Wherever I have lived (if it was a house) there seemed to always be a Lilac Bush nearby. Most were tree like. We had one that was taller than the house, and was covered in white blooms. While we are down to only one here, it is a deep purple lilac. The blooms were late this year due to the cold spring, but are out in force now.
I prefer to pick in early morning, or as the sun is going down. The flowers are in better form, with all their essential oils ready to infuse!
I found a section of cardboard, in our greenhouse, worked well as a prep area. I cut off the woody stems, then stripped the flowers off. Easy work, and I had my compost bin next to me. A few times I had to set a bug outside to freedom.
Now the jelly. Oh, this is the jelly you serve at fancy tea parties. The ladies will love you. Depending on your color of lilac is the color of the jelly. If you have a white or pale pink, it may be a light yellow color. Yes, you can add food dye if you wish. However, I like it the way nature intended.
Also simply delicious paired with savory foods.
- 2 cups tightly packed fresh lilac flowers (stems and leaves removed)
- 2½ cups boiling water
- 2½ cups lilac infusion
- ¼ cup bottled lemon juice
- 1 box powdered pectin
- 4½ cups granulated sugar
Pick lilac flowers in the early morning or late evening. Strip the flowers, removing as much stem and all leaves. Make sure you only use flowers that are untreated, and not from near a road.
Measure and put in a heat safe bowl. Cover with the boiling water, cover bowl and let rest overnight.
Strain, using a jelly bag, gently squeezing to get as much liquid out as you can. Discard flowers in compost pile.
Fill canning pot half full with water, add in 5 8-ounce mason jars. Bring to a boil. Place new lids and rings in a small saucepan, fill with water. Bring to a simmer. Sterilize a soup ladle and canning funnel.
Add lilac infusion (if you are short at all, just use water to make the amount), lemon juice and pectin in a large stainless steel or non-stick stock pot.
Bring to a boil over high, stirring well.
Add in sugar, stirring to dissolve. Bring back to a boil, stirring often. Once at a hard boil, time for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Lay out a clean kitchen towel on counter, drain out the jars and place on towel. Fill each jar to within a ¼” headspace. Wipe the rims with a new, damp paper towel. Place a drained lid on each jar, screw on band. Place jars in canner, lower into water, making sure the jars are covered with water. Return to a boil, let boil with pot lid slightly ajar, for 10 minutes.
Take out jars, place on a clean dry kitchen towel. Let cool, check that all lids are flat (you may hear pings). Use within a year of canning, store opened jars in refrigerator.
Makes about 5 8-ounce jars.