Foraging and trying new things are activities that I’ve enjoyed since moving to the country nearly fifteen years ago. Spring in the Ozarks is glorious and it’s my favorite time to go exploring around the farm. I’ve written about some of my adventures, and even wrote about foraging for redbuds and phlox several years ago when I wanted to add some to my garden. As a side note, that little redbud that I brought home and transplanted in my front yard, bloomed for the first time this year!
I had heard of redbud jelly before, but after seeing a friend’s pictures on social media of her batch, I couldn’t stop thinking about trying it myself.
One day in the car, I mentioned to my husband, rather out of the blue, that I wanted to try making redbud jelly. About ten minutes later, a friend messaged me, asking if I had ever made redbud jelly. A few days later I was in the car with another friend, and I couldn’t help but laugh when she asked me if I had ever made redbud jelly! It seemed like a sign that it was time!
When the redbuds in my area seemed to be in full bloom, I went on a jaunt around the farm to gather flowers. They grow plentifully in my area, so finding them wasn’t hard. What was hard was finding branches I could reach, but once I did, it didn’t take too long to gather the necessary blossoms.
It was such a beautiful day, so why rush home? So I didn’t. I wandered along one of my favorite spots – a wet-weather creek with a beautiful waterfall.
Once home, a quick search on the internet brought up a plethora of recipes, but they were all pretty much the same – it’s a simple recipe.
If you are new to preserving, I encourage you to refer to more thorough instructions on how to make jelly, but if you already have some know-how, here are the basic directions. This is a small recipe, only yielding about three half-pints.
3 cups redbud blossoms
2+ cups boiling water (add a little extra for steam loss)
2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Sure-Jel powder
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon butter
Several half-pint canning jars and lids sterilized and ready.
Step 1: Gather the redbud blossoms. You’ll need at least 3 cups.
Step 2: Sift through the blossoms and pick out any sticks, bugs, etc, that you don’t want in your jelly. I gathered my blossoms right after a rain, but you might want to rinse yours. (It goes without saying, but don’t gather where they might have been sprayed with insecticides.)
Step 3: Put the flowers into a shatter-proof container. Bring a little more than 2 cups of water to a boil and then pour over the flowers. Cover, and after they cool a little, put them into the refrigerator overnight.
Step 4: The next day, line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour the redbud mixture through it to filter the ”tea.” Gather up the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the fluid. You can repeat that step if it isn’t clear.
Step 5: Pour the redbud water into a non-reactive pot and heat to boiling. Add the lemon juice and Sure-Gel, then bring back to a boil. Add sugar and butter, then boil hard for one minute.
Step 6: Fill the jars and screw lids on snugly. Process in water-bath canner for 10 minutes.
Once I tasted the redbud jelly and knew I’d enjoy it, I had enough to make a second batch. I’ve seen recipes that combine violets with redbuds and that sounds fun, too.
Spring is fleeting, so if you love it like I do, then you, too, might like to save some in a jar.