My love of lilacs is continuing today with a post about lilac jelly. If you missed it, here's the first post about my favorite flower at the moment which tells you more about lilacs and how to prepare them.
I had never made jelly before so this whole experiment was a first for me on many levels. The recipe I used was very easy, until the moment I realized that I didn't have the same brand of pectin that the recipe called for (I actually didn't even know there were different types of pectin - live and learn!). I figured the recipe would still turn out using the pectin I had on hand (Pomona's), and it sort-of did, but the jelly didn't set. I think it's because Pomona's doesn't use sugar to set the jelly, and I got confused somewhere along the way and mis-read the directions that came with the Pomona's.
More like syrup than jelly, but still tastes good!
Even though the jelly didn't set this first time around, I'm still pretty happy with the way it turned out. This was also a good lesson for me to be kind to myself when I mess something up. The jelly looks kinda weird, but still tastes good and it achieved my original goal: to make something with lilac flowers. I'm sure the jelly would set with either using the pectin that the original recipe called for, or by learning more about how to use the Pomona's.
Here's the recipe!
First, you'll be infusing the flowers with water:
2 cups firmly packed lilac flowers, stems removed
2 1/2 cups boiling water
Place the lilac flowers in a non-reactive (glass or ceramic) jar or bowl. Pour the boiling water over the flowers, cover tightly and let cool at least 8 hours. Once cool, pour this mixture through a fine-meshed strainer and make sure to squeeze the flowers to get all of the liquid out of them.
Now you can make the jelly:
2 cups of the lilac and water infusion
4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 box Sure-Jell powdered pectin (this is the brand the original recipe called for, and where I think mine went wrong)
4 cups of sugar (you can experiment with this too)
In a large pot, bring the lilac infusion, lemon juice and pectin to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. While stirring to make sure the sugar dissolves, add all of the sugar at once and bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
The finished product is sweet (I think next time I'll reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe, especially if I try to use the Pomona's brand again), and actually tastes a cross between raspberry and strawberry jelly, which was surprising to me. Also, the color is a beautiful deep pink which makes me happy every time I see it. I think for this batch we will use it more like a syrup than jelly since it is so runny but we will definitely be eating this without hesitation! I think it would be especially good drizzled on pancakes, yogurt or vanilla ice cream. As you can see, I chose to have mine with ice cream and it was oh-so delicious, especially with the addition of the mint.
The most rewarding part of this process (besides the ice cream, of course!) was creating something from plants growing locally. I'm excited to try the jelly recipe again using some other in-season flower or berry!
Is there something specific you'd like me to write about? Leave a comment below and let me know!