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sprig to twig » Blog Archive » mystery jelly...and other treats

mystery jelly…and other treats

clear, pink jelly

Can you guess the source material for this delicate, clear pink jelly? All will be revealed at the end of this post, but I’ll talk about some other things first, so you can have a chance to ponder. Here’s a hint: nature offers up bounteous supplies of it in late summer, with no help from humans.

harvest time

Finally, the tomatoes are beginning to produce. The new pressure canner got a real workout yesterday: plum jam, pear/apricot conserve, dilled beans and tomato sauce are beginning to pile up in the pantry.

‘Great White’ tomatoes

R always has to try at least one new variety of tomato to go along with the ‘Pineapple’ and the ‘Black Prince’. This year it’s ‘Great White’, which ripens to a mellow yellow and is meaty and delicious. Each mature fruit fills up one’s whole hand.

beans & basil

Note to self: plant more beans! I grew up not liking green beans, because my mom’s cooking method involved large pods spending a long time on the stove with the addition of pork belly. The first time I experienced tiny, tender beans barely blanched and tossed with fresh basil, it was a revelation. One tepee of pole beans is hardly enough to sate my newfound passion.

dilled green beans

Not all recipes handed down from the ‘Betty Crocker School of Homemaking’ have the same connotations. Case in point: a layered salad made up of a layer of drained, pickled beets, a layer of drained pickled green beans, a layer of Best Foods mayonnaise, a layer of chopped green onions and a topping of crumbled hard-cooked eggs. In a glass bowl, it looks quite festive. For several years, It was impossible to find dilled green beans commercially, so last year I decided to make my own. When family members spotted it on the holiday table, a cry of “The Salad!” let me know that I was not the only one who had been missing it. I used some of the leftover brine from earlier pickle making and got the extra beans from the Farmers’ Market.

Queen Anne’s Lace

Time to fess up and reveal the source of the pretty jelly…Queen Anne’s Lace! The recipe showed up in The Oregonian a couple of years ago, and it seemed so strange that I simply had to try it. Start by picking a huge bouquet and settling down at an outdoor table where you can shake each stem vigorously to dislodge the little green spiders living in there. Snip the blossoms close to their stems until you have 2 firmly packed cups. Put them in a bowl and cover with 5 C boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 min. How anyone came up with this recipe is beyond me, because at this point what you will have is a smelly, murky green brew. Strain off the liquid. In a large pot, combine 4 1/2 C of the liquid. Mix 1/4C sugar with 1 pkg SureJell “no sugar needed” and stir in. Bring to a full roiling boil, stir in 3C sugar and boil for another minute. The mixture will magically turn that lovely color. The flavor is as mysterious and delicate as you can imagine…great on homemade bisquits.

12 Responses to “mystery jelly…and other treats”

  1. Shirley Says:

    Impressive harvest. Lightly blanched green beans with fresh herbs are the best. Fresh anything is better than overcooked or frozen versions.

    I never would have guessed the queen anne’s lace jelly. It is a beautiful color.

  2. Grace Says:

    Very interesting. I thought the jelly was made from ‘Fall Gold’ raspberries. I never would have guessed Queen Anne’s Lace but Nature definitely does serve up a bounty of it this time of year–with no help from humankind.

    I too remember grandparents who cooked vegetables to death. It’s a wonder we weren’t malnourished.

  3. James Says:

    I sure didn’t get your quiz right. I was thinking more along the lines of tomato aspic/jelly. (Dunno, might be tasty…) Who’d have thunk that Queen Anne’s lace would be something to turn into jelly?

    Kinduv bittersweet that your tomatoes are finally coming on line, and today’s the last day of summer. Enjoy the harvest. This is what you’ve been waiting for!

  4. Heather Says:

    Growing up we only had frozen green beans which were reconstituted in a saucepan without even the addition of salt or pepper. I’m trying the addition of basil soon.

  5. ricki Says:

    Shirley~Yes…this time of year is a gift.

    Grace~And my guess would have been quince.

    James~It was an especially long wait this year, but now…an avalanche.

    Heather~I still remember my mom’s excitement the first time she tried an herb.

  6. Peter Says:

    Wow, you had me stumped. I thought maybe green goosberries but I don’t think they grow here without help. Queen Anne’s lace - I’ve gotta try it; thanks for the recipe! Glad you’re enjoying your harvest! This is a great time of year - it’s that December - March business that I could live without!

  7. Janet, The Queen of Seaford Says:

    Your garden has produced a great bounty. Glad you are giving green beans another look. My mother used to cook the heck out of all veggies. It is a wonder I ever ate any! Hooray for better cooking practices.
    I have never heard of Queen Ann’s Lace jelly. My sister is allergic to QAL, wonder if she could eat this jelly and build up an immunity…sort of like eating local honey helps with allergies.

  8. Loree /danger garden Says:

    Everything looks and sounds delicious! Especially the beans….

  9. Wendy Says:

    iiinnnnnteresting! I wish I could try that queen anne’s lace jelly!! There’s a field FULL of them and I keep wanting to stop and run through it (but I suspected there were little green spiders or something living in them). I went home with some leftovers from the DC State Fair contests including a pickled purslane stem. I heard it was really good.

  10. ricki Says:

    Peter~I confess to liking the down time for recharging batteries.

    Janet~Guess we all share those memories of overcooked veggies.

    Loree~Thanks

    Wendy~Go ahead and romp through that field. The little green spiders are not at all ferocious. Let us know about the purslane.

  11. Barbarapc Says:

    Holy smokes, I always thought that Queen Anne’s Lace was poisonous - obviously proof is in the jelly that it’s not! Maybe there’s a use for those spiders too?
    B.

  12. ricki Says:

    Barbara~Some of its cousins are indeed poisonous, so if you decide to try this, be careful to start with the real thing. Welcome! I love it when a new voice pops up here.

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