Lavender is a fantastic plant that we (try to) grow in abundance. The bees love it, it produces a lovely aroma and it is also a very useful companion plant for vegetables and fruit trees. The flavour is often very light which makes it the perfect ingredient for ice-cream, sugars and jellies.
After a bit of searching on-line a couple of lavender jelly recipes surfaced, one from Howling Duck Ranch was selected and some flowers were harvested for a trial batch. This being my first foray into jelly making (and only my second proper jam making experience without a jam maker), I decided not to put all of my eggs in one basket.
The first little hurdle was to translate the recipe from American to English. My first idea was to pick a suitably sized cup from the cupboard as that would ensure that the ratios of the ingredients would remain the same. Luckily, I mentioned this to Binty and she came to the rescue with a clever gadget that measures liquid cups and dry cups (American made). First disaster averted!
I translated the recipe to this:
13g dried lavender flowers (I used freshly picked, and stripped them off the stems)
1 litre water
60ml lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
800g sugar (I used caster, though granulated should give a clearer jelly)
50g pectin (I used powder)
The recipe is as follows (pretty much exactly the same as Howling Duck’s, but with a few notes):
- Using a heavy bottomed pan, bring the water to a boil then add the lavender flowers. Stir, turn off the heat and let them steep for 20 minutes, then discard the flowers. (With hindsight, I think I would have increased either the amount of lavender, or the length of time of steeping. If you do this, be aware that it could give a very lavender-y flavour which can become a bit too much for the palette. At this point, I should also mention that not all lavender is suitable for jelly making as the flavours and intensities vary; I would suggest either Hidcote or Munstead.)
- Stir the lemon juice and pectin into the lavender water. (I would very strongly suggest liquid pectin, as my powdered pectin coagulated on the surface and took an age to properly dissolve; I did get some lumps at the top of one of the jelly jars, too.)
- Bring to the boil and add the sugar. As this is brought to the boil it needs to be stirred to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- After 5 minutes, once the jelly has had a good hard boil, pour the jelly into clean jars et voilà, lavender jelly!
As usual, I had a post-jam panic of it not setting, but patience is the key. It can take a long while to set, so leaving it overnight is always a good idea. This morning all of the jelly was set, and two full jars have been sent to family members for testing. If it makes the grade it may well become a favourite. A slight disappointment is the colour; other recipes show pale pink or purple jellies…not orangey brown! This is something to I’ll investigate in the next batch, still it does taste rather nice!