More Flower Jellies: Borage and Marigold

This is a finale to three-quarters of a year of making jelly from flowers. It started with a lawn full of violets and then dandelions, moved on to Queen Anne’s Lace in high summer, and then to borage flowers harvested at the last minute before a potential frost, and finally to marigold, rescued from under a blanket of snow and ice – shockingly — in October. I’ve been tinkering with these ideas since the spring and am finally getting them to a couple of standard approaches.

 Borage is a lovely herb used for its greens and its flowers. The flowers are absolutely stunning, bright blue five-petal stars. They create a colorful counterpoint to a salad of yellow tomatoes or baby greens. Because of their growing habit, with downward-facing clusters, the first impression of the plant is its drooping, fuzzy leaves, which taste a little like cucumber. Lots of world cuisines use borage leaves, and apart from incorporating them in a pesto of mixed green herbs, I haven’t cooked with them much. But I like to make jelly with the flowers, which are honey-like when tasted raw. This jelly was made by soaking the flower petals (without the green bracts, which slip right off) in boiled water for 15 minutes, draining the liquid, adding sugar, a little lemon juice and pinch of good-quality powdered pectin (like the organic brand called Pomona’s).

 Alternatively, I make jelly with green apples, boiled down – peels and seeds and all – which create natural pectin. A little citrus tends to make the pectin more effective. If I have a seedy lemon, I add the pips to the apple mixture to push the gelling quality a little. For the marigold jelly, I thought that the bright color and slightly pungent flavor of the marigolds would be a good complement to the apple-based jelly.

After digging the marigolds out from the snow, I made jelly two ways: with powdered pectin and with apples. The flowers were great for imparting color to the jellies. The apples dulled the color somewhat but it was still effective.

By the way, there’s some debate about how edible marigolds are. Calendulas, which are often called pot marigolds, are definitely edible. Most sources that question whether the garden variety is edible don’t come to that conclusion because of any poisonous qualities, but rather judge the plants by their pungency, which in the garden, act as a deterrent for vermin and insects.  The petals of my marigolds weren’t as pungent as the leaves, so I decided we could eat them.

 Taste test results: the jelly with powdered pectin allowed the flavor of the marigolds to prevail, clean and clear, and the color was truer to the brightness of the flowers. The other jelly, which was thicker, contained 3-4 times the amount of marigold petals and its flavor was muted by the apples. Interesting.

Flower Jelly

Note that this is a proportional recipe, so you should adjust according to the volume of flower petals that you have.

1c flower petals (see below)

Boiling water to cover (about 1 c)

Sugar (75% of reduced water, about 3/4 c)

1½ tsp 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 petals from their green bracts. Rinse them lightly to remove any dirt and scare off any critters. Pour boiling water over the flowers just to cover. Let steep for 15 minutes. Drain off the liquid, discarding most of the flowers but reserving a few to add to the completed jelly. Measure the liquid and add ¾ of that amount of sugar (3/4 c sugar to 1 c water). Add lemon juice.

Place a saucer in the freezer to test the gel. Bring the mixture to a boil in a wide saucepan and add powdered pectin. Boil until a drop placed on the frozen saucer is wrinkly to the touch, about 6 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 a scant 2 four-ounce jars.

Natural Pectin Marigold-Apple Jelly

3 tart apples, chopped, including skin, cores and seeds

Water (about 2 c)

3/4 c marigold petals (cut from green bracts)

Sugar (75% amount of reduced liquid, about 1 c)

1 tbsp lemon juice

Place the chopped apples in a wide saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Add marigold petals and lower the heat, cooking the apples until very soft. Stir lightly to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, but be careful not to mush them or the jelly will be cloudy. Turn the apple mixture into a muslin jelly bag suspended over a bowl (or into a sieve lined with cheesecloth place over a bowl). Let the mixture drip for several hours or overnight.

If you’re planning on processing the jelly for long-term storage, prepare jars and kettle for water bath canning. Place a saucer in the freezer to test the gel.

Measure the liquid and add ¾ of that amount of sugar (3/4 c sugar to 1 c water). Add lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil in a wide saucepan. Boil until a drop placed on the frozen saucer is wrinkly to the touch, about 6 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 2 four-ounce jars and more for tasting.

Categories: Flowers, Foraging, Preserving, UncategorizedTags: , ,

3 Comments

  1. Larisa

    Hi, looks like a great recipe, trying to make some marigold jelly for Christmas gifts this year. Question though, since I don’t have my own grown flowers I was thinking of getting dried calendula petals….would this still be effective..?

    • That’s an interesting idea. I use calendula flowers in salads, like nasturtium. I bet it will work. Experiment with a small amount before you commit to a batch of presents. You might need to adjust the amount of dried flowers to get them to a point where you’re satisfied with the color and taste. Good luck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s