Introduction: Color Changing Lilac Jelly
Here in western New York its almost impossible to miss lilac season. For those few short weeks the amazing aroma of lilacs fills the air everywhere you go. When I learned I could make lilac jelly I absolutely had to try it. It's hard to explain the flowery sweet taste of this jelly other that it's simply amazing.
This jelly is not only easy to make, it also has only four basic ingredients. The simple process makes this a great project to do with the kids. The flowers and jelly naturally change colors several times though out the process which they will love to watch. Also switching what color lilacs you use will give you a rainbow of beautiful colored jellies.
Healthy Lilacs (large mixing bowl full)
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 to 8 cups of sugar
2 boxes of powder pectin
Canning jars and lids
Filter or cheese cloth (I personally use a cooking oil filter because they are fairly cheap, sold at most stores and I use them for all my syrup, honey and jelly recipes)
Heavy bottom pots
Step 1: Get Started
Start by finding some lilacs. Don't worry if they don't grow in your yard.. Ask around, most people are willing to part with a handful of blooms in exchange for a jar of this sweet treat.
Collect lilacs. This recipe calls for 4 cups of packed flowers. Well there is no set number of lilac bunches to get, in my experience it tends to take about 6 bunches to get one cup of packed flowers. I take my largest mixing bowl and going around the bush I snip the lilacs a few inches below the flowers. Look for the healthiest flowers, trying to avoid any bunches that have a lot of dry or wilted flowers. Obviously always avoid using any flowers or plants that are sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. Once your bowl is full, head back in for flower removal.
Step 2: Prep the Flowers
With my bowl of lilacs I grab one of my pots and a 1 cup measuring cup. Lilacs are easy to deflower and usually only takes me about 30 mins to do the whole bowl.
Taking one lilac bundle at a time simply grab an individual flower and gently pull it off its stem. Do your best to get only the flower, leaving any green foliage on the stem. I place the flowers in my measuring cup packing as many as I can into it. I then dump that cup of lilacs into my pot and continue collecting the flowers until I have 4 packed cups.
* Don't drive yourself nuts trying to get some perfect amount of flowers. In my experience it usually takes about 6 lilac bundles to get "one packed cup" but I use all the lilacs in my bowl regardless. The more flowers you use the stronger the flower flavor, but there are lots of people who use fewer flowers because they prefer a much more subtle flavor. My suggestion would be to make multiple batches, tweaking the flower amounts to your taste.
Once you have finished removing the flowers set that pan aside and in a separate pot bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Next pour the boiling water over your pot of flowers.
Have the kids help stir the flowers and watch as the flowers and water turn pale blue. Once mixed, place lid on pot and allow to steep for at least 6 hours.
*I usually let mine sit overnight and make the jelly the next morning.
Step 3: Prep for Jelly
*From this point on things can move quickly so I suggest having everything you will need ready and at hand.*
Grab your whisk, large spoon, large heavy bottom pot and filters
-1/2 cup of lemon juice
-8 cups of sugar (as of now I have not made a batch using a sugar substitute, but I have made a batch of dandelion honey using keto friendly sugar for a friend and it did alter the taste. I highly recommend using regular granulated sugar.)
-2 boxes of powder pectin (1.75oz boxes).
**For the jelly to be properly canned you will need a handful of sterile mason jars and lids. Now I made the mistake of asking a friends grandmother for any canning tips while she was around other elderly women and to say the conversation got feisty is an understatement. I personally sterilize my jars in the oven by placing them in the oven at 200 degrees for at least 20 mins. The lids I sterilize in hot but not boiling Water keeping them warm until ready to use. Doing a water bath might be a better option for you.. I am not here to tell you who's grandma has the best method so you can get all info needed from google or check out some of the sterile jars/canning instructables here on the instructables site.
This recipe will give you about 4 pints of jelly but it's always a good idea to have a few extra jars ready incase your batch is a bit bigger.
Start by getting your filter into your large heavy bottom pan.
Pour your lilac water and flowers through the filter, being sure to really ring out all the flowers as they will hold lots of water.
Step 4: Jelly Time!!
Next turn on your stove top to medium. I know it will be temping to turn the heat up to get it to a boil faster but this will boil over very quickly if the temp it too high.
While the water is heating up add your 1/2 cup of lemon juice and two boxes of pectin. Watch as the weird blue color instantly turns to a gorgeous pink/purple. (Your color will be different depending on what color lilacs you use).
Next add the sugar all at once and mix until fully dissolved. Again the color will change as the sugar will lighten it a bit.
As the jelly is warming up it will create a film on the top. Simply scrap it away. It mostly just helps the jelly not boil over.
Don't worry if you can't get all the film out, It looks a bit gross but it's normal to have sugar foam when making any syrup, honey, or jelly. Any foam that makes it into the jars will rise to the top and can be easily scrapped off.
Keep a close eye on your jelly. As you get closer to it's boiling point it can easily boil over. *simply lower the temp a little if you are really struggling to keep the foam down.
Once boiling, allow to boil for 1 to 2 mins and that's it. Turn off stove top.
Using a heat resistant cup carefully pour the hot jelly into your sterile jars. Wipe any jelly off the lip of the jar and place lids on. The jars will get very hot very fast so please use a towel or potholder to tighten your jar lids.
Place your jars aside and allow to cool. The jelly will be runny but will thicken to normal consistency as it cools. The jars will seal as well as the jelly cools off.
If any jar does not seal you can simply reheat the jelly to try again or a simple 10 min water bath can be done.
Once cool, enjoy!! I really wish I could explain how amazing this jelly taste. I personally think it taste a bit like rainbow sherbet ice cream, but others have described it as a flowery fruit punch.. Regardless of how it's described it does not change the fact this jelly is absolutely delicious!
Participated in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest