Lilac Harvest and Jelly

The lilac flower harvest didn’t go over so well last year.  Well…  I guess to be more accurate, the harvest itself went well (how can it not be convenient to have trees growing in two of three neighbours’ yards, with branches growing over the fences and into mine?) but the rust appearance that came while drying them came as both a surprise and a turn-off.  They’ve remained untouched in a jar in the herb kitchen this entire time.

Last week I wondered if jelly could be made with the flowers and how it would taste.  I’ve grown a bit more fond of the aroma since moving here 5 years ago and it would be shame to let them go to waste.  As it usually turns out, someone posted a photo of a batch she had just finished (along with what seemed to be a delicious lilac and wild blueberry cookie with lilac glaze) that afternoon on Facebook.  So it can be done, thank you Universe!

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I followed the recipe and procedure shared by The 3 Foragers (http://the3foragers.blogspot.ca/2011/05/lilac-recipe-lilac-jelly.html):

The jelly was made with lots of flowers removed from their cluster.  We packed them in a glass cup and added boiling water, and let them steep overnight.  The color of the infusion was a greenish-pink, not pretty at all.  As I added the lemon juice, the color changed to an electric pink.  After cooking the jelly and sealing it in the jar, the color faded to a light yellow, almost clear.  The flavor, however, is very floral and sweet. 

Lilac Jelly      makes 8- 4 oz jars

2 c. packed lilac flowers
2 1/2 c. boiling water

1. Pour the boiling water over the lilac flowers, cover and allow to cool.  Allow the infusion to sit 8 hours, or overnight.

2. Strain the flowers from the liquid using a coffee filter, you should have about 2 1/4 c. liquid.
 
2 c. lilac infusion
4 T lemon juice
1 box Sure-Jell powdered pectin
4 c. sugar
 
3. Place the lilac infusion, lemon juice and pectin in a large pot.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
4. Add all of the sugar at once, and stir to dissolve.  Bring the jelly back up to a rolling boil for 1 minute.

5. Remove the jelly from the heat, skim the foam from the top (I got a lot of foam from this recipe) and ladle into hot, sterilized jars.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. 

So that’s what I did!

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I took the photo of the jars and mis-written labels (it should read June 14, 2013, of course) soon after processing them and as the author noted, the colour does fade to more of a pale yellow.

The day I made the batch, I dipped my finger in the larger jar for a taste-test and was disappointed but after testing again just now, I feel that I shouldn’t have given all the 4oz jars away so quickly (ha!)…  The ingredients have synergized quite well over the past few days!  If I remember clearly, and if my sinuses aren’t confused because of a cold, I’d say there’s a hint of pink club soda in there.  A very sweet pink club soda.

Not being as well acquainted with refined sugars these days, I’d like to experiment more with sugar-free pectins, and more specifically, with Pomona’s Universal Pectin.  Is it available for purchase online within Canada, or will I have to import it?

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