By far, this summer was the best jelly experience ever because Laura, Jason, and I took it to a whole new level.
Take a look:
On Saturday, August 3rd, we originally set out on a 15 mile hike to loop Williwaw Lake, but once the weather turned we decided to take advantage of some of the most vibrant fireweed patches I have ever seen.
Jason, Shane, and Laura had fireweed fever and picked a ton. At some point, I knew we were going to have more than we needed, so I sat back and took advantage of some good photo opportunities. In fact, we could have all sat back and watched Jason's Iowa farming efficiency go unmatched by the three of us combined.
The first step is to rinse the flowers and buds of dirt and bugs. We do this by submersing them in water. The dirt and bugs separate from the flowers easily.
To make juice the cooperative extensions office calls for 4 cups of packed flowers to be added to 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Every year, I have always doubled this recipe to yield about 6 half pint jars of jelly. This year, Laura's and Jason's enthusiasm yielded so many flowers that we made 3 1/2 gallons of fireweed juice.
Fireweed Jelly Recipe
2 1⁄2 cups fireweed juice
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon butter, margarine or oil 3 tablespoons powdered pectin
Sterilize canning jars and prepare lids. Combine fireweed juice, lemon juice, pectin and butter, margarine or oil in a large saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sugar and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
To test, drop 1⁄2 teaspoon of jelly on a cold saucer and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes. If the mixture does not set to your satisfaction, add 1⁄2 cup sugar to the jelly in the pot and boil hard for 1 minute. Retest. During the test, the rest of the jelly mixture should be removed from the heat.
When test mixture gels to your satisfaction, ladle jelly into hot jars, add two-piece lids and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.
Yield: 3 cups
There is nothing more reminiscent of summer than opening a jar of Fireweed Jelly in January. The color, flavor, and aroma is the distillation of an Alaskan July.