A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Friday, July 24, 2009

fireweed jelly



The other day, I made fireweed jelly. Fireweed runs rampant around southcentral Alaska, and we have lots of it on our property. Since last summer, I have wanted to make jelly with it, and I finally got around to it. Ryan and I picked two shopping bags full of fireweed blossom ends, which left no noticeable dent in our fireweed population. Then we picked all the blossoms off the stems:




Then rinsed them, put them in a pot with some water, and heated them until the blossoms lost their color, which only took a few minutes. Then strained the water, which then was actually fireweed juice. The fireweed juice was an ugly light yellowish brown, not at all what I expected.

To the fireweed juice, I added sugar and a little lemon juice. As soon as I added the lemon juice, the mixture turned a beautiful pinkish-purplish color, the color of the blossoms. Very interesting chemical reaction, I thought.

I then brought the mixture to a boil, added pectin, boiled for another minute, and poured into jars. Sealed the jars, and voila! fireweed jelly, 28 1/2 pint jars. This isn't the greatest picture, but the jelly is a beautiful rich clear pink color. And delicious!

I really enjoyed this experiment, because I was able to harvest something that grows wild and abundantly on my property, and turn it into something delicious for my family.

7 comments:

Mom said...

Looks very pretty. As you know, I like salt not sugar. So I picked up 12 small pickling cucumbers for 2 bucks this week. Not free, but close enough. Not worth growing myself.

I made 3 quarts of kosher type pickles. One plain garlic, one garlic and mustard seed, the last garlic and chili pepper. Ah, do we see a pattern here?

Mom

Mom said...

As far as what grows naturally on ones property. I have crab grass, chick weed, forget me knots and violas. I encourage the forget me knots and violas and do my best to kill the other stuff.

Mom again

Meadowlark said...

Dear Mom, please help me make decent pickles. (OK, you're not MY mom, but I'm kinda desperate. My pickles are totally too salty, even following the directions).

Fireweed jelly!!! How many batches did it take to make 28 1/2 cans?

Thanks.

Kiana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kiana said...

You never said whether the fireweed Jelly was GOOD or not. Is it worth the hassle? You sorta have me wanting to try it out now!

(sorry for deleted comment, I can't seem to put together a proper sentence today much less spell.)

Loris Mom said...

Meadowlark:

I start by soaking the cucumbers overnight in salt water. This draws out some of the juice before you put them in the final brine.

You can either cut the cucumbers in about 1 inch slices or use them whole (make sure you get the small pickling cucumbers). Then pack in a jar. I did one jar of whole ones and 2 jars of sliced this year.

Make a brine with 2 quarts of water to 1/2 cup of kosher salt. Bring it to a boil stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar and whatever seasonings you are in the mood for to each jar. Fill each jar all the way to the top with brine, putting a little into each jar at a time.

Loosely cap and let them sit on the counter. They may bubble. If they do, don't worry, they won't explode. This is why you left the caps loose. Once a day tighten the cap long enough to give the jars a good shake then loosen again.

If you don't tighten a cap enough before you shake, first lick the brine off your fingers, then add some boiling water to refill the jar. I did this the other week.

After about 4 days, tighten the caps and store in the refrigerator. They will last at least a year.

Lori's Mom

My tangled path... said...

I have never heard of fireweed jelly! I don't think that grows anywhere around here but we do have an abundance of dandelions for wine, jelly, salads ect....