Here in Alaska Fireweed jelly is a seasonal tradition that heralds the second half of summer, coming in the middle of berry season. They’re called Fireweed because they’re one of the first plants to re-establish after a wild fire, and they are very easy to find. Junior and I spent an hour collecting the pretty pink blossoms to make this sweet treat.

Junior deep in the fireweed and bird vetch.
Junior deep in the fireweed and bird vetch.

Fireweed is a northern thing, but you can still make jelly from other flowers. If it smells good and isn’t toxic it’s a good candidate. I’ve seen recipes using violet, lilac, rose petal, Queen Anne’s Lace, milkweed, clover, elderberry, dandelion, carnation, peony, lavender, sunflower, and honeysuckle. You can also make jelly out of herbs like rosemary.

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Wild Alaskan Fireweed Petals

With jellies you really want to find a tested recipe unless you’re very experienced, so I encourage you to search the web. Here’s basic instructions to get you going, from gardenguides.com and cooks.com.

Flower Jelly

Jar full of flower heads
Boiling water
1/2 c lemon juice
Certo or Sure Jell Powdered Pecin (not the sugar-free kind)
3-4 c sugar

Be sure the flowers are edible. Avoid stems and leaves, which will causes bitterness and odd colors. If you’re not sure if the jelly will taste nice, steep some blossoms into tea and sweeten it. If you like the smell and taste, you’ll probably like the jelly.

Collect several cups of blossoms. Boil them in two cups of water until all the color is gone. Strain the liquid and discard the flowers. Add 1/2 c lemon juice and one package of pectin and bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil it hard for 1 minute. Add the sugar and bring it back to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for one or two minutes, according to the pectin instructions for cooked jelly.

Freezer Version: Ladle into hot freezer-safe containers leaving 1/2″ headspace and freeze.

Canned Version: Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Process 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

The result is a sweet, fragrant, colorful reminder of summer that’s great on English muffins and toast.

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Fireweed Jelly. Yes, that’s the natural color!

If you’re interested in Fireweed specifically, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension has an excellent publication.

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