Here in the Ozarks of Missouri, we’re in the throes of seeing splashes of dark pink blossoms everywhere. It’s redbud season, and the trees have been in bloom for a couple of weeks. If you’d like to take advantage of beautiful redbud buds and bring them into your kitchen, now’s the time. In fact, if you want to strip some redbud blossoms and freeze them for later, be our guest. This redbud roundup includes mentions of jelly and shortbread and the pièce de résistance – a yummy redbud pound cake.
After seeing what guest columnist and Wander Woman’s Jessica White did with redbuds to make delectable jelly, I thought I’d try it out for myself. This recipe comes from the blog, RedDirt Chronicles. They lay it all out for you, so if you want the recipe, show them some love and head over to their website.
Meanwhile, you’ll need these things from the store to make your jelly: lemon juice, Sure-Jel powder (pectin), sugar and butter.
You’ll also need to collect three cups of redbud blooms, when they’re fresh. I stripped them right off the delicate branches into a bucket below.
Also, the folks at RedDirt Chronicles remind you that bees love the blooms, too. And, they pointed out the importance of making sure you’re getting the purest buds possible, and don’t strip the buds from a backyard that has been sprayed with pesticides, or from next to a dusty road.
So, this redbud jelly recipe is typical, as far as jelly making goes, but the interesting part is the tea that you make with the buds. You’ll make a tea from steeping the buds. In fact, according to Herbs Natural’s website, “A tea made from the inner bark is highly astringent. Used in the treatment of fevers, diarrhea and dysentery, it is also a folk remedy for leukemia. A cold infusion of the roots and inner bark have been used to treat various chest complaints including whooping cough and congestion.” Don’t go there – sounds a bit like voodoo medicine to me.
The tea you’ll make, though, from the buds needs an overnight stay in the fridge, and the color pales as the pink gets stripped away. Do not worry, the pink magically appears when you add the sugar, lemon juice, butter and powder. According to the bloggers at RedDirt Chronicles, you may use other flowers, such as jasmine, lilac, carnation – and any edible flower, really.
What I did differently, though, is that I processed the jelly in a water bath. Otherwise, you need to store it in the fridge and it won’t keep as long. Check with reputable sites and recipe books on how long to process. I like to use my official Ball canning and preserving book.
And how does it taste? Like spring. Like light lemony flowers. Like I want another slice of toast just so I can have more jelly. You get the picture.
Last year, my four-year-old grandson and I whipped up a batch of redbud shortbread. I could not find a recipe for redbud shortbread cookies, so I just went to my trusted resource, my “Betty Crocker Cookbook,” a gift that my hubs gave me in 1978 (we both benefitted from it, actually, since we both have turned to it throughout our decades of marriage) and found the standard recipe for shortbread. It has three ingredients: flour, butter and sugar. I mean, how can you even go wrong? You can probably get away with using about a cup total of buds in this recipe and it’s oh-so-pretty. Last year, it even made the cut for the dessert table at Easter.
Redbud Pound Cake
This year, I notched it up a level or two, and went for a redbud pound cake. After all, since we salivated over the shortbread, I figured the family would appreciate a cake full of butter, sugar, honey and vanilla – along with cake flour and other things. I found a recipe for honey vanilla poundcake, over at 8ateight. If you want the recipe, jump to it and print it or download it for yourself. It’s a keeper.
The honey comes through boldly in this version, and also, it gets a nice crisp, sweet crust on the top and sides of the loaf. It’s easily sliced and frankly, I wouldn’t put a thing on it. That way, you can have seconds.
What I would do, is increase the amount of redbud blossoms from ¼ cup to … one cup. Yes, go for it. I see that 8ateight blogger added blossoms on top of the cake for serving it, which is perfectly acceptable. And pretty.
This recipe went straight into the three-ring binder “must-keep” for future meals. I believe this pound cake will freeze well. So, move over Sara Lee, there’s a new pound cake coming to the freezer soon. In fact, Sara is looking at serious retirement.
I’m already imagining what I might concoct next year as a budding redbud baker. Or, maybe, we’ll do a syrup? I have some time to cogitate, but in the meantime, I may just head out and strip a few more blossoms before they disappear.