Friday, July 25, 2008

Easy-Peasy Fragrance Flavored Jams and Jellies

I admit it, I'm pretty lazy!
Today I finally got around to sending this message I'd promised to my herb garden volunteers on Tuesday, and the thought occurred to post it here ... two birds with one stone?
So here it is:

Hi everyone,
I looked everywhere for a recipe in a handy file to cut and paste! This is as close as I came to the recipe I used for the Rose Petal Jam you sampled on Monday, from Phyllis V. Shaudys' Herbal Treasures (Storey Books). Phyllis Shaudys attributes the recipe to Euell Gibbons in his classic Stalking the Healthful Herbs.
Remember, the best smelling roses are also the best flavored roses!

Rose Petal Jam
Copied from "eat them roses"

Mother Earth News
March/April 1971

"Roses offer another bonus because besides being beautiful: You can eat them and there are few things more delightfully different—or easier to make—than Rose Petal Jam. Since you do not cook the petals you faithfully capture all the flavor, fragrance and color of the fresh roses . . . and serving this jam has added immeasurably to my reputation as a cook!

"Here's how: Simply take your freshly opened roses—any color—grasp as many petals as you can, hold them between your finger and thumb and snip the white bases (which are bitter) from all of them at once with a pair of scissors.

Blend one cup of petals in a blender with 3/4 cup water and the juice of one lemon. Blend until smooth, gradually adding 2-1/2 cups of sugar and keeping the blender running until all sugar is dissolved. Reserve.

Now stir one package of powdered pectin (Sure-Jel) into 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.

Pour the pectin into the rose-sugar mixture and continue slowly running the blender until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Pour into jars, cool, seal and refrigerate. This may also be frozen and is wonderful on muffins or hot biscuits some cold winter day when the sky is overcast and you are longing for a bit of bright June sunshine."

I like her writing, don't you?
Anyway, finding the Scented Geranium jelly recipe was easier. I hand this one out when I teach a class:

Easy Herb Jellies
(Not Recommended as an activity for children.)

Scented Geranium Jelly
1 18-ounce jar apple jelly
about 2 cups fresh scented geranium leaves

1. Remove lid from jelly jar. Microwave jelly one minute at a time, on High, just to melt , not boil (3-4 minutes total). NOTE: Please be careful, the jelly is hot (!) and the label of the bottle can become loosened, leading to slippage.)

2. Put leaves in 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, reserving the four most decorative leaves for later. Place those four leaves in four small jelly glasses.

3. Pour hot jelly over leaves in measuring cup. Let stand a few minutes to cool, and to infuse the fragrant essential oil into the jelly.

4. When jelly appears to be starting to reset, remove the wilted leaves with a fork. Pour jelly over leaf in each jar, adjusting its position with a toothpick. Cap the jars and refrigerate.

(Note: I recently began to skip heating the jelly in the jar and just melting it right in the measuring cup. Easier. And you can also strain the leaves in step 4 using a messier but quick method of pouring through a metal strainer.)

Lavender Marmalade

Made in a similar fashion, using marmalade and culinary quality lavender buds.
Instead of the double infusion, simply add the melted marmalade to 2-4 teaspoons of lavender buds, and pour into the jars without removing the herbage.

Rose Petal Jelly

Also made in a similar fashion to the scented geranium recipe.
For the best color and taste, use your darkest, most fragrant rose petals.
And for food safety, only use roses you are sure were grown without pesticides.

For rose petal jelly, gather a colander full of rose petals in the morning as soon as the dew is dried.
Pour the hot jelly over 2 cups of petals in the measuring cup, then add more petals. They melt down instantly. When the jelly starts to reset, strain out the petals through a metal sieve. Pour the jelly into jelly jars, cap and refrigerate.

Note: Try your own combinations! I’ve made Lavender jelly with good results, adding a purple blush with the addition of a spoonful of grape jelly. Strain the buds out of that one. Mint makes a nice jelly. But my experiments with Pineapple Sage in grape jelly was not a hit. Be prepared for some comments from the family.

I should add this caveat that I talked about during our conversation: it's great to experiment, but be sure to confirm with a reliable resource that the herb or edible flower you are using in your recipe is, indeed, edible.

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