Fireweed and Peony Jelly???

This was a summer of firsts for me. I am was determined to make fireweed jelly for the first time. We set out on a beautiful summer day to harvest our first crop of fireweed blossoms. Fireweed is an abundant flower in the area of Alaska we live in so we didn't have to go far. In less than an hour we had what we thought would be....maybe 2 batches of jelly makings.

I had searched high and low for recipes and finally landed on one that I wanted to try. I combined the process of 2 recipes and was on my way to a great tasting jelly I hoped.

First I had to boil down all the blossoms to a "tea". This is a fascinating process. As the water and blossoms boil the color and flavor is transferred to the water. 7 batches of boiling blossoms later I was starring at 5 gallons of fireweed tea! Ohhhhhh what. It only takes 4 cups per batch....YIKES!

Rolled up my sleeves and set out to make the jelly. I made the first batch and I will say I am officially hooked. It is such a beautiful color when it is done. I even researched and processed the jars in a boiling bath to seal them. The taste is a bit tangy and then sweet from the sugar. AMAZING on toast! Then I got the bright idea to add my Montana huckleberries. It took the jelly up a notch and is also great on toast.

The idea of fireweed then moved to peony. We have had a very rainy year here and my peonies had all bloomed and were being destroyed in the rain.....I made them into jelly in the same process as the fireweed. Oh my YUM! It even received a 1st place ribbon at the Kenai Peninsula Fair.

The jelly was the first goal, then I made syrup. That is another wonderful way to enjoy the summer flavor of fireweed.

Next year.......I am thinking I will try spruce tips. The possibilities are endless.

Now its time to go back to ordering hardware and making beautiful handbags.

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