I like dandelions, I'll admit it. I love the fact that they provide an important spring nectar source for beneficial insects. I appreciate their bright blossoms, which currently blanket several median strips in my neighborhood. Nearly every part of the plant is edible. And maybe the most delicious way to enjoy your dandelions is to make a batch of dandelion jelly.Dandelion jelly requires a bit of work, but nothing too taxing, and the result is totally worth it. You have to harvest at least 4 cups of dandelion flower heads (no stems, just the flower heads). You'll want to harvest these from areas that have not been treated with herbicides and pesticides, obviously. Then, you pull or trim all of the flower petals off of the remaining bit of stem that's holding them together. You'll need 2 cups of pure dandelion petals to make 2 pints of dandelion jelly. Also note that you don't have to collect all of the dandelion blossoms at once if you're not able to. You can freeze them until you have enough blossoms to make your jelly. Then, just thaw them by setting them on the counter for a couple of hours. In addition, you'll need:
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 teaspoons of pectin
You'll also need jars (1/2 or 1 pint size) and lids. If you are planning on putting up your jelly for later use, you'll also need equipment for boiling water bath canning. You don't have to go through the boiling water canning step if you're planning to use your jelly within 3 weeks -- just store it in the refrigerator. The flavor of dandelion jelly is very much like honey. It's delicious on toast, mixed into oatmeal, or even on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
For full instructions on how to make it, check out my favorite dandelion jelly recipe from The New York Times.
More About Useful Weeds:
What Your Garden's Weeds are Trying to Tell You
Weekday Vegetarian: Forage to Make This Dandelion Quiche
Spinach Dandelion Salad