It is officially spring here in France, with the clear blue sky dotted by white clouds looking like it stepped right out of a postcard. This is also the season for a flower that can be seen in almost every grass fields, flower pots, or even hiding in a corner in front of the gate: dandelions. Maybe for a lot of people, dandelions is just an ordinary kind of flowers, but for me the image of a green grass field dotted with dandelions as bright as the sun is utterly beautiful. It’s the reason why I sometimes just pick some flowers on my way back from doing grocery to put in a small pot like this, even though they would be wilted when night falls, the bright yellow flowers still manage to light up a whole corner of my room.
Recently on a Facebook page about cooking that I join, there is a trend for dandelion jelly. I was really curious when I first saw it, because I’ve never thought that jelly can be made from flower. After some internet research, I found out that it’s a pretty popular thing in the US, and a lot of people go harvest the flowers and turn them into jelly whenever the season comes. Looking at photos after photos of the topaz-coloured jelly jams made me want to just sprint outside, pick up flowers and make myself some, but the fear of flowers growing on the sidewalks or parks getting “marked” by puppies made me hesitated a whole lot.
Luckily I went on the Facebook page of Vietnamese student union in France and met some girls that had the same interest of harvesting flowers and strolling in the forest. So we made a quick plan, and after exploring the forest and talking about anything and everything, I came home with a bagful of dandelions, and after that a jar of jelly was well in my fridge. If you can I really recommend you to make this jelly, the bright sunshine like colour will make your breakfast or the afternoon cup of tea much more pleasant.
Công thức tiếng Việt: Mứt hoa bồ công anh
Preparation time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Cooking time: 1.5 hour
Yields: 300-400ml jelly
- 150g dandelion petals
- 750ml water
- Half an orange, sliced
- 300-400g sugar (according to taste, but don’t reduce too much though, the jelly needs sugar to thicken)
- Juice of a lemon
Note: You should harvest dandelions where you can be sure that there ae not a lot of dogs and cats passing. I collected mine from the outside of a forest.
1. Rinse the dandelions well, discard the green stem, and only keep the yellow flower blossoms.
A lot of pages that I read said that the green parts can make the jelly bitter, but I have a friend who made jelly with the whole flower and it turned out ok, only the colour is a bit more opaque. You can try out on your own. I prefer my jelly to be brighter so I only kept the yellow blossoms.
2. Add water in a saucepan with the flowers and the sliced orange. Bring it to a boil on medium-high heat, then reduce to the lowest heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Most recipes for dandelion jelly use pectin to thicken the jelly. I don’t want to buy pectin because they’re only sold in big boxes, so I simmer the water with orange to extract and use its natural pectin.
3. After the mixture is done simmering, pass it through a sieve and use the back of a spoon to press out all the juice, discard the flowers and orange. Add sugar and lemon juice and return the mixture to the stove, still on low heat, simmer for 30 minutes. The lemon juice is optional, but it will helps brighten the colour and add a slight pleasant zing to the jelly. Check if the jelly is done by putting a few drops onto a spoon and stick it in the freezer for 1-2 minutes, take out to check, and if the consistency is to your liking, turn off the heat.
Remove the jelly from the stove, let it cool for 5 minutes then divide into jars, close tightly and let cool completely at room temperature before putting in the fridge. Dandelion jelly can be stored for 3-4 months.
Making dandelion jelly is not difficult at all, it just takes a bit of time (and to be fair, it’s pretty self-maintenance, you just have to leave the pot on the stove without needing to stir it at all). The jelly has quite the same consistency and taste as honey, and I personally find it to have a somewhat deeper taste, without the sour aftertaste of honey.
Add a spoonful of jelly to your tea or spread it onto a toasted slice of bread, it sure feels like you’re bringing a whole field of sunny brightly yellow flowers into your house.