Living Arts Weekly: Wild Jelly

May 16, 2021

Instead of bringing a worn-out human being to a sanitarium, it were far better to bring him into an environment where he would be happy, at first soul-happy, but also physically happy. When you put a human being into an environment of joy, in which with each step he takes an inner feeling of joy awakes, that it is which will make him healthy, when, for example, he sees sunbeams streaming through the trees and perceives the colors and scents of flowers.   -Rudolf Steiner, Illusory Illness: II: the Feverish Pursuit of Health – Munich, 5th December 1907

As I spread a layer of wild violet jelly on my toast this morning, my tastebuds did a little jig of joy from the sweet, floral sensation.  My friend and colleague, Emily, and the families in her parent-child class harvested both dandelions and wild violets for two delicious jellies.  I was lucky enough to receive some of each.

Violets leaves are highly medicinal, with a soothing property. And the jelly is amazing — here’s a recipe.

The dandelion jelly tastes like sunshine in your mouth. I can’t really describe it better than that.  Here’s a recipe that Emily shared earlier this week on our LifeWays Facebook page. As a child, I watched my dad spray the dandelions in our yard with poison every spring.  As an adult, I now know more about this “weed” and I am grateful for its presence.

     Earthworms like the soil around dandelions. It is a neutral humus producer. The dandelion has long tap roots, so it transports minerals upwards from the deeper layers, even from underneath the hardpan in the soil which it penetrates, and deposits them near the surface for use by all the lants growing near it. It heals what the soil has lost through being washed downward. When the dandelion dies, its root channels act like an elevator shaft for earthworms.  As a compost preparation it attracts silicic acid from the atmosphere, and stimulates the potassium, silica, magnesium, and boron, as well as selenium soil activity. It’s also the first food for many of the pollinators, blooming before lots of other flowers are ready.
     Besides making a beautiful and tasty treat, making wild jellies is also a gorgeous science experiment.  Look how stunning these colors are as the flowers steep (the violets turn from blue-green to pink-violet when you add lemon juice.)

With all the flowers that grace us with their beauty in Spring, you can try making jelly with lots of different ones, including honeysuckle, lilacs and kudzu.  Here are some recipes for 16 different wild flower jellies.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy wildflowers?  Share in the comments!

Mary O’Connell, for LifeWays North America

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