Fireweed is a "weed" that grows rampant across Alaska (and
Washington). Named because of the abundance of flowers after a forest fire. I don't consider them a weed, but a really vibrant flower that breaks up the brown and green tundra.
People up here use Fireweed as a "summer" gauge. In June, the flowers bloom at the very bottom, in July, they move to the middle, and in August, and early September, they are at the very top, showing that summer is almost over.
Step 1: Gather Flowers
Gather at least 8 cups of Fireweed flowers, careful to pick out any green leaves or stems. (It helps when you have several children. I have a contest every year, and the kid who gets me the most flowers gets free ice cream. Smart, eh!?) Be careful of bees, there always lots of bees in the fireweed patches.
If you're not in Alaska, ANY edible flower will work for this. Try to keep the color the same, though, your jelly will turn out the same color as the petals.
Step 2: Fireweed Flower Tea
In a non-reactive pot, add:
8 cups of fireweed blossoms
1/4 C Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice (or lemon juice from a bottle)
4 1/2 C of water
And bring to a boil.
Step 3: Boil and Strain
Boil the "Fireweed Tea" for 8-10 minutes. The Lemon Juice gives enough acid to remove the color and flavor of the flower, without making the jelly taste like lemons.
Strain the Fireweed Tea into a separate container, and add up to 1/2C water to equal 4 1/2C of Strained Tea. The strained flowers will be gray-ish and the house will smell amazing.
At this point, you could add this to a real "tea" mixture and drink it, or you could let cool and freeze in a ziplock bag until Winter when you don't have anything else to do.
Step 4: Boil, Add Pectin and Sugar
Add TWO packages of Pectin (NOT liquid pectin! I only use the 1.75 oz. package of powdered SURE-JELL pectin) to your fireweed tea, and stir, while bringing back to a boil.
Once boiling, add 1 cup of sugar at a time, to equal 5 cups of sugar. Each time, stirring until dissolved. Bring back to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 min.
Turn off heat, and ladle into clean, sterilized jelly jars. Quickly clean the top, add a new lid, and close the top "finger tight." Place on a cooling rack, and wait for the pop of the tops.
There is no need to water bath this jelly, it is hot enough to seal itself, without worry.
Makes about 8 half-pint jars, and stores for 1-3 years.