After experimenting with different amounts of blossoms and water, I’ve developed recipes that work with common redbud, violet, forsythia, dandelion, and honeysuckle flowers. Pick blossoms only; no leaves or stems. For dandelions, pluck the yellow flower blossoms out of the tiny bottom leaves holding it together. You’ll want to remove as much of the green as possible, as it tastes bitter. For honeysuckle, remove green tips but leave stamens in.
You first have to coax the flavor and color out of the flowers by making an infusion. Measure blossoms before cleaning.
Redbud: 3 cups packed flowers to 4 cups boiling water
Honeysuckle: 3 cups packed flowers to 4 cups boiling water
Violet: 4 cups packed flowers to 4 cups boiling water
Forsythia: 4 cups packed flowers to 4 cups boiling water
Dandelion: 2 cups packed flowers to 4 cups boiling water.
Place flowers in bowl. Pour boiling water over. Weigh down with saucer to keep petals under the water. Infuse 12 hours at room temperature.
Strain through a fine strainer, pressing down on solids. You should have 3 cups infusion. If not, add water to make 3 cups. Infusion can be frozen up to 6 months.
MASTER RECIPE WILDFLOWER JELLY
Recipe makes about six jars, 8 oz. each. Use any size jar you like, as long as they’re glass canning jars with proper lids and rings. Wildflower jelly is lovely on a warm scone.
3 cups wildflower infusion
1/4 cup strained lemon juice
1 box (1.75 oz.) powdered pectin
41/2 cups granulated sugar
Boil jars on rack in large pot filled with water for 10 minutes. Keep in hot water until ready to fill. In small pan, keep lids and rings in hot water.
Place infusion, lemon juice, and pectin in a 6–8 quart pot. Over high heat, bring to a rolling boil, one that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Continue stirring, add sugar all at once and bring back to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.
Pour into hot jars to within 1/4 inch from top. Remove any foam. Wipe rims with a clean, wet cloth. Place lids on jars, screw on rings. Process sealed jelly in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Let cool away from drafts. Check seals after one hour. Refrigerate unsealed jars. Sealed jars keep in pantry up to 1 year.
Rita is an award-winning syndicated journalist, inductee into Escoffier Hall of Fame, President’s Medal ACF, Appalachian herbal scholar, accredited family herbalist, author, cooking teacher, media personality, motivational speaker, and the founding editor of AboutEating.com. She pens a weekly column for Community Press Newspapers and writes about food, health, and gardening for national publications.