How to Make Dandelion Jam That Tastes Like Honey and Summer Sun
How to make dandelion jam, straight from the keyboard of a Jam Novice.
Unseasonably warm weather stirred a need in me to be among nature. All I wanted to do was frolic in nearby fields, climb trees and just generally be a wood nymph of sorts. Alas, suburban life is generally not conducive to being a wood nymph, but I’m lucky in that one of the largest enclosed green spaces in Europe is just up the road from me. There is also a newly-opened beautiful nature reserve nearby, which is around a 25 minute walk away.
Yesterday I went to the reserve with my family to soak up some sunshine, and when I was there, I made the decision to forage for some nice treats. A quick observation of the reserve lead me to conclude that I would make dandelion jam.
Hello impatient person! If you want to be this happy, scroll down to the dandelion jam recipe below.
I chose to make jam from dandelions because dandelions are so plentiful, and they’re so wonderfully cheerful. I also remembered the first and only time I have tried dandelion jam, and how ridiculously delicious it was. A few years ago on a Tuesday evening I was taking an Urban Herbalism class, and at the very first class I found myself tentatively dipping a tiny spoon into a delightful miniature pot of golden-toned liquid. It was like tasting sunshine.
The rest of that class was spent celebrating the humble dandelion. It contains many properties – the most well-known most likely being its property as a diuretic, hence the charming nickname of “Piss in the Beds”. The flower, to me at least, tastes vaguely of honey, with a hint of meadow green in aftertaste.
They will taste of sunshine you can actually eat.
Considering this was my first time to make jam, I was aware my pursuit would be rather arduous. Initially I had ambitiously set out to make jam solely from dandelions, but soon realised I’d probably have to pick far more dandelions than was ecologically viable. Or than my back and knees would allow. So in the end I decided to make dandelion, apple and pear jam. In my opinion you can still definitely taste the dandelion part, and the addition of the fruit eliminates the need to source sachets of pectin – although I do think it’s definitely a good idea to have jam sugar to hand when making this recipe, just for the little bit of extra pectin to make sure your jam will set.
Make sure you have nice clean jam jars
The jam I made is made in two parts. The first part is the dandelion syrup, and the second part is where you stew the fruit and syrup together, thus creating the jammy goodness.
NOTE: You will need glass jars to put your jam into! Because I am a scatterbrain I only realised this once I had the syrup made, and because I had no old jars lying around, I had to rush out to buy a fancy brand-new airtight jar.
You can use whatever jars you like – just make sure they’re sealable, clean and sterilised. If you are re-using old jars, this is especially important. Wash them out with warm, soapy water, and then scald them using freshly boiled water. If you have purchased new jars, you can probably omit the washing with soapy water part, but still scald them with freshly boiled water.
There are several different ways to clean and sterilise jam jars – just have a look on Google. Whichever technique you use is up to you. Just remember that bacteria and fungi can easily spoil the flavour of your jam. Also remember that you do not need to practice stringent hygiene techniques – any aseptic technique required to sterlise jam jars should be quite straightforward and easy to carry out.
Part 1: How To Make Dandelion Syrup
This kinda goes without saying but when you make jam, you have to boil sugar. Be extremely careful with boiling sugar!
You will need:
- Weighing scales
- Pot with lid
- Stirrer of your choice
- 150g dandelion petals (In other words, a serious load of dandelion heads! I think I picked around 50, but of course this will vary)
- 500g granulated sugar
- 500ml water
- 2-4 tbsp lemon juice, depending on your tastes!
Collect your dandelion petals
Have your bowl and scales ready. Wash the dandelions you picked thoroughly. As you wash them, you can pick the petals from them and wash them more if needs be. Place the petals into the bowl on your scales so you can keep track of the weight as you go along.
Once you have your 150g of petals washed and picked, you can get to making the syrup.
Now you are making actual dandelion syrup.
Place the sugar and water in the pot.
Stir. Bring to the boil, add the petals and then simmer for 20 minutes. Stir. Add the lemon juice then simmer for 2 minutes. Taste the syrup (carefully!) to see if there is enough lemon juice in it. If not, add more and stir. Once you’re satisfied, take the pot off the heat altogether and cover.
Allow the petals to infuse undisturbed for 24 hours.
Part 2: How to Make Dandelion Jam
You will need:
- Large pot and lid
- Potato masher
- Clean, sterilised jars of your choice to put the jam into
- 3 medium pears
- 3 large apples
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 5 tbsp jam sugar
- 200ml water
- Previously-made dandelion syrup
Wash, peel, and chop your fruit into chunks. Place in the pot along with 200ml of water, 1 tbsp of lemon juice and 2 tbsp of jam sugar. Turn the heat up and put the lid on the pot. Make sure to stir the mixture frequently to prevent burning. Add more water if you feel it’s necessary. But don’t add too much – the fruit shouldn’t be covered by the water.
After about 30 minutes the fruit should be getting soft. Keep the heat up and keep stirring it until it is soft enough to mash up with a potato masher. Once it gets to be that soft, turn the heat right down. Mash the fruit entirely with a potato masher.
Now it’s time to add the sunshine. Strain the dandelion syrup through the sieve, pressing it using a spoon if necessary. Add it in to the fruit mixture along with the remaining 3 tbsp of jam sugar. Mix it all up and turn the heat right up, stirring all the time.
Bring the mixture to the boil and boil gently for around 15-20 minutes. You want it to reduce down a little bit. It’s okay if it’s not very thick at this stage, as it will set as it cools down. If you’re worried that it’s very runny, you can add more jam sugar if you like. Or you can stew and add more apples. More apples equals more pectin equals more setting. It’s all up to you!
Once you’re happy with the jam, pour and/or ladle it into your jars. Don’t put hot jam into cold jars. Make the jars hot by scalding them with hot water. Or wait for your jam to cool before putting it into the jars. Basically the temperature to the jam should be near enough to the temperature of the jars.
I know for a fact that there is some way of sealing hot jam in its jar so that a vacuum is created or something, but because I’m a jam noob I was afraid to seal my jar while the jam was still hot. So I left the lid off until it cooled down significantly. This is probably seen as a Jam Faux Pas, but to hell with it. I didn’t want a jar of hot jam exploding in my face. How would I explain that to the paramedics?
Once you have your jam safely in the jar(s), you will find yourself eagerly waiting to see how it sets. Oh, the suspense! Don’t waste your time standing around, though. Set up your Jam Cam to record its progress and go get yourself a cuppa. You know the saying, a watched jam never sets… or something.
Tagged in: Foraging and Bushcraft