Here’s our recipe for freshly foraged forsythia and dandelion jelly with real vanilla and honey. It tastes like spring!
Foraging with the Family
My family and I have been trying to improve our understanding of and experience with foraging plants for food and medicine. I’m constantly perusing my yard and the yards of total strangers looking for nettle and purslane. We go up into the mountains and covetously seek out the pennyroyal and the elderberry.
Always being responsible about how much we take and leave behind, this new skill has stood us in good stead. We’ve used some wild-crafted yarrow several times to stop bleeding while hiking. We’ve also learned that we love to eat lambs quarter even more than spinach! Lately, we’ve started to branch out our wonderings and wanderings into the world of edible flowers.
To learn more about foraging, please see the Foraging section in the Green the Homestead chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Don’t have your own copy? No worries! We wrote on just for you and you can find that by clicking here. For a free sample of the foraging section, simply email me at Tessa@homesteadlady.com and I’ll get you set up.
Forsythia in the Garden
I love forsythia for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s one of the first heralds of spring where I live. First come the Lenten roses, then the early daffodils and then the forsythia. Like a parade of hope after a long winter.
I’m not too detail oriented in my garden, especially with my perennial flowers. If you can’t thrive on benign neglect as a perennial in my yard, you ain’t gonna hack it at all. Forsythia is perfect for me because she grows. She just grows and grows and is pure delight. Forsythia, when left unpruned, will from a huge bush with cascading branches that arch in great waterfalls of golden blooms in the spring. And there are so many blooms on each branch! And yes, each one is an edible flower.
Nerdy Farm Wife can even show you how to make Forsythia Soap – click here.
For a whole list of ideas and recipes for edible flowers, please visit this comprehensive post – Edible Flowers and other foraged foods.
For ideas on what to do with foraged foods and to learn more about foraging in general, please visit our foraging board on Pinterest where I team up with over 30 other bloggers to bring you great foraging information – please click here.
If you need a jelly that tastes like autumn (when it’s time for that), please visit this link to learn to make corn cob jelly!
I have several bushes of forsythia so sacrificing a few blossoms here and there to make this forsythia and dandelion jelly is no sacrifice at all. I certainly have enough dandelion blossoms to spare. You know you’re a true foraging weird-o when you can’t wait for the dandelions to start blooming- we just love those edible flowers! This recipe also uses real vanilla and raw honey, fyi.
Forsythia Dandelion Jelly
- About 9 cups of blossoms that become 3 cups of tea
- 3 cups quality honey
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Vanilla bean cut open and scraped
- 1 box regular pectin or appropriate amount of Pomona's pectin read the instructions in the box
Pick about 8-10 cups of fresh blooms. This isn't an exact science. For this batch, the kids and I picked one-part dandelions to two parts forsythia blooms. You can just make this with forsythia blooms, but I like the pollen and color boost the dandelions give the jelly.
I don't bother to take the bottoms off the forsythia as they just taste "plant-y" but I do remove the green bottoms of the dandelions since they're bitter. I cut off the green part with kitchen scissors and keep the petals, pollen and fluff.
Pour enough boiling water over the flowers to cover them—at least 4 cups. The more water you add, the weaker the tea will be and, therefore, the less golden flavor the jel-ly will have in the end. Fiddle with the recipe a few times until you find what you like.
Steep the water and flowers for 4 hours or overnight.
Strain through cheesecloth to remove the flower parts, leaving a lovely, golden tea.
Put tea, lemon juice and the contents of a box of pectin into a large saucepan. Add va-nilla seeds—you can also add the vanilla bean for the boiling. If you do that, simply remove the bean before you put the jelly into jars. Or, to be all hip and stuff, leave the bean in one jar and gift it to someone extra special.
Bring to a boil.
Bring back to a boil and boil for about 2 minutes. Ladle into hot, prepared jelly jars, leaving 1/4-inch head-space and assemble the lids.
Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
I was in a rush and didn’t have time for the water bath canner so I just filled the jars, secured the lids and inverted the jars on my countertop overnight. This will technically seal the jars but I’ve only ever done this with jellies that have a high sugar content. Plus, I put this batch in the fridge until we use it.
Inverted sealing breaks a cardinal rule of canning safety, so I can’t recommend that you do it. To learn the rules, you can visit this link. Be sure to read up and make your own decisions about methods and what makes your food safe.
Remember that botulism can’t be detected by smell or sight and that’s what you’re protecting yourself from by following the rules as they develop over the years. The rules change periodically so be sure to look for newer editions of your mom’s canning books, if you want to buy them yourself.
If I have a question about anything canning related, my online guru is Simply Canning. For example, I read her article about replacing sugar with honey (what I did in this recipe because I wanted the flavor of honey) in a jam recipe – click here to read that.