Amber is an herbalist who lives in western North Carolina, and has been working with herbs for more than 10 years. Be sure to visit her Poppy Swap shop Pixie’s Pocket. It is full of herb-infused raw honey, handcrafted tinctures and wildcrafted native medicinal herbs.
The edges of my yard are a wild fringe of tall grasses, red clover, chicory, burdock, daisies and the bobbing heads of Queen Annes Lace.
I've only recently come to know Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) as an herbal ally, and became intrigued when I learned that a delightful jelly can be made from her flowers! I was even more delighted to find the finished product tastes like a light floral lemonade, or grapefruit juice. It is excellent on a toasted English muffin alongside a cup of tea.
Prepare! You'll likely be competing with many insect friends while gathering these blossoms, so be prepared with gloves or other clothing to protect yourself. You'll need at least 20 flower heads, or at least 2 packed cups of Queen Anne's lace flower heads, so bring a basket, a clean bag or a jar.
Identify! Once you find a good patch of flowers, make sure it is really Queen Anne's lace, and not her cousin, the poisonous water hemlock. Queen Anne's lace has a hairy stem and the distinct, piney scent associated with aromatics in the carrot family. Poison hemlock is smooth and smells awful when you rub its leaves.
The following guide assumes you have some knowledge or experience of canning with a hot water bath method.
1. Rinse Queen Anne's lace flowers really well to ensure that all of the buggies are no longer in residence.
2. Boil 4 cups water in a medium to large pot. While the water heats, trim the stems of the rinsed flowers all the way to the base of the flower head. Breathe in deeply and enjoy. (But don’t worry, the finished product will not be as pungent as the fresh sap smells.)
3. Toss in the flowers when the water is at a boil, stir, cover with a lid and remove from heat.
4. Allow the flowers to steep for as long as you wish. (I leave mine in for over an hour while I have lunch.)
5. Strain the infusion. I find a layer of cheesecloth in a standard colander works well and insures the little bits of petal and insect are all out.
6. Compost the spent flower heads.
7. Sterilize your jars!
I love this simple recipe but to try something new, next time, I may add a couple of pink peppercorns, or perhaps grapefruit, grated carrot or ginger. Recipe adapted from Foraging Foodie and World Carrot Museum.
• 3 cups strained Queen Anne's Lace Flower Infusion
• 3 1/2 cups sugar
• Juice of 1 lemon, or 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
• 1 packet of pectin (I used standard Sure Jell.)
1. Pour the infusion into a medium-sized cooking pot and turn up the stove to a medium-high heat.
2. Add lemon juice and packet of pectin to the pot. Stir the mixture well and often.
3. Pull out your jars, lids and rings to dry.
4. Bring the liquid to a full rolling boil
4. Add the sugar and stir constantly until it returns to a rolling boil. Let it boil for 1 minute and remove from heat.
5. Carefully pour or ladle the very hot jelly into the jars.
6. Wipe the rim with a clean cloth and top each one with a sterilized lid.
7. Process your jars as you wish. I use a hot water bath using the instructions given in the pectin box. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully.
*Note: Let the jelly rest for 24 hours before you pick them up and wiggle them around. After that, enjoy!
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