Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fireweed Blooms, just for a season...

blossoms in a bag

In the Arctic, we have beautiful wildflowers, Iris, Daisy, and Fireweed are the most common and brilliant here in Kotzebue.


The deep purple of the iris, and bright pink Fireweed just can't be caught in a gallon of paint at Home Depot, no matter how many times I take photo's of them and bring them in! My walls will remain stark white until then.


Our flowers mark the first signs of spring. We still have snow in a few places, but our flowers will bloom just to make a point to mother nature, that they WILL survive.


I want to be a flower. I want to make garbage and old run down buildings look beautiful. We can look at the wreckage that is a burned down house, walls black with char, insulation and floor beams open to the elements, and think to ourselves, "That is beautiful," thank in large part to the thousand Fireweed that grow around it.


We can complain about the muck and swamp that house and breed the million mosquitoes we encounter each year and sigh, "wow...just look at those Iris!" Forget cow manure, mosquito larvae is the way to go in terms of fertilizer.


The nine full months of ugly that we endure each year is fully paid back by the beauty that is the Tundra, wildflowers, lichen and the sort. Our town is in full bloom right as I write this post, and it is absolutely gorgeous.


Aside from photographing the beauty, there are plenty of other things to do to remember the beauty throughout the winter. Flower Crowns for girls, free fresh flower bouquets for weddings, fresh flowers on your table every day for dinner, and the best one yet, Fireweed Jelly.

adding sugar

Yup, that's what I said. We make jelly out of the fireweed blossoms each year, and IT. IS. GOOD!

full boil

Maddie and her friend enjoyed making a large mess in my otherwise immaculate kitchen (pshyah right!) and I fully enjoyed taking pictures and cleaning their mess afterwards (and licking the pot, spoon and scoop!).

putting in jars

Here is a simple recipe for those of you who have fireweed: (and we're going to try to make some out of other edible Alaskan Flowers too, once we find some!)

closing jars


8 C Fireweed Blossoms
1/4 C fresh squeezed Lemon or Lime juice
4 1/2 C Water
2 pk Powdered Pectin (Like Sure-Jell)
5 C Sugar

jar of jelly

Pick Blossoms off the stem, separate leaves, and wash blossoms. Add to a pot, add citrus juice and water (we find that Lime works best), Boil for 10 full minutes, stirring occasionally. The color will slowly fade from the blossoms, that's what you want! Strain the "juice" into pot (the juice is what you'll use to make the jelly) and add pectin. Bring to full boil, and add sugar one cup at a time, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute after all sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat, place into clean jelly jars. Let sit overnight on a cooling rack. You'll hear the lids "pop" and seal throughout the night. If there are any that don't seal, simply store in refridgerator. Enjoy!

jelly and recipe

Here's to a great fall in the Arctic.


TwoYaks said...

I want to give this a try!
Which blossoms work best for fireweed jelly? New? Developed? Old?
How much jelly does this make?

Anonymous said...

Could you please send me 8 cups of fireweed blossoms, ASAP, please? And thanks!


Finnskimo said...

Hey Coffeedog, send me your address! I'll see what I can do!

Anonymous said...

Oh oh can you mail me a jar?! I would love to try some!!

Anonymous said...

How cool is that.. what does it taste like?? Like a fruit or savory??

Anonymous said...

How many jam jars do you need? I'm guessing 8, which is what I'll try and lay my hands on today!

Anonymous said...

*jelly jars!

jen said...

That's pretty cool! I so want to try this, thanks for sharing your recipe!

Fireweedroots *What is the difference between Jam & Jelly anyways? lol

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Jen, jelly is usually just the juice of the berries, or whatever you have used, squeezed out so that it leaves all the pulp behind and you get a clearer, thinner jelly. Jam uses the skins and just mashes them up, juice skins, everything all together,so jam is thicker, and lumpier, than jelly. Strawberry jam, for example, has lumps of actual strawberries, sometimes even whole ones, in it. Jam is just red and strawberry flavored, but thinner with no texture, smooth. And with fireweed, since you probably don't want to be eating the actual flower petals and all, I would assume that is why it is made into jelly, not jam. Some things work better as jelly, and some you can choose to make jelly OR jam, your choice.
And thus ends my little homesteading lesson!

Lisa said...

Wow, how cool! I never knew you could make jelly out of fireweed. I think my kids and I will be out picking some fireweed tomorrow to give this a shot!

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Thanks so much- I live in Alakanuk and love the fireweed. Been trying to think of something to do with it and so I just googled it, and came up with this- awesome!!

Candy said...

Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! I used to have it years ago,after moving I lost it! Thank you again so much for sharing! The blossoms here are just starting to bloom! I'll make some soon as I can!

Deanna said...

You can also make fireweed honey out of it. I don't know how but I've had friends make it before. Probably something similar to above recipe.

Anonymous said...

Those jars look so beautiful! Would love to try this but think I might need to wait til next year as the fireweed plants are starting to go to seed.

I'm in Ireland and apparently they're called rosebay willowherb here, I have always just called them bogflowers as they grow all over the peat bogs. I didn't realise they weren't a native Irish flower or that they were edible. Thanks for the recipe. Finding your blog fascinating. Lisa :)

Unknown said...

I make a fireweed tea from 2 firm packed cups of blossoms to 2 1/2 cups of water. Boil water and add blossoms. Remove from heat and steep 10 minutes.
From that I use
2 1/2 cups of fireweed tea
2 pkg pectin
1 tbs of lemon juice
a pat of butter.
bring that to a full rolling boil and add 3 cups of sugar. Bring to rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute and volia! Fireweed Jelly!