Friday, May 25, 2012

Obsessions

In a previous life, if there are such things, I'm quite certain I was a butterfly collector.

I have discovered that I pursue unusual foods for canning with the same zeal, nay, obsession, that I imagine nineteenth century entomologists expressed for their quarries.  Once I discover that it is possible to can something, to preserve it in some way, then I must procure it.  It was this way with the paw paws.  The violets and lilacs.  Foraging for a wider variety of foods.  Each time, the internet is my enabler.  I read something on a blog, describing a food I haven't yet tried, or canned, or even considered a food, and off I go.  Obsessed, really.  So is it any surprise that I've been driving around looking for black locust trees, after I found this jelly recipe?

Nope, no surprise to me.  Nor to my husband.  I think he's used to my "quirks."

Mallow peas.  Aren't they cute?
Yesterday I thought I caught a glimpse of some, with reachable blooms, near the house.  Today I walked out to it and, yes, it was a black locust tree.  It was actually four of them, in a row, with just enough blooms within reach for me to make that jelly.  I also stopped by the one and only mallow plant I'd managed to find in all my foraging and grabbed the first few mallow peas.  Those went into a beef stew tonight in an attempt to thicken it.  (We ended up adding flour to thicken it further, as a tablespoon of mallow peas just aren't enough!)

After steeping the locust flowers in boiling water, I drained them and used the liquid to make the jelly.  Repeating it here because then I'll have it in one place:  4 cups flowers, steeped in 3 cups boiling water for at least 8 hours, then drained.  To the liquid add 4 T. strained lemon juice, one box of powdered pectin, and boil.  Add 4 cups sugar, return to a rolling boil for 1 minute and then process in jars for 10 minutes.  I used 4 ounce jars so I can give these as gifts and it made 10 jars and a little extra.

Now that that's out of my system, I wonder what's next?

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