Dandelions have sure gotten a bad rap lately, and many home owners are trying to combat them using pesticides that contaminate our soil and ground water. Nothing found in nature is by accident, and the dandelion is no different. Just think about it’s bright fluffy attractive flower. The dandelion is the very first food for the bees, and comes out before any other flower. Before the bees move on to the fruit blossoms, they strengthen their hives with the healing benefits of the dandelion.
Folks in the past understood the healing benefits of this wonderful “weed”. Dandelions come in spring, gather the heat of the sun, and cleanse the body from the toxins accumulated over winter. They have long been used by Native American, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and many European cultures to cure an array of conditions from upset stomachs to liver disease. The roots, leaves, and blossoms have all been eaten fresh, brewed into teas, and even made into a honey-like syrup. Europeans often add the fresh leaves to salads. They are delicious, and very high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and Calcium.
My children love to run around collecting those fluffy bright flowers, and I hated to see them wasted in a Dixi cup on the counter. I had heard of dandelion jelly, and thought we would try our hand at putting those 222 tiny petals on each of those wonderful spring flowers to work. It has proven to be a cost efficient substitute for raw bee honey. The flavor is a little florally with a semi sweet after taste. It does tend to crystallize, but melts nicely over hot toast or into tea.
3 cups of dandelion heads
3 cups of water
1 tbsp vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans split
Lemon cut into 3-4 thick pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks.
1. Bring to a rolling boil, and simmer 30 minutes.
2. Turn off, and allow to steep 6 hours, or overnight.
3. Strain (using a cheesecloth set in a strainer, over a bowl) until no more liquid is dripping out. I also squeezed any extra out by hand.
4. Return liquid only to the pan, add 4 cups of sugar, and simmer at a low rolling boil for 2-3 hours. Stir ever 20-30 minutes to prevent burning to the bottom.
5. Sterilize jars, and rims, and pour hot jelly into hot jars. Secure lid, and you’re done.
6. Store in a cool dark place for up to a year.
Melissa Souza lives on a 1-acre, organically managed homestead property in rural Washington State where she raises backyard chickens and meat rabbits and grows plums, apples, pears, a variety of berries, and all the produce her family needs. She loves to inspire other families to save money, be together, and take steps toward self-reliance no matter where they live. Connect with her on Facebook.
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