Monday, May 31, 2010

spring bounty - aka partial success is better than total failure?

((as i'm finishing up this post, i'm watching yet more rain fall onto our already drenched grass. we've had over 3 inches in the last couple of days, and are expecting rain on and off for at least another week. 
when i originally started this post (a couple weeks ago) the lawn was still  in full flower. now it's mostly gone to seed. too bad. but perhaps i should start thinking about dandelion coffee?))

The back yard of our rental lot is garden-less, but has a bounty of poorly cared-for lawn. (I've never been the golf-course green type. Heck, i'm not the golf type either!)
I consider this lawn a bounty because it is BRIMMING with dandelions, and I decided this year to start incorporating more wild plants into my diet. Now, i'm a little skeptical of using the dandelion greens for salad, mostly as i'm not a huge salad fan. However, i recently came across a recipe for Dandelion jam, and after mulling it over for a few weeks, decided to take the plunge and make some for myself.
I searched about on the net, and ended up using this recipe, with minor alterations.
 fresh flowers

Now, before i print the recipes, i should note that NEITHER batch actually set on the first try. (i re-boiled with a second pectin pack and they're all fine) However, i think this is because i didn't bring them to a high enough boil for long enough before canning them. So, well.... consider yourself warned.

Pick yourself a bunch of fully opened dandelion flowers. don't be surprised if you pick either way too many, or way too few! (i picked enough for all three batches PLUS extras in about 20 mins with my daughter)
to prepare the petals, use scissors to cut off the petal part, and discard the bottom of the flower and stem ( see this post for good pictures!)
prepared petals

Batch one: Dandelion Jam

2Cups prepared dandelion petals (about 200 flowers)
2 cups boiling water
1pkg pectin
1 peeled, cored, and pureed apple
4 Cups sugar
1 tbsp Lemon juice

1. in a heat-safe bowl, place petals. Pour boiling water on top. cover, and refrigerate overnight. 
2. in the morning, strain the petals. pour the liquid into a largish pot.
3. Follow the directions on the pectin box for jelly  (make the same as for an apple jelly)... often the instructions suggest bringing to a boil with the pectin, THEN adding the sugar. PLEASE READ YOUR DIRECTIONS! (as a side note, i would recommend liquid pectin for these recipes) 
4. if your pectin is direction-less, try this method (as per the recipe i altered): add all remaining ingredients including pectin.  bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Hard boil for 10 minutes (that's a bubbly rolling boil, not a wimpy barely-bubbling boil).
5. pour into jars and seal as desired (i canned mine in 250ml jars for 10 minutes)
makes 4-5 cups

petals steeping in boiling water

batch two: Dandelion citrus Jam
2 cups prepared petals (about 200 flowers)
2 cups boiling water
1/4 Cup Lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 pkg pectin
1 citrus fruit rind, finely sliced

note: i used about 2/3 the rind of a grapefruit. you can use whatever fruit you like. i used a peeler to remove sheets of peel (without the white rind), then sliced them into julienne-style strips about 1/8" by 1" long   

preparation: follow directions from batch one. it's exactly the same procedure!

After trimming all those petals for the jam batches, i still had a TON of flowers, so i decided to make a batch of Dandelion syrup as well. The recipe i used is based on this one.

Dandelion syrup
400 dandelion flowers, trimmed (around 4 cups)
4 cups of water
4 1/2  cups sugar
2tbs lemon juice

1.  pour boiling water over flower tops. cover and refrigerate overnight. 
2. in the morning, strain off the liquid, and pour it into a large pot. Add to this the remaining ingredients. Bring this to a low boil (simmer) and cook for about two hours, stirring occasionally. 
3. At about the two hour mark, the syrup will begin becoming more frothy (and increasing in temperature as it starts to candy). take it off the heat.
4. pour into jars or containers, and can if desired
5. this makes about 4 cups

here is the finished products:

left to right: Syrup, batch one, batch two

I've tried the syrup on pancakes, and little girl has enjoyed the apple dandelion jam on bread.... a nice light floral flavor, and subtle lemony-ness make this quite enjoyable!

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