Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Elderberry Flower Jelly

After I left the writers conference on Sunday, I planned to do nothing but sit on the porch and read some of the poetry books I'd picked up.

Then I saw some elderberry bushes in full bloom and remembered that I wanted to try making jelly with the flowers. Best laid plans oft gang aglee, as Robert Burns said.

It's getting near the end of bloom in my area, so I searched for a bush in the shade along Joe's Run and picked a bag full of flower clusters. Picking elderflowers will make you young again, I found--or at least you will feel young again with the dainty white blossoms scattered in your hair. I think I finally got them all out this morning.

Here's my bag of flowers. I picked a lot; this is a good year for the elderberry bloom in this area so there was plenty to choose from. I ended up not using them all, but the chickens enjoyed the leftovers.

At home, I stripped the tiny flowerets off of the stems and packed them into quart jars. This took a little while; I didn't want any green stems that might have made the infusion bitter.

When the jars were full of flowerets, I filled them with boiling water, waited a little bit, and then added more water as the flowers wilted and the water level in the jars dropped. Then I left it to "brew" for a little while before straining the liquid from the flowers. I used a screen strainer and a men's white hanky to strain through. The resulting liquid was a lovely golden color.

I ended up with about 5 cups of a beautiful rich gold liquid. By this time I was tired and not measuring things, a bad habit I have. I put the liquid into my enamel jelly-cooking pot, added a package of powdered pectin and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, stirred well, then brought the liquid to a boil. When it was boiling hard I added about 6 cups of sugar and cooked, boiling hard still, for one minute. Then I removed the kettle from the fire and began skimming off the white foam on top.

That was when I had one of my less-than-brilliant ideas. Wouldn't it be pretty, I thought, if little flowers were suspended in the jelly? So I added a good handful of the tiny blossoms to the pot and stirred.

Bad idea. The flowers didn't "suspend": they floated wight on top no matter how much I stirred. I ended up skimming them all out, which took a good bit of time. Curses. I was already tired and I just made more work for myself.

When all the flowers were finally skimmed out, I poured the jelly into half-pint jars. I ended up with 6 half-pints, a bigger yield than I expected. now, the big question: did it set?

It did!
The color is so pretty and the flavor is delicate, lemony, and summery. I looked online later and found that some people also make rhubarb-elderflower jelly and gooseberry-elderflower jelly. Those are probably good too, but for now I am happy with my end result, which is better than the Redbud jelly-syrup I ended up with in my last flower jelly experiment. Although I am here to tell you that the Redbud is an amazing ice cream sauce, so it wasn't entirely a disaster.

Have you made anything with elderberry flowers? I've made fritters with them in the past, and wine, but I wonder if there are other concoctions someone might have tried with these pretty little flowers.


Carmen C. said...

I love the smell of elderberry flowers, and you look lovely with that scattering of blooms in your hair:)Enjoy your day!

Jason Burns said...

I've never tried Elderflower jelly, but Elderberry jelly is my favorite! It's worth dodging the stinkbugs to make!

Angela said...

Hey Granny Sue!

I know I've been seeing those flowers around here. I didn't know what they were. Now I might be able to find some of the berries once I mark where the flowers are at!

Your jelly looks beautiful!

TheresaandJay said...

Sue, you are amazing! What a pretty color jelly and I can't wait to taste it! :) I loved the Redbud Jelly syrup. Did the words of the song come to mind - "I love the flower child, flowers in her hair...." It is a pretty look for you. Love you tm

Beaudan said...

Sue you are too good..i love your flower jelly....its color , look and the recipe cant stay me away from tasting it.....UUUmmmmm...Yummy!!! :) Flowers

Twisted Fencepost said...

I think I learn something from you with each post.
Never heard of making jelly from flowers until I began reading it here.
I'd love to taste it. It looks really sweet.
As do the flowers in your hair.

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