Nothing smells like summer quite like honeysuckle does. The sweet smelling flowers can be found on vines in undisturbed places, usually with children around them eating the honey flavored nectar. Although the rest of the plant is not edible, honeysuckle flowers are edible and using them to make honeysuckle jelly is a great way to preserve summer in a jar.
How to make honeysuckle jelly
To make honeysuckle jelly, you’ll need to gather 4-6 cups of honeysuckle flowers. As any child who spends time at the honeysuckle vine and he’ll tell you that the older flowers, the ones that are turning yellow, have the most flavor. It’s not necessary to only use the yellow flowers, but cull out the flowers that are shriveled and the ones that haven’t opened.
When you pick the flower from the vine, you’ll notice that there’s still some green attached the base of the flower – we call it the green butt. To prepare the flowers you’ll want to either cut off or pinch off the flower’s green butt. Be careful not to remove the stamen! If the stamen comes out, so does the honey nectar.
I don’t wash the flowers but I do shake them a bit, just in case there’s some specks of dirt on them. Then put the flowers in a pitcher or half gallon mason jar. You want something that you can pour boiling water into.
Next, you’ll make a honeysuckle infusion or tea with the flowers and boiling water. To make the infusion, bring 4 1/4 cups water to a boil and then pour it over the flowers. Let the flowers steep for at least two hours. You can let it sit overnight but if you want to leave it longer than that, put it in the refrigerator.
While the flowers are steeping, prepare the jars and lids. To prepare the jars, check for any chips along the rim and wash them in hot soapy water and keep them hot until you fill them with the honeysuckle jam. To prepare the lids, wash them in hot soapy water, there’s no need to keep them hot.
Prepare your water bath canner so you can process the jars of honeysuckle jelly. To prepare the canning pot, fill it halfway with water and bring the water to a boil. At this point, I put the lid on the pot and turn the heat to low so the water stays warm.
I realize that many people don’t water bath canning jelly and jam and just turn the jars over like grandma used to, heck, like I used to when I started canning in the early ’90s. But times change, new research becomes available, and we should change and strive to use recommended practices to ensure that we are safely canning jelly and jam.
Once the flowers have steeped for at least two hours strain them out of the water using a mesh strainer. If you want a super clear honeysuckle jelly use cheesecloth to line the strainer and don’t squeeze or press the flowers.
You need 3 3/4 cups of honeysuckle tea to make this honeysuckle jelly recipe. If you don’t have quite enough tea, you can add a little bit of water to make it. Put the honeysuckle tea into a stock pot and add 1/4 cup lemon juice and 6 tablespoons powdered pectin. If you don’t buy pectin in bulk, use one box of pectin or one packet of liquid pectin.
Bring mixture to a boil and add four cups sugar. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for one minute then remove the pot from the heat. Skim off any foam and ladle the honeysuckle jelly into the prepared jars leaving a 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth. If there’s any jelly on the rim, the jar might not seal properly.
Add the lids and bands to the jars. Put the jars in the water bath canner and process for 10 minutes. After processing, remove the jars and put on a towel on the counter to cool. You’ll hear the lids popping very quickly but leave the jars alone for 24 hours. The next day you can remove the bands, check the seals, and wipe down the jars before storing them.
Tips for making honeysuckle jelly
Making flower jelly can be a bit tricky. In order for jelly to gel, there need to be a balance sugar, acid, pectin, and heat. If you read most jelly recipes they are very exact because of this. Most of my flower jellies turn out on the soft side, which is how we like jelly. This way we can smear it on pancakes or top ice cream with it. It’s hard to do those things with a firm jelly.
This honeysuckle jelly is a soft jelly but should not be syrupy. If you know you like thicker jelly, you can add an additional 3 TBSP of powdered pectin and an additional 1/2 cup sugar when you make the jelly.
If the jelly doesn’t set and the next day you have syrup, you can use it as syrup, which is delicious. Or you can fix it by following the directions in this article from Pick Your Own.
The ONLY edible part of the honeysuckle plant is the flower. If you have a bumper crop of honeysuckle flowers, here are some ideas for using honeysuckle for food and medicine.
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- 4 Cups prepared honeysuckle flowers
- 4 Cups water
- 1/4 Cup lemon juice
- 4 Cups sugar
- 6 Tbsp powdered pectin
- Prepare the flowers by removing the small green part on the end of the bloom without removing the stamen, or else the nectar will me lost.
- Once the flowers are prepared, boil 4 cups water and pour it over the flowers. Be sure to use a heat safe bowl or jar for this.
- Let the flowers steep for at least two hours to make the infusion.
- While the flowers are steeping prepare the canning jars and lids by washing them in hot soapy water. Keep the jars hot until you fill them.
- Prepare the water bath canner by filling it halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Then turn it down to low and put the lid on to keep the water warm until you use it.
- After the flowers have steeped for at least two hours, strain them through a mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
- In a heavy stock pot, combine 3 3/4 cup honeysuckle infusion (if you don't have enough you can add a bit of water), 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 6 Tbsp powdered pectin.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add 4 cups sugar and return to a rolling boil.
- Boil for one minute.
- Remove from heat.
- Fill hot jars with honeysuckle jelly leaving 1/4" headspace.
- Wipe rims with a clean cloth. Put the lids and bands on the jars.
- Put the jars in the water bath canner making sure that the water covers the jar tops by at least 1".
- Bring water to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the canner and set on a towel on the counter to cool.
- The next day, check the seals and wipe the jars before storing.
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Do you make honeysuckle jelly or other honeysuckle recipes? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.