In keeping with my goal of living simply and sustainably, I decided to have a go at making fireweed jelly. Fireweed grows rampant in Alaska, and I was already in canning mode. Fireweed is aptly named because it grows wonderfully in areas ravaged by forest fires and is often one of the first plants to pop to life.
The first step in making fireweed jelly is collecting your fireweed - we only had to go as far as the backyard! Once we gathered a pile of stems, we went to work pulling off each individual bloom.
You don't want any green (stems or leaves) because your jelly may end up bitter. This was like a never ending game of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. I'll go with He Loves Me, because Karl was a trooper and helped with the whole thing!
Once you've gathered eight cups of blossoms, rinse them really well and boil them with 5 cups of water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice until the blooms lose their color. The water will turn a lovely purple!
Strain through a paper towel and cool to lukewarm. Once you're ready to cook your jelly, combine the fireweed water with two boxes of Sure-Jell pectin and bring to a boil. Then add 5 cups of sugar and bring to a boil again for one minute. Spoon into your jelly jars with 1/4 inch headspace and process in your boiling water bath for ten minutes.
Fireweed jelly tastes a bit like cranberries to me, and is wonderfully sweet, fragrant, and smooth. This batch made eight 8 oz jars, with a bit left over to toss in the fridge for tomorrow! I am looking forward to toast for breakfast!
Recipe courtesy of alaskaoutdoorjournal.com. My recipe included a bit of extra water to make up for what was lost with the paper towels.