Dandelion Jelly

I don't spray my lawn.  Do you?  I have chickens and dogs and kiddos that like to play/eat/romp on my lawn so lawn poisons are not my friend.  As a result, my lawn was covered in lovely yellow blossoms on Mother's day.  That's when I remembered that you can "do stuff" with dandelions.  Happy Day.

When I went outside on Monday, ready to pick dandelions by the handful, they had turned to puff balls - only a few spots of sunny yellow left.  Since I had my 3 year old and 1 1/2 year old helpers, and I had told them that we could make jelly out of the flowers, we went on a dandelion quest.  After scouring and picking in some good friends yards we had enough - more than enough - flowers to make a sunny, floral jelly.

Here is what I did.  It made 9 3/4 half-pint jars.

Dandelion Jelly

1 quart of lightly packed fresh dandelion flowers (you will need about 1 gallon of flowers with the bottom green which you will cut off)
2 quarts water
juice and rind of one lemon
1 Tablespoon dried lavender flowers (food quality) - optional
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 cups sugar
2 packages (6 Tablespoons) low-sugar pectin
coffee filters

The first part (after picking the flowers) is the most labor intensive part.  You need to clean each flower.  To do this, grab the petals and cut or pinch (I started out cutting and ended up pinching) the bottom green off of the flower.  The green parts turn bitter if you leave them on.  Trust me.  

A little bit of green is fine.  Keep going until you have about 4 cups of processed flowers. You'll make it, but your fingers will be a little discolored.  Cool.

Using a stainless steep pan, boil the dandelions and the lavender in the 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add the lemon juice and the rinds into the liquid.  Let cool completely.

When the mixture is cooled, strain the mixture through a wire sieve with a coffee filter in it. (I did this part the night before and made the jelly the next morning.)

Prepare your jars, lids and boiling water bath.

Add the flower infusion to a deep jelly kettle.  Add the vanilla and the pectin.  Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. 
 Add the sugar all at once.  Stir to mix well.

While stirring, bring the jelly to a full rolling boil, again.  Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat.

Pour into hot, prepared jelly jars.  Wipe rims and place lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove from water and set on towel covered counter.  Wait for the melodic "pings" of your jars of sunshine sealing.

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