Redbud blooming season has almost passed in Oklahoma, but the opportunity to make delicate, floral jelly happens every year.
These easy step by step instructions, plus a few common questions and answers should help guide you through the process easily. Once you’re finished, stand back and admire your stock of unique gifts for friends, or delicious wares for your pantry. Happy canning!
RECIPE – REDBUD JELLY
3 cups of redbuds
Approx. 2 cups boiling water
2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Sure-Jel powder
2 cups sugar; 1-2 tsp. butter
1. Gather 3 cups of fresh, new redbud blooms. Be careful while gathering. Honeybees like to visit the trees so you’ll have to share with them. Make sure you are gathering from a tree that hasn’t received any overspray from weed killer or other poison. You don’t want to ingest pesticides. There is NO NEED to separate the small green bud bases from the flowers; use the full bud material you pull straight from the tree.
2. Once in your kitchen, do a quick visual check for any bugs, then place the blooms in a container large enough to hold them and 2 cups of water. I like to use my Pyrex liquid measure container because it came with a lid that serves as a strainer so as to easily pour out the redbud tea when it’s done steeping.
3. Heat just slightly over 2 cups water to a boil (the slight overage will accommodate for the steam lost) and then pour the boiling water over the blooms. You’ll see an immediate change to the color, as the hot water begins wicking out the pink right away. Stir your mixture gently then cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
4. The following day, pour your redbud tea through a fine strainer. If you’re able, smash/squish the tea from the flowers – you want to save as much liquid as possible. You may need to pour through a muslin cloth, coffee filter, or jelly bag to ensure that all particulates are filtered out of the liquid. Then, follow the instructions below to prepare your jelly for canning.
Heat your redbud tea to boiling. Add lemon juice and Sure-Jel and then bring once again to boil. Add sugar and 1-2 tsp. butter, then heat to boiling and boil hard for 1 minute. I use a whisk to continually stir mine during this period; it helps keep the foaming down, as does the butter. Fill sterilized jars and seal. Produces about 3.5 half-pints.
1. Can you double the recipe? Yes. That’s how I make it; the production totals twelve 4oz jars, plus one half-pint.
2. Can you add other flavors to enhance your jelly? Yes. I added one Tablespoon of dried lavender to the blooms prior to adding boiling water. Then, when cooking the jelly, I also added one teaspoon of vanilla. The vanilla rounds out the fragrance of the lavender and I adore the effect. I’ll mostly likely make this my go-to blend. You can also add sage, rosemary, juniper, or other green/bright flavors to enhance your jelly. Just always start with “subtle” and work your way up. You don’t want to ruin a batch because you over-herbed.
3. Which type of redbud trees should I use? You’ll find two types of “pink flowered” redbud trees in Oklahoma. The lighter-pinkish flowers are redbud trees Native to Oklahoma and other areas, such as Texas, Arkansas, etc. However, the brighter pink-magenta ones are actually named “Oklahoma Native Redbuds.” They were discovered in the Arbuckle area, I believe, and are a favorite of arborists because of their deeper colored blooms. You’ll see them planted across the U.S. in friendly climates, and it’s fun to know the “Oklahoma name” is gracing others during this time of year. I suggest using the brightest blooms you can find.
4. Can I use this basic recipe for other “flower” jellies? Yes. You can make dandelion, jasmine, lilac, carnation (Gillyflower) or other edible, fragrant flower jellies. Remember, the lemon juice will most likely be the flavor you taste, and the subtle fragrant flavors will vary by variety.
Conversations about this type of jelly-making can be found on the “Oklahoma Wildcrafting” Facebook page. It’s a closed group, but simply request membership then you’ll have access to information contained therein as long as you follow their guidelines.
~ Red Dirt Kelly