Saturday, July 18, 2015

Alaska Fireweed Jelly

Fireweed grows in Alaska, well, like a weed...the blooms begin at the base of the cluster and mature up the stem as the season progresses. Alaskans say that summer has started when the blossoms lowest on the stem bloom, and that summer’s end is in sight when the blossoms reach the top of the stalk. They are a kind of hourglass that marks this beautiful but short season. Fireweed is edible and is high in vitamins A and C. It can be used in salads, for tea, in honey, and of course it makes a wonderful jelly. It's hard to describe, but it tastes like fireweed smells: a gentle, bright perfumey flavor - delicious and addicting!~Patti
8 cups fireweed blossoms
1/4 cup lemon juice
4-1/2 cups water
5 cups sugar
2 packages SureJell pectin

Find a couple of helpers and pick your fireweed blossoms.

Gather the few ingredients you'll need and measure them out so they'll be ready.

Also, start your hot water bath and prepare your jars and lids.

If you're a pro at canning jams and jelly's, that's great. If not, this is an invaluable source for those new to canning...

Rinse blossoms thoroughly, pick out any leaves (they taste bitter) and any other debris or bugs.

Add cleaned blossoms, water and lemon juice to a large pot.
 Boil for 10 minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the juice from the pot. The cheesecloth is important because it catches the teeny tiny debris and you want a pristine, beautiful fireweed juice for the base of your jelly. You should end up with about 3 to 3-1/2 cups of juice.

Add the strained juice to clean pot, along with the pectin. Bring to a boil. Add sugar, bring to a rolling boil and cook for 1 full minute. Stir or whisk the pectin and sugar after adding them so everything incorporates smoothly.

Ladle jelly into the prepared jars, wiping around edges with a damp paper towel to remove any stickiness (you want a good seal on these babies). Put lids on the jars.

 Place jars in pot and bring to a boil; continue to boil for 10 minutes. 
When done, place carefully on a tea towel (a cold countertop can shock, hence the towel) and listen for the 'pop' of the seals forming. There is no sweeter sound in the canning world :) 

Let cool completely. Open one jar for immediate use and store the rest in a cool dry place. These make such a nice gift, especially for friends in the lower 48.

You must always try what you make, so smother some of that fireweed deliciousness on your favorite bread - this is what Alaskan summers taste like!

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