Sunday, June 23, 2013

Letting Lilacs Linger...

Lilac Jelly

Spring didn't sprung so much here, in Duluth, Minnesota this year.  It teased us.  It tip-toed in through the back door.  This soggy, foggy day the green is nearly fluorescent.  It has been great grass growing weather, with just a few dry days every so often as to permit mowing it. So. Good things come to those who wait, right? I know, I know.  That's the anti-Carpe Diem mantra but it's in Mama Nature's hands, not mine, so it's what I've got right now.

And June days are waning. And lilacs are in bloom!  Tulips, too, especially near the big lake. We don't have lilacs in our yard, but we're thankful that we have neighbors who share.  This year,  I went searching for a way to preserve the lovely lilac's heavenly scent.  And I found a recipe for preserves.  Seems fitting.

Lilacs are an edible flower.  Not the tastiest on their own, kind of bitter, but pretty atop a salad, or a cupcake, nonetheless.  They also can be steeped in a tea, folded into a muffin batter, a lilac infusion can be turned into a fragrant simple syrup, used to make a fragrance mist and you can even make it in to a lilac jelly.  Lilac jelly? Yes. Let's do it.  This is a multi-day recipe.  You need to harvest your lilac flowers, remove each of the florets from the stems removing all 'green' parts, and then pour boiling water over it, cover and allow to set for 24hours.  This is your lilac infusion.  You will use a 1:1 lilac:boiling water ratio.  The second day you will add pectin, lemon juice and sugar and make and preserve your jelly.

Ingredients for Infusion:

4 cups lilac flowers
4 cups boiling water

Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the lilac flowers in a glass or non-reactive bowl and cover.  Allow to stand at room temperature for 24 hours. The color leaches out of the flowers quickly and leaves you a greenish-brownish tea looking infusion.

Ingredients for Lilac Jelly:

4 cups lilac infused water
2 packages of Sure-jel or powdered pectic of your choosing
8 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 cups of sugar
1/8-1/4 cup frozen blueberries (optional, to give 

(While or just before preparing the jelly, wash your jars, rings and lids, sterilize them in boiling water, take out hot just before filling while your canning water is allowed to continue to boil.  Filling hot jars with your hot jelly and then processing them right away is key to avoiding glass breakage.)

Add pectin and lemon juice to the infused water in a deep pan. (This would be the time to put a few blueberries in cheesecloth or submerge them in a strainer as you'll see in pictures below if you'd like to enrich the color of the jelly.)   Bring to a boil, stirring often.  Add the sugar, stirring and bring again to a boil.  Boil one minute.  Fill your hot jars, wipe off rims with a wet cloth, put on your lids and screw on the rings.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, ensuring the tops of your jars are covered with boiling water.)  Allow to set up on the counter top overnight! 

I'm looking forward to giving away these jewel-colored jems of jelly as gifts...and unleashing a bit of spring at various points of the year!

Looking to extend the life of the lilac? Me, too.

First, you'll need to gently pull each flower off of the stem--you'll need 4 cups of flowers for the jelly recipe.

Then, pour boiling water over the flowers.  Cover and allow to sit for 24 hours at room temperature. to get out my ol' friend the canner.  Gather all your supplies!

Here's what the infused water looks like after straining out the flowers.

Add two boxes of pectin and 8T. of lemon juice to the infused water.  I also put about 1/8 c. of frozen blueberries we picked last year in Bayfield, WI to mash a bit for some pretty color.

Nice to have a helper.  Kinda scary at times, though, too! Use caution!

Ta Da!  So, so pretty! And fantastically fragrant and lovely tasting, too! Enjoy!

p.s.  I actually made 6 cups of infusion, so with my remaining two cups of infused water I made a 1:1 simple sugar syrup.  I added about 2 c. sugar and 4 blueberries to this, and cooked it down to 1 cup. Lilac martinis, anyone?


I found this fun mama-blog with her recipe for the jelly here:

And here's the how-to on making a simple syrup:

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