That spring smell: it hits me in the face when I walk out the door as the lilacs, in their various shades of purple and white, are bursting into bloom. Their intoxicating fragrance seems ‘drinkable’ and indeed years ago, while looking into items I could locally forage, I came across a recipe for LILAC JAM. I was not surprised ~ having sampled dandelion wine and burdock tea and several candied flowers. But to preserve the smell of spring – a divine idea!
It is a simple recipe, but one that makes you feel that you should be sipping white zinfandel and eating oven-fresh lemon scones with butter and this delicious lilac jam at the overpriced but completely luxuriant spa in the country. It also is a great recipe to have children of any age pick and clean and lick sticky fingers after making while explaining who food does not all grow in the grocery store but is all around us. Okay – on to the wonder of how to make lilac jelly.
Prep Time: 1-2 hours, 2 days Waterbath Processing – 10 minutes
- 3 cups packed lilac blossoms and buds
- 2 1/2 cups of water
- 3 cups sugar (cane or other)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 box of powdered pectin
The best part of this process is wandering outside into nature and picking the best lilac blossoms you can find. You can nibble on a few. Once inside, strip the greens and sticks off of the lilacs – you need to pluck each little blossom from the head of the lilac. Your fingers get sticky and it is a bit of a long process but it is meditative and after a while you have a bowl of purple heaven!
Next, stuff and pack two cups of blossom into a thick mason jar, boil the water and pour it over the lilacs. Add the vanilla bean and cover with a lid. Let it sit for 24 hours.
Before you are done on the first day – dump the remaining 1 cup of lilac buds into the sugar. Mix and cover until tomorrow.
Pour your lilac sugar through a sieve and shake out the lilac blossoms. Make sure the sugar is pretty clean by fishing out any remaining flowers or buds.
Stain the liquid infusion through a sieve and then through a coffee filter. The remaining liquid should be pink and glorious smelling …. and it only gets better. Place lilac infusion, fresh lemon juice and pectin in a large pot. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Add all of the sugar at once, and stir to dissolve. Bring the jelly back up to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove the jelly from the heat, and skim as much of the foam from the top as possible (quickly) and ladle into hot sterilized jars.
Clean the rims of the jars and screw down the lids to just tight. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes (or according to your elevation – see here). Cool and voila!
Depending on the colour of lilac you have used you will have various colours of jelly to enjoy! Different every time you make it – but the same heavenly taste. Change it up by switching lemon juice to lime or adjusting the sugar to make it sweeter or less sweet.
Suggested Nutritional Values & Great Mineral Bonuses: I am not even sure anyone have calculated the benefits or nutrition of the spring lilac – consider it the same as any sugar based jam and eat it simply as a ‘soul food’