I never thought in a million years I would be writing a post about Queen Ann’s Lace jelly. Yet, incredibly, here I am.
Let me state from the beginning of this post that this is not going to be our typical post. I consider myself a more than competent cook, both on the stove and on the grill. However, I have never made jelly before. To make it even more of a challenge, I wanted to use a wildflower, Queen Ann’s Lace, to make the jelly. What could possibly go wrong, right?
What Is Queen Ann’s Lace?
Wild carrot, commonly known as Queen Ann’s Lace, is a biennial plant that prefers well-drained and disturbed soil. It grows best in full sun but can tolerate shade. It grows a long white taproot similar to its domesticated cousin. The carrots you buy in the store today are ancestors of this wild plant.
Many places in the Ozarks see these plants explode with white, lacy flowers during the early summer. They continue to bloom into late summer. The young taproots are edible, and they smell just like domesticated carrots. As the roots get older they become woody, making them not as palatable. The flowers can also be fried, and in some areas, fried Queen Ann’s Lace flowers are considered a delicacy.
How Did It Get Its Name
Legend has it that the flower was so named because Queen Ann of England was challenged to create lace as beautiful as a flower. Legend has it that Queen Ann pricked her finger, and a single drop of blood dropped and stained the lace. The single purple-red flower at the center is said to represent this drop of blood.
Scientists still debate the purpose of the single dark flower in the middle of the cluster of white flowers that adorn the tops of these plants. Some say its purpose is to mimic an insect already on the plant. Other studies have shown no effect of this single dark flower on the behavior of pollinating insects. Either way, this is one of the things to look for to identify the plant.
Use Extreme Caution
I cannot stress this enough, if you decide you want to make this jelly you must be absolutely sure you can identify this plant. Poison hemlock looks very similar! Yes, the poison hemlock that Socrates was forced to drink in ancient times.
The flowers of Queen Ann’s Lace grow in a cluster and poison hemlock is a loose collection of individual flowering tops. The stem of Queen Ann’s Lace is hairy, while those of poison hemlock and water hemlock are smooth. Poison hemlock also usually has purple blotches on the stem that are not found on Queen Ann’s Lace. But again, this is not something to take lightly. Poison hemlock and water hemlock are extremely toxic. People have made the mistake in identification and have died as a result.
I want to stress that this post is not a guide to identification. If you aren’t sure about your identification you should avoid this plant. I cannot stress this strongly enough.
My First Attempt At Making Queen Ann’s Lace Jelly
Now that we have the cautionary statements out of the way, let’s see how my first attempt at making this jelly turned out. The first step was to gather my supplies. I needed the following:
- A dozen half-pint canning jars with lids
- 2 boxes of powdered pectin
- 7 cups of sugar
- Lemon juice
- A large pot
- A medium saucepan
I gathered all my supplies, and then it was time for me to start making jelly.
The next step in the process was to find a large stand of Queen Ann’s Lace so that I could get about 30 large flowering tops. Always harvest responsibly and never take more wild plants than you need. Leaving a large percentage of plants in the area you harvest from assures that you will have a supply in the future. Respecting the bounty of wild plants Mother Earth supplies for us assures we and future generations will be able to find and use the bounty of amazing plants for food and herbal medicine.
Once I had gathered my flowers it was time to rinse them and place them on a towel to drain and give time for any lingering insects to vacate the flowers before starting to make jelly.
While the flowers were drying I sanitized my jars. To do this I placed the jars in a large pot and completely covered them with water. I brought the water to a boil and let the jars remain in the boiling water for 5 minutes then turned off the heat. You could also run your jars through the dishwasher to sanitize them.
Once this was done it was time to start the process of making the jelly. I placed 7 cups of water in a large saucepan and brought it to a rolling boil. Once the water was boiling I removed from heat and placed the flowers in the water to steep. I covered this and let it steep for 15 minutes.
Once the flowers finished steeping I strained the liquid through a fine mesh coffee filter to remove any solid material from the liquid. I then rinsed the pan and returned 6 cups of the liquid to the saucepan. You’ll notice the liquid has now taken on a beautiful golden color.
I turned the heat back on and stirred in 2 boxes of powdered pectin. After the mixture returned to a boil I stirred in 7 cups of sugar all at one time and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. I used a whisk while stirring to make sure everything dissolved properly. Then I continued to stir as the mixture came back to a rolling boil.
Once boiling I set the timer on my phone for 1 minute. When the timer went off I tested it, and it wasn’t quite to the gelled stage. I gave it about another 20 seconds, and it was gelling. I then removed the mixture from heat and started skimming the white scum that forms on top. I used a spoon to remove this scum by gently skimming the spoon across the top of the mixture until all the white scum was removed.
Now I was ready to add my jelly to my jars. This recipe says it makes about 10 half-pint jars and that is exactly what I came out with. I knew it would be impossible to pour directly from the saucepan into half-pint jars without making a huge mess. Instead, I used a 1 cup measuring cup to dip out the jelly and carefully pour it into the jars. I made sure to leave about 1/4″ of headspace in the jar and then put the lids and bands on finger tight. This recipe has enough acidity due to the lemon juice that I could use the water bath method of canning. I found these rules for safe water bath canning.
I then placed my jars back in the large pot I used for sanitizing the jars. I made sure the water covered the entire jar by at least 1 inch or more. I brought the water back to a rolling boil and set the timer for 10 minutes. After the timer went off I removed the jars using a set of kitchen tongs. There are also special jar tools for this you can purchase if you prefer.
I made sure I had laid a towel down for the jars to sit on as they cooled. This prevents breakage from temperature shock, which can happen when setting the hot jars on a cold counter. Then I simply went about my business until I heard the first lid pop as it sealed. The rest started popping in pretty rapid succession.
I had 2 jars that the indicator in the lid didn’t pop. Those I placed in the refrigerator after they cooled overnight. Those will be eaten first. I placed the rest in the cupboard, so I will have this absolutely delicious jelly for a while.
I must admit I was surprised at how good this jelly turned out for a first attempt. It tastes to me somewhat like honey with lemon. I’m sure I’ll be making more now that my experiment turned out better than I had hoped!
One last time I want to caution that if you cannot positively identify this plant, do not try this without consulting someone who can help you positively identify it. The plants that look similar are extremely toxic and may cause poisoning and death. Don’t take a chance, know your plants!
For more information about other wild medicinal plants and essential oils you can visit our list of articles.
Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as medical advice. The health information in this article is not intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise a cure for any medical condition. Consult with your health care professional before considering any natural supplement or plant remedy for your health and wellness. We assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using manufactured or natural medications.