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Honeysuckle Jelly - How to make and can honeysuckle Jelly

Honeysuckle jelly in jarsHoneysuckle flowersHow to Make Honeysuckle Jelly

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Yes, you really can make a nice tasting jelly from the ripe flowers from wild honeysuckle. And if you remember sucking the nectar from the flowers as a child, that's what the jelly tastes like!
Making and canning your own honeysuckle jelly  is also quite easy. Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated.

For easy other easy, illustrated jam, jelly, and other canning directions, like applesauce or apple butter directions, click on these links.

Ingredients

  • Honeysuckle blossoms - At least 5 cups of honeysuckle blossoms. See step 1 for details.
  • Pectin - 1 and a half packages (box usually) or if you get it in bulk, 6 Tablespoons, see the directions below for specifics - (it's a natural product, made from apples and available at grocery stores (season - spring through late summer) and local "big box" stores. It usually goes for about $2.00 to $2.50 per box. You'll get best results with no-sugar needed pectin, whether you choose to add sugar or not! See here for more information about how to choose the type of pectin to use.
  • Sugar - About 5 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar, if you use the no-sugar-needed pectin (the only type I recommend) or low sugar pectin.  If you use regular pectin, you'll need 7 cups of sugar. Of course, you can substitute honey, agave, stevia or Splenda; just be sure to use the no-sugar needed type of pectin.  See this page for more information about pectin and where to get it.
  • Lemon juice - 1/4 cup, preferably bottled, for the consistency of the pH

Equipment

  • Large spoons and ladles
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the jar grabber.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)- Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!). The kit sold below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:
  • At least 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Teflon lined pots for easy cleanup.
  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.). Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
  • Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $7 per dozen 8 ounce jars including the lids and rings)
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.

Optional stuff:

  • Foley Food Mill ($25) - not necessary; useful to mush up the fruit or if you want to remove seeds (for example, from blackberries) or make applesauce.
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)

Honeysuckle jelly-making Directions

This example shows you how to make honeysuckle jelly. You can use this recipe to make almost any type of jelly from the fruit juice; where there is a difference, I will point it out! The yield from this recipe is about 12 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 6 pints).

Step 1 - Pick the honeysuckle blossoms!Honeysuckle flowers

It's easy to find and pick honeysuckle blossoms. Wild Honeysuckle is a vining weed, the US. It is an annual weed that grows at a phenomenal rate.     I go to any City, State or National park or wildlife area to find it. That way, you don't need to worry about pesticides or contaminants.   Honeysuckle blooms from May through July in most areas.  I find most in June.

You only need the individual flowers, so you simply grasp the purple flow stalk with your hand and gently pull them off. You will need to collect at least 6 cups of flowers to make a batch of jelly.

 

Step 2 - How much fruit?

honeysuckle jelly can ONLY be made in rather small batches - about 6 cups at a time - like the directions on the pectin say, DO NOT increase the recipes or the honeysuckle jelly won't "set" (jell, thicken).

  

 

Step 3 - Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

dishwasher for canning jarsNOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jelly), it's better to sanitize the jars.

Instead of the above, you can also put the jars in the boiling water in the canner for 5 minutes before you fill them - this is the best method!

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jelly.

  

 

Step 4 -Clean and wash the honeysuckle blossoms!

First pick out any brown or dead flowers, bugs, stems and other debris. Then rinse gently under cold water.

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

measure the sugarStep 5 - Measure out the sugar

If you use the regular pectin it takes 7 cups of sugar to 5 or 6  cups of juice and one and a half boxes (5 or 6 Tablespoons) of regular pectin. You can use only 5 cups of sugar if you use the "no-sugar-needed" pectin. . Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of the sugar and keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you'll just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6 - Boil 5 cups of water  and steep the flowers

Now get 5 or 6 cups of water boiling.  Then pour it over the Honeysuckle flowers in either a Pyrex glass container or a Teflon or ceramic lined metal container.  No bare metal!   Now, we let it steep or soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. It helps to periodically stir the mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Step 7 - Strain the steeped "Honeysuckle Tea"Strained honeysuckle tea

Just pour the steep honeysuckle flowers through a strainer, sieve or jelly strainer.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 8 - Put the honeysuckle tea in a large pot, add lemon juice and pectin

Discard the flowers and Put the honeysuckle extract6 or tea in a big pot on the stove. Add the pectin from step 5 (mixed with 1/4 cup of the sugar). Stir well. Now add the 1/4 cup of lemon juice.Lemon Juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 9 - Bring to a full boil

Honeysuckle tea in potHeat the pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning). It should take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away).

Notes about pectin: I usually add about 25% - 30% more pectin (just open another pack and add a little) or else the jelly is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you'll find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like.

Another tip: use the low sugar or no-sugar pectin. It cuts the amount of sugar you need from 7 cups per batch to 4 cups. And it tastes even better! On the other hand; I still add some sugar, even with the No-sugar pectin. With no added sugar, the batches always turned out runny and bland. You might want to try using the low sugar recipe with a mixture of sugar and Stevia (or if you prefer, agave, honey or Splenda); that could work, but you do get the best results with sugar.

Is your jelly too runny? Pectin enables you to turn out perfectly set jelly every time. Made from natural apples, there are also natural no-sugar pectins that allow you to reduce the sugar you add by half or even eliminate sugar.!
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Step 10 - Get the lids warming in hot (but not boiling) water

If you didn't do so already, put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.

 

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Honeysuckle jelly cookingStep 11 - When boiling, add the remaining sugar and bring back to a boil

When the honeysuckle-pectin mix has reached a full boil, add the rest of the sugar (about 4.5 cups of sugar per 5 or 6 cup batch of honeysuckle extract 4 and then bring it back to a boil and then boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly

 

 

  

 

 

Testing for "jell" (thickness)Step 12 - Testing for "jell" (thickness)

I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1/4 to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.

 

 

 

 

 

Filling the jars with honeysuckle jellyStep 13 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jelly off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Do not tightenn hard; just 1/4 turn past when it seats; just snug so they don't leak, Then put them into the boiling water canner!

This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!

  

  

 

Step 14 - Process the jars in the boiling water bathput in the canner

Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 5 minutes, which is what SureJell (the makers of the pectin) recommend.  I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them.  The directions inside every box of pectin will tell you exactly - and see the Table below for altitude differences. The directions on the pectin tend to be pretty conservative.  Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jelly and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1. Recommended process time for honeysuckle jelly in a boiling water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Half-pints
or Pints
5 min 10 15

 

Honeysuckle jelly in jarsStep 15 - Remove and allow the jars to cool - Done!

Lift the jars out of the water with your jar lifter tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last up to 12 months. But after about 6 to 8 months, they get darker in color and start to get runny. They still are safe to eat, but the flavor and texture aren't as good. So eat them in the first 6 months after you prepare them!


Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter - to remove lids from the pot of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid - disposable - you may only use them once
  4. Ring - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel - to fill the jars
Canning tools


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