Dandelion Jelly

Don’t be scared… it sounds odd, but dandelion jelly has about the same color, texture, and flavor as honey. This is an old pioneer recipe.

Makes 5 – half-pint jars

One quart dandelion blossoms (pick the flower heads only, pack them into a quart canning jar as you pick them)
2 quarts of water
1 package of pectin (such as Sure-Jel Premium Fruit Pectin™)
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablesoon butter

Put the dandelion blossoms in a large pot and add the water. Bring them to a hard, rolling boil, and let them boil for 5 minutes.
Strain the dandelions out of the liquid using a collander or a slotted spoon. Throw out the dandelions, reserve all the liquid. The liquid will be an odd greenish-yellow color, but don’t give up. Pour the liquid through a fine strainer, such as a jelly bag. I pour it through a clean dish towel draped in a pitcher. This gets out all the fine leaves and petals that were left in the liquid after you removed the flowers. What you have when you’re done straining should be a green-yellow liquid with no debris in it.

Prepare your jars by washing them and keeping them warm in a sink full of hot water. Prepare the two-piece caps. Start a large pot of water simmering for a water bath for your jars when they’re full.

Now you’re ready to make the jelly. First, measure out 5 1/2 cups of sugar into a bowl, and set it aside for later.
Measure 4 cups of the dandelion liquid into a large pot. If you use the same pot yoou boiled the dandelions in, make sure to wash it out first! Stir the powdered pectin into the dandelion liquid. Bring to a hard, rolling boil over high heat. Pour the measured sugar slowly into the pot, stirring like mad to get it all mixed in. It is very handly to have a helper while you’re mixing the sugar in, so one person can pour and one person can stir!
Now add the lemon juice and butter. Return the mixture to a boil, and boil hard one minute. Remove from the heat and ladle into a jar, leaving a half-inch of head space. Put the two-piece cap on, and put the jar right into the water bath. There should be enough water to cover the jar lid by an inch.
When all the jars are full and in the water bath, put the lid on the pot and let them boil for 15 minutes. (10 minutes if you’re not at 6,000 feet above sea level like we are.) Remove the jars from the water, and let them sit on a counter for a day, untli they seal and set. This is a soft-set jelly, the consistency of honey.
Try it on fresh biscuits!

Teetotaler Mincemeat

Here is the complete, correct recipe for mincemeat!
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 pound ground pork or beef
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tart apples, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup ground suet* (or shortening)
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound raisins

Mix all ingredients together, bring to boil, and then simmer on low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate.  The flavors “mingle” the longer it sets, so plan to let this to set awhile before using it.  Chapter 20 calls for mincemeat pie, so keep your mincemeat refrigerated and plan to use it when you get to Chapter 20, or freeze it for a later time.   Mincemeat should be checked during storage to prevent dryness.  If it looks dry after it has been stirred, add a peeled, grated apple, or 3 Tablespoons of apple juice concentrate. Refrigerate for use in Chapter 20.

*Suet is the fat from the area around the kidneys of cows and sheep.  Many supermarkets will give you “suet” that really isn’t suet, just fat from other parts of the beast, for feeding birds.  Make sure your butcher knows you’re making mincemeat!  If you feel you just can’t use suet, shortening or butter has a similar melting point, but it will change the flavor and character.