…Actually, it’s not just the Jam Gods. It’s also the Chicken Coop Gods, the Hitting Yourself in the Knee with a Hammer gods, and the Sore Back Gods. I think they are having a good old laugh at my expense.
We got going on the barn at about 6:00 this morning, as we wanted to get things finished up before the chickens arrive…tomorrow. Things went fairly well until about 11:00, when we ran out of nails. It all got pretty frustrating very quickly after that. Hubby moved some straw bales around and was off doing useful things, but my back was too sore to contemplate most of the useful stuff that I could reasonably tackle. With my back being so messed up, I can’t reliably work the clutch in the car, so I couldn’t even drive into town for more nails. It’s probably for the best, as it would be an awful waste to spend $10 in gas to buy $5 in nails.
I was leaning in the doorway of one of the stalls, contemplating the goats’ million dollar view, when I noticed the dandelions getting thick again, even though Hubby just mowed the lawn. in the spirit of good permaculture, I decided to try to make a resource out of something that is otherwise a nuisance.
I wandered inside and googled ‘dandelion recipes’, and came up with some interesting ideas for a batch of wine. Unfortunately, they all seemed to call for about four gallons (!) of dandelion flowers. I decided I had nothing better to do, and at least crawling around on all fours doesn’t aggravate my back. It was interesting getting down there with a bucket – I noticed all sorts of bugs that I would never normally see, as well as really looking closely at dandelions for probably the first time. Once you get past the ‘noxious weed’ mindset, they are actually quite pretty. I was even kind of enjoying myself, but after about two gallons’ worth of dandelion heads picked, the knee I smacked with the hammer earlier (don’t ask) started to protest. I couldn’t keep picking, but I did not want to have wasted all that effort.
I eventually found a recipe for dandelion jelly that looked pretty good, and only used ingredients I happened to have on hand. It was fiddly, as you have to cut the petals off of each flower, enough to make a quart of petals (which takes about two quarts of flowers), but again, I had lots of time. I cut the petals off the couple gallons of flowers I had, and got to work.
The first batch of jelly, I got over-excited, and put the sugar in before the pectin. That one may just be syrup. The second batch, I used low-sugar pectin, because I had run out of the regular stuff, and the whole thing set into a solid mass the second I added the sugar. I am not sure what I did wrong there, as I followed the directions exactly. Panicking, I added more dandelion broth and sugar, but it just turned into a lumpy soup, even after bringing back to a boil. That used up almost all of my dandelion broth, so the planned third batch did not happen. This really sucks, as it actually tastes great, even if neither batch gelled properly. I am already looking forward to having some on pancakes.
So, in case anyone else wants to tempt the Jam Gods, here is the recipe for Dandelion Jelly:
1 quart dandelion petals (takes about 2 quarts of flowers. I just used scissors to cut the petals off)
2 quarts water
Boil these together for about 10 minutes. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth, or a jelly bag. Add the juice of one lemon.
Measure out 3 cups of dandelion juice, and put it back in the pot. Return to heat, and add one box of (regular!) pectin. Following the directions on the package, add 5 cups of sugar (my packet said to add the sugar once the juice has come to a boil, then return to a boil for one full minute before removing from heat). Ladle into pint or half-pint jars, and process for ten minutes.
Hopefully it will work better for you than it did for me, but by all means try it – it really does taste great!