Friday, May 21, 2010

la-la-la... lilac jelly

it will make you sing, too. next year it will, unless you're very lucky. lilac season is over and i feel criminally neglijent posting this now, but i discovered this little miracle very late myself. a facebook friend pointed me to makka's kitchen, and as soon as i read it, i marched in the back yard, just in time to pick the last viable flowers. they were right at the top, and i had to pull at the branches like a savage, much to my daughter's delight. the bush was wet after the rain, but it was all worth it. the never ending plucking of tiny stems. worth it. next year said daughter will be doing the grunt work, nothing like little fingers for this job, if you ask me.

4 cups lilac flowers
3 cups water, boiling
1/2 ts vanilla extract
1 scant tb or 12,5 gr pectin
4 tb lemon juice
1 cup sugar

first take a deep breath and pluck all flowers clean off the stem. they come off easily, but you must be patient because there are so many. absolutely no green parts. reject any blemished or discolored flowers. then put them in a big jar and pour the hot water over them. cover and let it infuse 6 hours.
strain the infusion. press the flowers to be sure you get every drop. discard the flowers. put the infusion in a stainless pot, and add the lemon juice and vanilla. mix the pectin in the sugar and then add this mixture to the infusion, mixing constantly. bring to a rolling boil and cook 2 minutes. turn off the heat. lilac can turn bitter very easily, do not overcook. skim the surface and pour into little jars.
beside those two 8 oz jars i got a bit over 1/3 cup which dissapeared immediately.
this recipe is shown as featured on makka's blog. i had a bit of a problem: the jelly did not jell properly. some take longer than others, so i patiently waited a few days, but there was no improvement. the way to fix a stubborn jelly is this: pour it back in the pan and add 1 1/2 tb sugar per cup of jelly. heat it up. in a small pan mix 1 tb water/cup with 1 ts lemon juice/cup with 1 1/2 ts pectin/cup and bring to boil. pour this mixture in the hot jelly and bring to a rolling boil. cook 30 seconds. remove from heat and pour in clean jars.
even though it's not a big deal to fix, i don't really know why it refused to jell, and i think next year i'll just use the entire packet of pectin to avoid this situation.
as for the taste: if you ever had rose jam, or any flower jam, you know that delicious, incredible perfume they carry. it really does taste as i imagined a thousand times while smelling the flowers. i always thought, oh, if only i could eat them! it's floral, and sweet, with a lemon note at the end. absolutely delectable!
stay tuned for its first application. well, the second, if you count all the buttered lilac toast we've eaten.


  1. I'm going out right now to pick some lilacs! I've never seen this before. I made jelly once from prickly pears and it didn't jell... so disappointing!

  2. Serendipitous again, Dana, we've been making jelly as well! Yours looks beautiful! Jelly is quite hard to make - we usually add homemade pectin - you really need to have the right balance of pectin, acid, sugar and heat for it to work. If anyone of those is out, then no matter what you do, it just won't set! It can be very frustrating!

  3. Makka is one of my favourite bloggers, she's from Hungary, a country I love, I country I spent my teenage in. The colour of this jelly is beeeeaaaautiful!

  4. the colour of jelly is fabulous,dana!have a great week-end!

  5. Wow! What a great idea. The final product looks lovely.

  6. Lilacs are blooming here, this post made it in time :) I'm going to have to find some plentiful bushes and make this! The color is incredible. I love how you describe it 'oh, if only i could eat them! it's floral, and sweet, with a lemon note at the end', PERFECT!

  7. perfect jelly! lilac is new for me.. am sure Zhara would have loved it tasting and helping you as well :)

  8. karen, i really hope you'll try it. it's so good!

    celia, this was my first attempt. because i have no experience with jelly at all, i'm clueless why it didn't jell properly. i love making jams and preserves, but i'm not big on jellies. i mean, i'll never make apple jelly when i can make apple jam. but this was lilac, i adore it, so i had to try. this jelly is a definite keeper, so eventually i'll figure it out :)

    kenny, thanks. i know what you mean about makka, she does have some wonderful recipes. i'm half hungarian, and though i don't speak the language i love the cuisine.

    alison, thank you!

    gemma, thank you!

    andrea, i'm so glad. i've been feeling guilty because lilac is pretty much gone here... i hope you can find it and give it a go! thanks!

    uma, thanks. zhara swooned over this, because her favorite is spongebob, and he regularly eats jellyfish jelly, which is also pink.

  9. première fois que j'entends parler de cette gelée, ça doit être très bon et la couleur est sublime
    bon dimanche

  10. M., merci beaucoup! je suis tres contente de l'avoir decouvert. l'annee prochaine je triple la quantite, c'est tres tres bon.

  11. Dana, some la la la to brighten your day.. :)

    Celia xx

  12. oh, celia, you are so cool! this did make me smile! i'm just discovering all this stuff with my daughter, she's very much into cookie.

    thanks so much!

  13. Una squisita ricetta piena di gioia, e ho soriso con piacere a leggere della piccola doccia di pioggia per raccolgiere i fiori ! :)

  14. Hi Dana,
    I'm really glad that you have liked this jelly so much.
    And you're right, it's not so easy make a jelly. Last year I had got success only with lilac.


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