Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
(Dandelion jelly recipe at the bottom of the page.)
If you like quick and easy, you are in luck. You just finished reading this blog post. Move on to something else!
If you are more of a diligent worker, lover of all things tedious and time consuming, bored out of your mind, AND extremely patient, read on!
“Tastes like honey mixed with sunshine and laughter.”
Oh? My interest is peaked. Sounds like something I would love to try.
“Great way to get back to your roots.”
“Use a common yard nuisance to create something fabulous.”
“We made several batches it’s so good!”
Yes. Yes this sounds wonderful. I love all of those things! I will make several batches too!
Have you ever actually wandered around your house picking 10 cups of dandelions? Neither had I. As I started picking, I was writing this post in my head. It went a little something like this:
“You may want to give up but don’t. It will be so worth it! Just think about that when you only have half as many dandelions as you need and you want to quit because your legs just cramped. It will be SO GOOD! Dandelion jelly is a delicacy worth any sacrifice!”
I hadn’t yet tasted this jelly but from everything I had read about it over several years, I felt I knew what I was getting into. Here is what I’m going to write now that I have survived the dandelion jelly making experience:
If at any time during the actual picking dandelions process you think you want to quit, do it. And do it now. If you look at your bowl and go, “But I have more than half the dandelions I need. I can power through,” ignore yourself. Dump those suckers in a garbage or compost and pat yourself on the back for doing a little weeding around the place. Do. Not. Proceed. Picking them is a joyful frolic through the fields of flowers compared to what is coming for you. If you get the whole bowl picked and you’re out of motivation, dump it out and go lay on your couch. Don’t even bring it inside.
Because once you have picked your dandelions, the real work begins. During this process I actually thought, “I would rather be driving a school bus full of screaming kids while listening to saxaphone music.” (Feel free to insert whatever your particular brand of horrendous torture might be.) That is how sucky this part was. Incredibly.
You have to separate the yellow tops of the dandelions from all greenery. Some people say they do this during the picking process but I honestly don’t really know how. Also, it is always windy here and my yellow fluff would blow away. I’m not about to lose one petal if I can help it. Some people cut the tops off and then pick off the green parts. Tried it. Horrible. It worked best for me to just kind of rip the tops out while holding the green bottom with the other hand. My three year old actually asked, “Why you hurting them?” I don’t know Casey. I still don’t know.
“It is a little tedious. Ok, a lot tedious but so worth it!”
That’s the kind of line someone else would tell you. I’m here to give the truth. I love tedious. I can shell peas and snap beans and shuck corn and crack nuts with the best of them. I made an entire wooden sign with a Sharpie and drew an elaborate design on an entire table top with paint pens, after tracing the basic design from a chair cushion! I do Brazilian Embroidery! I get tedious. I love tedious. This is not tedious. This is torture. This is “how could something so soft and cushy make my fingers hurt so bad” kind of torture. This is, “where did 3 hours of my life just go and why isn’t this done yet,” kind of torture. It is NOT tedious. It is painful, in so many ways.
Of course, part of my problem was small sized dandelions. I think if I was working with all big, full dandelions, I may have only hated it with most of my soul instead of all of it.
One lady’s blog said she made a couple batches of this goodness to give away as Christmas gifts. I gave one jar away – to my mother, who carried me in her womb, labored for hours to deliver me, sacrificed her time and energy and life to nurturing and raising me, put up with my antics for years!, and still helps by babysitting my kids and teaching me important mom skills. Anything less than that isn’t ABOUT to get a jar of my dandelion jelly! I hope those people she gave a jar of her dandelion jelly to know how much love was behind that gesture. But they don’t. No one will ever understand what this jelly means until they suffer through the process themselves.
Seriously. I spend 4 hours in picking and plucking these flowers for this jelly.
For reals. My butt hurt. My back hurt – for days. My fingers were raw…and gross looking. I used up all of my children’s naptime and then some! Do you know how much I usually get done during naptime?!
I also ran into an annoyance. Dandelions don’t stay open forever once they are picked. In fact, after about 2 hours, they really don’t even try anymore. If you think plucking these things is annoying when you start, it will only get worse! This is one good reason people pluck in the field instead of how I did it. I also read (afterward unfortunately) of a woman who will do a little at a time and store the petals in the freezer. Now, IF I ever do this again, that will definitely be the way I handle it. Go pick a few, pluck a few, wait a few days, repeat.
You need a total of 4 cups of petals. Luckily, I got (close) enough without doing my full 10 cups of dandelions. Curse picking too many! But it was sure nice to find out that I could stop!
Now it’s easy. Now it’s nice and fun and calm. Now, if you made it to here, there is no reason to back out. Congratulations! You are amazing!!! This is the part where you get to see all your hard, backbreaking, finger sore-ing labor turn into delicious dandelion jelly.
You’re now going to make a dandelion tea or juice or whatever you want to call it. Some recipes said to boil the petals in 8 cups of water for 10 minutes and then steep for an hour or so. Some said to just cover (amount unspecified) in boiling water and let it set overnight. I did a little combo. I boiled in the 8 cups of water and then I let it steep overnight. Mostly because I was so drained I didn’t have the heart to do anything else that day. We even bought dinner that night. Yeah, it was a sucky afternoon.
Side note: This brew will kind of stink. It was like a combination of brussel sprouts and herbal tea. Weird, and it does NOT smell like something you’d like on your next PB&J. Even later. Even when it’s completely done. Even when you first open your first jar of newly made dandelion jelly. It will smell strange. But it will taste better than it smells.
The next morning (or after an hours or so), strain the petals through a coffee filter, jelly bag, random towel (like me) or anything similar that will only let the liquid through. You want pulp free juice for this morning.
I simply spread a towel over top of a large bowl, dump the whole mess in on top, then pick up the towel and let it drip through. You can squeeze it gently if you want but some people are paranoid about clear, beautiful jellies and tell you not to. I just don’t care so I squeeze.
Once the juice is drained, and looking quite putrid, dump it in a very large pot. It will be a gross green color now but will turn a beautiful golden color once it’s done. Some people use food coloring. Unnecessary if you ask me!
You want to make sure there is plenty of room for foaming and boiling in your pot because it will get huge! So use a big one! Add in your pectin and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
Then add in sugar and return to boil.
Let it boil for a minute or two…maybe a little longer, until it forms drips on the edge of your spoon. That means it will set. Fill your jars and process in boiling water bath. If you need instructions on basic canning protocol, check Ball’s website because they can teach you everything you need to know. I won’t even try because this would be a way longer post!
I am going to shamelessly insert in a bunch of affiliate links here for basic canning equipment though. Without this stuff, you will never be able to can. And I’m super frugal and make do without a lot of stuff so trust me when I say these things are the absolute necessities. Plus, if you buy anything through any of these links I get a few measly coins without any added expense to you. I’m such a nice referer.
This is the canner I use for everything. You could look around for different sizes for your personal needs or preference. I use my pressure canner to water bath can without locking the lid on. Yes it drips a little. No I don’t care. Because using it saves me from buying and finding somewhere to store a water bath canner. And it is every bit as effective…except cleaning up a few water drips. You CAN NOT use a water bath canner to can a lot of things. Pretty much anything that doesn’t have a lot of sugar or a lot of acid. Those must all be pressure canned. That’s why I recommend taking the plunge and getting a pressure canner instead of a water bath canner, which is honestly a glorified gigantic pot with a lid and a rack. Even if you haven’t started pressure canning yet, you might one day…and then you’ll have to get a pressure canner and it will compete for space with your water bath canner somewhere in your house. Plus, I pressure can WAY more often than water bath can now that I’ve gotten into it. It isn’t hard at all. Just follow the rules. Like with any canning.
Obviously you will need jars. This is the size I used for the jelly. Jars can be used over and over and most of mine came from my grandma after she used them for 50 years. I have bought a few though, knowing that they will last a long time!
Now I was going to give you links to the jar lifter and the funnel, but it turns out, this whole set is cheaper than buying those two things alone. Plus, it has things I wish I had but do without because they aren’t absolutely necessary, like the metal lid lifter. One of those would be nice. Maybe I’ll have to get this little set of awesome for myself as well!
This is for those of you who already have some jars. Lid always need replacing to make sure you’re getting a good seal. The set of jars I listed earlier comes with lids for their first use but you’ll be needing more (I always am!) so here you go.
And last one. I often use their website but the book is great as well.
I got 6.5 half pint jars from this batch.
Want the very best news? It sure made me feel better. I had enough juice for two batches of jelly!!! Yeah! I got a total of 13, 1/2 pint jars of this delicious dandelion jelly for my work. I would have been epicly disappointed if I had done all of that excruciating work for 6.5!
So, take aways: if you are going to make dandelion jelly, recruit children and neighbors and spouses to pick and pluck. Not optional. DO NOT DO THIS ALONE! Consider doing it over the course of several days. Have immense amounts of patience. And then when you taste this amazing jelly, you won’t hate how delicious it is because you will be able to make it again and again. I think I’ll just have to hoard mine for a few years until the kids get big enough to help me make more.
But seriously, sunshine and laughter and springtime and joy, all in one little bottle. No one was lying about that part.
(Dandelion jelly recipe at the bottom of the page.)