Dandelion Jelly

The Health Benefits of Dandelions - an interesting article that popped up in my news feed early this May. I knew about the roots, having purchased powder from a naturopath late last year. It was recommended for its anti-inflammatory properties, something I decided to try for my achy joints and muscles. I stirred it into boiling water with honey and steamed cashew milk. It was a welcomed alternative to my afternoon mint tea, but unfortunately I never noticed any significant change in the way I felt. After it ran out, I went back to my old routine.

At the bottom of the article there was a recipe for Dandelion Jelly. “Interesting,” I said to myself but left it at that. I’d heard of Dandelion wine, but never thought much about how it was made. The next day while out running errands, I noticed them everywhere; the pretty flowers along bike trails, in my back yard, and covering a full field just outside the city.

“Make us into jelly,” they begged as I lay in bed, awake at three AM. I brought it up to a friend.

“You’re going to go pick weeds? To make into jam?”

“They’re not weeds. They’re pretty, little flowers. They’re the first food for bees too, you know.” I’m not sure when people started to view dandelions as disgusting pests, as if there was a sea of eight legged poisonous creatures scattered upon your front lawn. Get the spray! Kill them! Kill them now! I’d never made jelly before. Why would I choose to make one that I’d never even tried?

Dandelions have never bothered me. Reminding me of sunshine and happiness, what’s there not to like? Kids pick them with such pride, handing them over in appreciation to their moms. I’ve had many bouquets over the years, and appreciated the dandelion ones just as much as orchids or roses.

I guess some people don’t like how quickly dandelions spread. It’s only if they turn to seed, people! Mow your grass BEFORE the dandelions get to that point. I guess my suggestion isn’t as simple as it seems. Everyone wants green carpet front lawns, plush and beautiful…oh, but make sure not to walk on them. Ok, I’m exaggerating here, but you get my point. (And yes, I do know of people who don’t like their front lawns walked on)

Back to dandelion jelly. I knew there was a small window before the flowers would turn to seed or get mowed. I jumped on it.

“Hey babe, will you help me pick dandelions this afternoon to make jelly?” My spouse just smiled a little, knowing this wasn’t the first spur of the moment thing I’d have him do. We strapped our eighteen month old in the car and headed to the field I had seen, only a two days earlier. What a fun Sunday activity! It had been years since grabbing a pail, heading out to collect some of Mother Nature’s goodness that was wild and free. I think the last time was picking blue berries way up north, and there was only enough for a few handfuls. It would have been disappointing had I needed enough for a pie, but I was overjoyed to find them unexpectedly!

The pail we used had previously been filled with 5 kg of honey. Funny, even a little ironic.

I was surprised at how quickly my little guy wanted to help, doing a pretty good job at collecting. Fluffy clouds were above providing a welcomed break from the hot sun. A few cars slowed right down to see what we were up to. It took about two minutes for me to ignore the eyes that I knew were staring at us. “Yes, I’m the crazy witch lady in the ditch picking weeds to throw in my caldron later. Leave me alone or I’ll cast a spell on you.” Just kidding though, I focussed more how much fun I was having.

After twenty minutes, our bucket was overflowing. We headed home with sticky, yellow-stained hands, ready for the next step. (I tackled this one alone) For the next hour, I removed all greenery, or as much as I could. It didn’t take long to realize that of my full pail, only half was going to be used. I did more reading (Google is a great thing!) and found many recipes, so I did a mixture of what was suggested.

I added five cups of water to the four cups of dandelions and let it steep overnight. In the morning I strained it, then followed the next steps. I got six jars of jelly and could barely wait for them to cool before trying it on toast. The colour wasn’t as yellow as pictures I saw, but I don’t believe that affects anything. It’s not surprising how similar the jelly tastes like honey! We’ve already gobbled up two jars and now that I’ve been successful in making jelly for the first time, I’ll have to try other kinds!

And about the health benefits…I think the cup of white sugar per jar probably cancels those out!