We are in full swing spring here in Kansas, and if you are like me you will see the beautiful mauve-pink blossoms of the redbud tree everywhere you drive. What is even more amazing about this tree, also known as a Judas tree, is the blossoms are edible and make a delicious, and vibrant, jelly. I recently walked Kansas public land properties to turkey hunt and forage, and was able to gather blossoms from a few trees. With this collection of blooms I was ready to try my hand at making homemade redbud jelly.
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The redbud blossoms can be gathered for about two to three weeks every spring. Always pay attention to where you decide to forage. You’ll want to stay clear of busy traffic areas, and be sure that you know if the plants have been sprayed with pesticides or other weed killers. It is also important to never over-harvest from one tree. This allows the plant to thrive, and leaves enough blooms to share with the neighboring honeybees.
These easy step-by-step instructions will help guide you through the process of harvesting, all the way to preserving, your redbuds blossoms. Once finished, you can stand back and admire your wonderfully colorful creation that makes great gifts or brightens up your pantry.
3 cups redbud blossoms
2 cups water
1.75 ounces pectin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon butter
2. Start by laying out the blossoms and search them for any stems, green leaves or visible bugs to discard. These can all make the jelly have a bitter taste. Rinse the blooms carefully to remove any insects or particles you may have missed.
3. Place your cleaned redbud blossoms in a mason jar. Boil the water, and pour into the jar. Push the petals down into the water so they are submerged. I cover the container with the mason jar lid and set aside on the kitchen counter overnight. You will immediately see the hot water take effect, and see your water turn a pinkish color.
4. Once the blossoms have steeped overnight, filter your now purple or pink liquid through a fine strainer into a clean jar or bowl. I had a coffee filter that I also used for extra straining to remove any tiny particles. I smashed the leftover pedals to remove any excess tea so we get as much from the blossoms as possible.
5. Heat your redbud tea to boiling. Add the lemon juice to the boiled tea and add the pectin. Bring the mixture to a boil again. Add sugar and 1 tsp of the butter, then heat to boiling for one minute. During this process you can use a whisk to continually stir the redbud mixture while it heats.
6. You can now add your jelly into your sterilized jars to seal and store. Enjoy!
Editor’s note: If you do not use a canner, then you can store the jelly in jars in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you want to keep it longer, follow directions for a proper water bath canning process. Listen for the tell-tale sealing pop of each lid, and after 24 hours, store in your pantry or cupboard. After opening, store your jelly in the fridge.
Click here to read how to forage, preserve and eat cattails, written by Jessica White.