Tomorrow we head up to Camano Island for the Celtic Prayer retreat. One of our first tasks is getting the weed whacker out to clear the nettles and other weeds that have grown since our last visit, which probably explains why weeds are on my mind this morning. Nettles which grow in abundance on Camano Island, believe it or not are very nutritious (rich in vitamins, flavonoids, serotonin, and histamines) and some like Good Natured Earthling think that they are great protection against allergies. I have not tried her Nettle pesto recipe yet but one of these days hope to and just thinking about this always reminds me that often the “weeds”, those difficult people we want to get rid of, are often the most nutritious elements of the garden – if we give them a chance they nourish and grow all of us in amazing ways.
There are other great ways to eat nettles too. Nettle soup was a common addition to the diet of early Celtic Christians as well as to many others around the world. Once you cook the leaves they lose their sting.
Of course one of the most nutritious weeds in the garden is our friend the dandelion. And they require no care at all. The roots can be used for tea, the leaves for salad and the flowers for jelly. It helps to hold the soil together and to bring nutrients up to the surface from deeper down within the soil. I love the suggestions in this post: 16 Dandelion Recipes that gives some great suggestions. And I was just sent this recipe by Jason Barr for Dandelion Jelly that certain sounds like a winner. Thanks Jason.
4 cups dandelion blossoms
3 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package pectin
1. Pull the yellow blossoms apart from the green parts. Get lots and lots
of blossoms. Make sure there are no green parts since the green parts
have a bitter flavor. (It is ok to have a few green parts but don’t
just put all the blossoms in with the greens attached)
2. Bring the water to a boil and fill the water with dandelion blossom
shreds. Simmer over very gentle heat about 5-8 minutes.
3. Pour the water and blossoms through a strainer. Press the blossoms as dry as possible to extract the maximum amount of water (mom used a coffee strainer, a lined wire strainer works too).
4. If you have more blossoms, add blossoms to the strained water and simmer
5. Continue simmering and straining until all the blossoms are used up.
6. Add more water to bring it back up to 3 cups (the blossoms will takes some and some will go due to evaporation).
7. Combine water with lemon juice, sugar and pectin.
8. Bring to rolling boil and stir until sugar is dissolved (mom added a
little yellow food coloring, not necessary). Boil hard for one minute.
Skim. Pour into 5 hot jars (half-pints) and seal.
9. Boil hard for one minute. Skim. Pour into 5 hot sterilized jars (half-pints) and seal.
Notes:Make the jelly the day you pick or it will start seeding (become
white and fluffy)