West Coast Wild Harvest Issue 1 Spring/Summer 2016 - Page 59

RECIPES Method 1 Separate the flowers from the stalks outdoors so you can shake off any critters that came home with them. Discard any brown flowers (I keep the wilted ones that still have colour) and give each stalk a shake to give the bugs a chance to escape. 2 I don’t wash the flowers, but if you choose to, I suggest that you gently rinse them in a bowl of water since some of the flowers will drop off. 3 Strip the flowers and buds from the stalks (a few seed pods is fine) by running the stalk through your fingers, and place them in a measuring cup. You’ll want 2 cups of firmly packed fireweed flowers and buds. My first batch wasn’t quite 2 cups when firmly packed and it was still lovely, so don’t panic if what you collected seems a tad short. The important thing is to use them while they’re fresh. 4 Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a rapid boil and pour it over the 2 cups of firmly packed flowers and buds. Let it cool down, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours (up to 72 hours). 5 Strain the liquid through two layers of cheesecloth in a colander and then pull the corners of the cloth up and twist to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. I like to get all the goodness out! My jelly was still nice and clear. If the water is just a pale violet, don’t despair – you will be pleasantly surprised when you make the jelly! The colour intensifies when you add the lemon (acid) and then again when you add the pectin, resulting in a truly stunning finished product. The more firmly packed the flowers are, the darker the colour and the more distinct the flavour. 6 When you’re ready to make the jelly, combine the liquid with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of powdered pectin, and 1/2 teaspoon of butter or margarine. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute. 7 Add 3 cups of sugar and boil hard for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, scrape off any foam and then pour the hot jelly into hot sterile jars and process with snap lids in boiling water for 5 minutes (this is the water-bath canning method). Note: If you don’t have any canning equipment you can pour the hot jelly into hot sterile jars (to sterilize leave in boiling water for 10 minutes) and seal them up with sterile lids and call it a day. I would recommend that you keep the jars in the fridge, though. I like to know I can safely store my preserves long-term, so I prefer the reassurance that processing gives me. Discovering a jar of something yummy a couple of years later and tasting flavour as fresh as the day it was made is some kind of homesteader magic! SPRING/SUMMER 2016 59