Here’s a recipe for lilac flavored jelly, so you can enjoy the taste of spring year round. Yield: roughly 32 oz (4 8-ounce jars)
2 C lilac blossoms and buds, tightly packed (See my method here for harvesting, cleaning and picking them)
2½ C boiling water
3 C sugar (or lilac sugar, or a combination of the two)
One box Sure-Jell powdered pectin
Optional: one vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise
The night before, make this lilac infusion: tightly pack two cups of lilac blossoms and stuff them into a thick jar (at least 24 oz). Pour the boiling water over the lilacs. Optional: slice a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and add that to the jar. Cover and let sit overnight.
The next day, pour the infusion through a strainer directly into a medium saucepan. (Reserve the vanilla bean pod for other uses.) You’ll have about 2¼ cups of liquid; add more water if needed. Slice the lemon in half lengthwise and squeeze the juice, also through the strainer, into the saucepan. Add the pectin to the saucepan and stir. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Sterilize the jars by placing them in a separate pot, covering them with water, and bringing the water to a boil. Keep the jars warm/hot until just before using so they won’t crack when the hot jelly is poured in.
Measure all the sugar into a bowl; it needs to be added all at once. (If using lilac sugar for any or all of the sugar, either sift it through a large-mesh sieve to separate the blossoms from the sugar, or just use the sugar containing the blossoms and strain the mixture afterward.)
When the mixture reaches a rolling boil, add all of the sugar at once and stir to dissolve. Return to a rolling boil for one minute, stirring. Remove from heat and quickly skim off as much of the foam as possible. Pour or ladle the jelly into the hot, sterilized jars.
Wipe off the rims and grooves of the jars, place the caps on, and screw down the lids just until tight. Process in a water bath according to the directions on the pectin box.
Recipe adapted from here.
Step by Step Details
Start the process the night before, and make the lilac infusion.
The lilacs will immediately fade when the boiling water is added. That’s okay. Stir things around a bit to distribute the blossoms, which will also make a little more room in the jar if needed.
The next day, pour the infusion directly into a medium saucepan through a strainer. (Reserve the vanilla bean pod for other uses.) Press against the strainer with a spatula to coax more liquid out.
Slice the lemon in half lengthwise – you get more juice this way than if you cut it in half across the middle. Squeeze the juice, also through the strainer, into the infusion. Add the Sure-Jell pectin to the saucepan, stir, and bring to a rolling boil.
Measure out all of the sugar into a bowl. If using lilac sugar for any or all of the sugar (I used a little of each) you can either sift it through a large-mesh sieve to separate the blossoms from the sugar or just use the lilac sugar, blossoms and all, and strain as you fill the jars. Or just leave them in. They won’t hurt anything.
When the mixture reaches a rolling boil, dump in all the sugar at once and stir to dissolve. Return to a rolling boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and quickly skim as much of the foam off the top as possible with a spoon.
Pour or ladle the jelly into the hot, sterilized jars.
Wipe off the rims and grooves of the jars, place the caps on, and screw the lids on tightly. Process in a water bath according to the directions on the pectin box. (Or, if you feel comfortable using this shortcut I learned from an experienced jelly/jam maker, just turn the lidded jars upside down and let sit on the counter for 24 hours. The heat from the jelly will form from seal, and as long as that seal is formed, the jelly will be fine. Do NOT use this shortcut for any other canned things, though.)
The jelly can be used immediately. Try some with lilac muffins. Enjoy!