The Flip Side
by Flip Putthoff
A highlight of our white bass fishing trip came at the end when Becky Roark surprised us with a jar of her home-made redbud jelly.
Redbud trees are pretty to look at, for sure. Their flowers are the main ingredient in Roark’s redbud jelly. We were tickled that she gave Alan Bland and me each a jar to take home.
First thing I did after cleaning fish was to pop a slice of wheat bread into the toaster. A little butter and a slather of Roark’s jelly had the toast ready to try. Redbud jelly was all new to me. I’d never heard of such a thing. Friends and neighbors, it is delicious.
It’s even better that Roark, of Fayetteville, is happy to share her recipe for redbud jelly with us here today. Here’s the recipe she sent, along with some notes:
We usually gather flowers from one or two branches of several trees so we don’t take too much from any one redbud, since they are pollinators for bees.
Eastern redbud is an Ozark native and a great replacement for those pesky Bradford pear trees. This springtime jelly recipe will be a family favorite for years to come!
We’ve added strawberries to a batch and made strawberry redbud jelly. Yum! You can add lavender, vanilla, and other ingredients, too. We also messed up a batch (didn’t set right) but it turned into some amazing pancake syrup, ha.
You will need:
- 3 cups of redbuds
- 2 cups water, plus a little more
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons Sure Jell powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons butter (optional)
Gather 3 cups of fresh, new redbud blooms. Be careful while gathering. Honeybees like to visit the trees so you’ll have to share with them. Make sure you are gathering from a tree that hasn’t received any over-spray from weed killer or other poison. You don’t want to ingest pesticides.
There is no need to separate the small green bud bases from the flowers. Use the full bud material you pull straight from the tree.
Once in your kitchen, do a quick visual check for any bugs, then place the blooms in a container large enough to hold them and 2 cups of water.
I like to use my Pyrex liquid measure container because it came with a lid that serves as a strainer so as to easily pour out the redbud tea when it’s done steeping.
Heat just slightly over 2 cups water to a boil (the slight overage will accommodate for the steam lost) and then pour the boiling water over the blooms.
You’ll see an immediate change to the color as the hot water begins wicking out the pink right away. Stir your mixture gently, then cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
The following day, pour your redbud tea through a fine strainer. If you’re able, squish the tea from the flowers. You want to save as much liquid as possible.
You may need to pour through a muslin cloth, coffee filter, or jelly bag to ensure that all particulates are filtered out of the liquid. Then, follow these instructions to prepare your jelly for canning.
Heat your redbud tea to boiling. Add lemon juice and Sure Jell and then bring once again to boil.
Add sugar and 1-2 teaspoons butter (optional). Heat to boiling and boil hard for 1 minute. I use a whisk to continually stir mine during this period. It helps keep the foaming down, as does the butter. Fill sterilized jars with the hot liquid and seal. This makes about 3 1/2 half-pints.
It takes about two days for the jelly to fully set and be ready to eat. Just leave the jars on the counter. No need to refrigerate.
Enjoy and happy spring.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org