Making Fireweed Syrup
Although this recipe is about fireweed, it may not be available where you live. In that case, you could substitute other edible blossoms such as pansies, violets or hibiscus. (Always make sure a blossom is edible before eating or using it in cooking!)
Step 1 - The hard part
You will need a lot of blossoms, so cut at least a grocery bag full of the tops of the plants. Watch for bees - they love these! Now for the tedious part - pulling off the blossoms. You only want the blossoms; no stems or leaves as they have a bitter taste. You'll most likely want to do this outside because it can get messy, and there will probably be little bugs clinging on.
Step 2: Making the juice
1 1/2 cups of tightly packed fireweed blossoms
2 1/4 cups water
* Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling until the color is gone from the blossoms.
* Use a strainer and cheesecloth to strain the liquid into a bowl. This will separate the plant parts as well as any little bugs still hanging on from the juice.
I was curious as to how the juice would taste at this point. Bitter! I would compare it to unsweetened strong black tea. The final, sweetened syrup tastes not unlike a sweetened herbal tea.
Step 3 - The Fun Part
In the past, I have only made the syrup using sugar. I wanted to try using honey this year. A few of my batches using honey came out a light brown. I'm inclined to believe that was caused not by the honey, since other batches were purple, but to the stamens on the flowers themselves. In one particular area where I gathered, the stamens were full of dark brown pollen which I did not remove. Even so, the syrup was still delicious.
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups fireweed juice
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Put sugar and juice into a medium to large pot and stir. Add 2 T lemon juice. You could decrease the amount of sugar to about 2 cups, or to your liking. Your syrup will then have a thinner consistency.
- Bring mixture to a rolling boil and continue boiling and stirring for 10 minutes. Don't walk away - it may boil over!
- Fill your sterilized jars up to within 1/2 inch of the top. Wipe the rims and sterilized lids dry, place lids on top and tighten with jar rings.
- Turn the jars upside down for 5 minutes and then turn right-side up. This will cause them to seal within a short time. Some people prefer to seal with paraffin or boil in a canner for 10 minutes more but I've never had a problem with them sealing using the upside down method.
1. Put equal amounts of juice and honey into a pot.
2. Bring mixture to a boil and continue boiling and stirring for 10 minutes. Honey will cause the syrup to have a thinner consistency than using sugar. Follow steps 3 and 4 above.
So Many Uses!
You can make Fireweed Jelly the same way, adding Pectin and letting it boil longer, but we seldom eat jelly. Syrup is great for many more things. It is heaven on pancakes or waffles, but what else? How about in milk? - yum! Vanilla ice cream? - yum yum!! What if I added it to the carbonated water I make with our Soda Stream? Take a half liter of carbonated water (or you could use club soda) and add about 1/4 cup of the syrup and gently shake it to mix. What a lovely taste! Just enough flavor to give it a little pizzazz. I'm sure this only cracks the surface of this syrup's potential. Use it as a filling for cakes or chocolates. Drizzle over salmon or ham or fruit salad. Use as a glaze on barbecued ribs or chicken. I'm sure there are many more creative uses for this beautiful and delicious syrup!