Every spring there comes a moment when I walk into the yard and become overwhelmed with a thick sweet scent. The first year it happened I was convinced I had spilled syrup in the yard. Turns out it was a lilac bush. This year the lilacs came early and I had the wherewith all to gather the flowers and make jelly.
Flower jelly is just like any other jelly. The key is to pick your flowers early in the day when they have the most internal water. Don't use anything that has any type of anything sprayed on it. Then it all comes down to ratios.
You will need to make an infusion or tea out of the petals. Use roughly equal parts petals to liquid, with just a touch more of the liquid. Water is fine. I like a mild white wine. Some people recommend apple juice, but that adds another layer of sweetness.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then pour over the petals. Allow to steep for several hours. I let it steep till it is cold, then I put in the refrigerator overnight. Drain the liquid from the petals to use the flower water.
For the jelly the same ratio applies to water and sugar. You want roughly the same amount of sugar as you have flower water. Then you need lemon juice as the acid and sugar make the pectin work. For every two cups of sugar, add the juice of one lemon or 1/4 cup of lemon juice. ( I use bottled lemon juice because the strength of the acid is constant.) For every two cups of sugar I use one packet of pectin. That is 3 ounces of liquid pectin. (I like the liquid pectin, but I often use the powdered.)
Now mix the flower water with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil, skim off impurities. Add liquid pectin and bring back to a rolling boil. (Pectin often says boil for one minute, don't worry too much. You want to bring it back to a hard boil, so if that takes a bit longer it's OK, but don't boil it for another 10 minutes!)
Fill your prepared jars and process for 10 minutes.
Here is what the recipe looks like:
Flower Jamellyflower water
2 cups fresh flower petals (make sure they have not been treated with anything)2 cups water or a mild white wineBring the liquid to a boil. Pour over flower petals and allow to steep. I like to steep the petals until they are cool, then refrigerate the soaking petals overnight.To use, strain the petals from the water.jelly2 cups flower water2 cups sugar1/4 cup lemon juice1 packet (3 ounces) liquid pectinMix the water, lemon juice and sugar in a preserving pan. Bring to a rolling boil, skimming off impurities. Add the liquid pectin, return to a rolling boil.
Ladle into jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
I made a double batch as I had a lot of lilac infusion. Have flowers, but don't have the time to make the jelly? Once you strain the infusion, simply freeze the flower water till you have jelly making time.
Why jamelly? Traditionally, jelly is strained through a jelly bag, and often strained again for a pristine, clarified and firm jelly. We like a bit on the less refined side, so it might be a bit cloudy and a touch softer than the stuff you get in the jelly isle at the grocery.
Some recipes suggest a drop or two of food coloring, but why add something artificial to something you made? Frankly, this photo sucks. The color is more from the cutting board than the jamelly. It turned out a nice soft pink.