Foraging the breezy fields for that lacy white flower known as Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as wild carrot, yielded a few jars of pale pink, aromatic and delicious jelly. Pretty and magical. As with the violets and dandelions that I turned into royal fare in the spring, the best time to pick the flowers is in the morning, when they are most aromatic and before the natural oils evaporate (if that’s the right term). This is also true when picking herbs like mint, basil and lemon verbena for making jelly. Taste and smell are so closely related that these delicate concoctions need to capture the maximum flavor. These flower jellies are remarkably less subtle than I would have thought, in either color or taste.
The technique is simple and yields jelly in no time. The flowers are trimmed away from the dropping green bract and steeped in boiling water for 10-15 minutes to extract the flavor. The resulting water is grayish pink. Adding sugar in the ratio of ¾ cup of sugar to every cup of water and a tablespoonful of lemon juice, the mixture is brought to a boil on top of the stove. I add ½ tsp good quality powdered pectin (one of the few recipes where I use it since I prefer to develop it from the ingredients and method) and continue boiling to the gel point, about 10. Ladle into jars and seal. Either process it in a water bath canner or refrigerate it.
Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly
2 c Queen Anne’s lace flowers (see below)
Boiling water to cover (about 2 c)
Sugar (75% of volume of water, about 1 ½ c)
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp powdered pectin (Pomona, Sure-Jell)
If you’re planning on processing the jelly for long term storage, prepare jars and kettle for water bath canning.
Cut the flowers from the bracts and shorten the stems, yielding 2 cups. Rinse them to make sure there are no critters around (ants love these sweet flowers). Pour boiling water over the flowers just to cover (about 2 c). Let steep for 15 minutes. Drain off the liquid, discarding the flowers. Measure the liquid and add ¾ of that amount of sugar (3/4 c sugar to 1 c water). Add 1 tbsp lemon juice.
Place a saucer in the freezer to test the gel. Bring the mixture to a boil in a wide saucepan and add ½ tsp of powdered pectin. Boil until a drop placed on the frozen saucer is wrinkly to the touch, about 10 minutes.
Ladle into hot jars and either store them in the refrigerator after they’ve cooled or process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let sit for 5 minutes before removing to a counter to sit undisturbed until cool.
Makes 3 four-ounce jars plus extra for tasting.