dandelion jelly and notes on pectin

We went on a buying spree at the farmers market Saturday because it happened to be the summer debut of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and berries. This, of course, spawned a canning spree last night after it was cool enough in the house. (We’re still going with just open windows since it hasn’t gotten up to 90 yet.)

The first on the list was dandelion jelly. The process of collecting flowers for this jelly was pretty straightforward. I rounded up some children, headed into a yard that hadn’t been sprayed, and had a big bag of flowers picked in about half an hour. H and I sat in the kitchen afterward peeling away the petals from the leaves. While it’s not a terribly difficult task it was somewhat tedious. We ended up stopping at a quart and composting the rest.

We actually picked these in the last week of April, but I was preparing to present my thesis, take my finals, and graduate, so I packed a jar full and froze them. Someone on the internet said this was okay to do…
As you can see, we only managed to get about 99.9% of the green off.
So last night we used them in this dandelion jelly recipe. It was my first time making jelly instead of jam, and maybe I wasn’t as nervous as I should have been, because it was also my first time using Pomona Pectin. I’ve been using Canning for a New Generation more than any other canning book in the last two years, and the author doesn’t use any pectin in this book. Instead of researching this odd behavior, I concluded something must be wrong with Ball pectin and bought Pomona’s as a substitute for recipes where I might need pectin. From what I understand now after actually doing some legwork, the dextrose – a corn derivative – is an issue for some. Pomona’s also has the advantage of being activated by calcium instead of sugar, so you don’t have to add as much.
I skimmed through the pectin directions in the middle of the recipe, and then, of course, had to rush off and wing it. Had I read those directions, I would have learned that the pectin clumps up if you don’t mix it thoroughly with the sugar first. By whisking like mad, I managed to dissolve the majority of the pectin and end up with a slightly softer but still pretty successful jelly. It’s an attractive burnt gold color, and the flavor is subtle and is more honied than floral. I’ll be interested to see how it works out in a biscuit.
Next year, maybe I can work up the patience to get enough fluff to add this Dandelion Wine to the list as well.
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