Fireweed jelly

Photobucket


I name all the flowers I am sure they weren't;
Not fireweed loving where woods have burnt-- Robert Frost 

I love fireweed so much, I have a tattoo of it. Honestly. And I'm considering a bigger one now that I've actually made my first batches of homemade fireweed jelly. I have eaten store bought fireweed jelly before that I bought in Anchorage, and honestly I didn't finish the jar. It was a light pink color, pretty tasteless... It didn't taste like the bright flowery, perfumey, heavenly, flowers at all.

Today I went for a short hike up our road, and I picked 16 cups of blossoms. There are big clumps of fireweed growing where mounds of dirt have been pushed to the side of the road here, from when they were breaking the trail back in here.

Photobucket
what most of the road looks like - further down past our land, it turns into an even smaller trail

So for a couple of hours in the bright sunshine this afternoon, it was just me, the fireweed, and the bumble bees. It was paradise. I shared the blossoms with the bees and didn't pick too many in one place. It was almost completely quiet except for the buzzing all around me and the odd dragonfly passing by who sounded like a helicopter coming in for a landing.

Photobucket
it's a slow process picking the blossoms, which are the only parts you need 


Photobucket
but I started to fill up my bowl


Photobucket
One of the mounds of dirt and gravel covered in fireweed


Photobucket
it isn't just pretty to look at either, it smells wonderful

Photobucket
heading home with my bowl now full of blossoms


Photobucket


To make the jelly, you first pick through and rinse your blossoms. Lots of little bugs came home with me, and they had to go. 


Then you measure your blossoms, you need 8 cups of blossoms for a batch of jelly. You put them in a pot with 4 1/2 cups of water and about 1/4 of a cup of fresh lemon juice. 


Photobucket


Then you boil it for about 10 minutes. Your blossoms will look like this, all cooked down... 


Photobucket


Then you put your strainer over a bowl, and cover it with cheesecloth... 


Photobucket


and strain all the liquid out... 


Photobucket


So you'll just be left with nice clear dark pink juice... 


Photobucket


Then you return the strained juice to a boil... and try to avoid a collision with the Pug who keeps walking underfoot... 


Photobucket

Then you add 2 boxes of powdered pectin to the boiling juice, bring it back to a boil, and then add 5 cups (yes, five) of sugar and keep stirring until you bring the mixture to a boil again. Cook it at a rolling boil for 1 minute and then remove from the heat, and ladle into your sterilized jars. 

Photobucket


And voila! Liquid gold. Well it seems like it. As much as I'm not trying to mention winter right now, I really look forward to breaking open a jar of this in January and spreading it all over hot crepes. I can see my future winter blues disappearing every time I look at one of these jars of jelly.


Photobucket


I had to take the jar outside just to show you the color. Isn't it pretty?


Photobucket


Thank you fireweed! I made two batches today, and Kevin told me I better make a couple more. I'll have to go pick more blossoms! On the way home, Canadian customs surely will think we are smuggling fireweed jelly into Canada for the underground jelly market. 


Photobucket

And as for Douglas... he just wants jelly.

Photobucket

Comments

jaz@octoberfarm said…
how cool! i used to grow fireweed but something killed it. yours looks so good!
poor Douglas, he looks so sad that he didn't get jelly

Beautiful!
Mary Ann said…
Donna, I started out reading this post thinking "whatttttt?????" but that jelly is absolutely beautiful!
LOVE the picture of Douglas! Our pugs can't even go out right now, it's so hot here.
Gemmit said…
Wow! Thank you for the recipe for fireweed jelly. I'm down here in Homer, Alaska and just might have to try it!
Bonita said…
Really appreciate how you've taken your viewer through the steps in making this jelly; I picked my first fireweed, and made 8 half-pints. It is so beautiful - and I too placed my jars in the sunshine, for a good photograph. Beautiful color!

Popular Posts