Friday, July 9, 2010

Fireweed Jelly

After almost a month of non-stop rain we are now in midst of a three day heat wave asking ourselves if it will ever rain again.

I'm happy though. The rain of late spring and early summer has fed the berries to be big and plump. Now the sun of mid-summer will crystallize the sugars and those berries should be juicy, sweet and abundant. I was on the ATV yesterday checking out my local crop of blueberries. Today I will check on the raspberries. I can only hope they will be ready before I leave my post here for hunting camp in northern BC.

Yesterday I made a batch of fireweed jelly and canned 12 jars of the impossibly pink indulgence. My recipe is a bit different than some. I don't like my jelly to be a solid gelatinous blob. I like when it slides over my toast and coats my fruit with its sweet shimmer (re: photo of fruit tart with a coat of fireweed jelly) .

Fireweed is the harbinger of fall in the north. Summer is here when the first buds turn to flower at the midpoint on the fireweed stem and once the last few buds have blossomed at the top of the plant as we prepared for autumn chill.

I like to use as much of the plant as I can. I harvest the fireweed with scissors and a bucket. I like to snip the plant just below the blossoming flowers -- taking with me the flowers and the buds on the top. Taking only a few plants from each patch you can't tell I was ever there. Back in camp, I grab the plant at the base and run my hand up stem taking allowing the petals and stamens and buds and likely a few bugs fall into the bowl. I think that when you use it all you end up with a richer colour and a strong honey-like flavour.

Fireweed Jelly

7 cups of fireweed blossoms and buds
1/4 cup of lemon juice
4 1/2 cups of water

Throw it all into a large pot and bring it to a boil for about 10 minutes. The bright pink petals will lose their colour and the resulting water will be a bright murky fuchsia.

Strain the juice through a sieve and cheese cloth (or paper towel). You can either save the juice in the fridge for a few days until you are ready to can or proceed to the next step. The benefit of chilling the juice for a few days is that the pollen and other things that weren't filtered out initially will stay behind at the bottom of jar you kept in the fridge -- producing a clearer product in the end.

Measure your juice and make sure you have four cups or 1L. You can add water if you need to. Return the juice to a clean pot and bring it to lukewarm. Add a package of Certo Pectin and give it a stir. Bring that to a boil.

Add 5 1/2 cups of white sugar. Give it a stir and then bring that to a hard boil for a minute, or more, if you happen to walk and forget about it like I so often do.

Remove the pot from the heat and skim off the bubbles and any bits of anything that float to the top.

This will make 1.5 litres of jelly.

For canning, I like to preheat my oven to 225F and keep my jars there until I'm ready to use them. I simmer the lids in a shallow pot of water with a pair of metal tongs that I use for lifting them out.

1 comment:

  1. Hi ....:) Nice to meet you. I would love to come up there and wash some bottles with you.
    I very much like your recipe here, as it includes more then just the petals, I never thought of that.