Up North in Inuvik – the spring and summer brings a plethora of wildflowers (to my delight). Little did I know that many of these plants are edible! Slowly I have been learning this through people in town.
Fireweed has been my latest revelation – it grows everywhere up here! There are huge patches in my backyard even. This plant is not only delicious – but nutritious as well. E.g. 1 cup of fireweed leaves chopped = ~100mg of calcium (about 10% daily value) and very good source of manganese (78% daily value).
Photo credit: http://thefoodiearmywife.com
Researching this a bit I discovered a lot of different ideas. Some of the most intriguing ones were:
– Fireweed coconut crème brûlée
– Fireweed ice cubes (freeze a flower in an ice cube for a very pretty addition to a cup of water or sun tea!)
– Fireweed-pepper jelly
I was asked to participate in a cooking class over at one of the local family-child centres. So I jumped at the opportunity to make fireweed jelly. Now – I wouldn’t classify this recipe as “healthy” – but I was excited and eager as it uses a local, wild ingredient, its a unique flavor, and jams and jellies are just used in small amounts anyway. As with most things – use in moderation. Enjoy! The flavour is sure wonderful and unique.
This recipe and photo came from: http://thefoodiearmywife.com/fireweed-jelly-preserving-the-harvest-sundaysupper/ – she has great photos to explain the process as well. Or if you are familiar with jelly making – follow the directions below!
Note: make sure you follow the directions carefully – do not try to reduce the amount of sugar. Sugar is the ingredient that preserves the jelly and prevents it from spoiling. Reduce it and you risk your jelly spoiling or potentially growing some harmful toxins.
8-10 cups of fireweed flowers (do not use flowers that have wilted – they will have a very strong flavour)
8 cups water
4 packages powder pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 cups sugar
1. Sterilize your jars and lids in a large pot of boiling water. (see directions here: http://www.countryliving.com/cooking/about-food/sterilizing-canning-jars). We used 12 half pint jars (250mL).
2. Boil the blossoms and water together in a large sauce pan for 5 minutes. It will look brown and tea-like (later it will be a glorious purple).
3. Strain the liquid through cheese cloth, and add the liquid to a large stock pot (discard the boiled blossoms). Add the pectin and lemon juice, and bring it to a boil, boiling for 1 minute.
4. Add the sugar, stirring continually, and boil for another minute.
5. Ladel the jelly into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space – make sure the sides of the jar and the lip are wiped clean from any splashes. Add the metal lids and screw bands – ensure you do no contaminate the sterilized lids with your fingers.
6. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
7. Carefully remove jars from hot water bath and place on hard surface, away from drafts, where the jars can cool undisturbed for 24 hours. Listen for the “pop” of success! Enjoy.
Has anyone else tried any fireweed recipes?