1 package of powdered pectin (for low sugar recipes)
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Separate the petals from the green parts of the flowers.
- Pour 1 quart of boiling water over the petals and let steep for 1 hour to make dandelion tea.
- Strain the flowers away from the tea, being sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Add 3 cups of the dandelion tea to a pot, along with the lime juice and zest.
- Mix ½ cup of sugar to a small bowl and mix in the powdered pectin.
- Add the sugar-pectin mixture to the pot.
- Bring to a boil and then add the remaining 5 cups of sugar.
- Return to a boil and boil hard while stirring for 90 seconds.
- Remove from burner, check for "jell" by scooping up a small amount with an ice-cold spoon. Allow to cool just a little and make sure the jelly is setting up. (If not, return to a boil for another 30 seconds or so and try again.)
- If the mixture jells to your liking, add in the vanilla extract, mix well, and proceed to filling your jars.
- Process jars for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
***This recipe assumes you have some knowledge of how to properly handle and seal jars in a water bath. If you have never done this, please look up complete canning instructions before undertaking this recipe. As an alternative, you may store in the refrigerator for immediate use or freezer long-term.***