I’m a huge fan of being able to combine form and function in my garden (and life overall). If something can be both attractive and useful, that’s a huge win to me!
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Scented geraniums are a group of plants in the genus Pelargonium, the same grouping as the plants most people associate with the other garden geraniums, zonal geraniums. However, as the name implies, scented geraniums have leaves that are scented. These plants are also edible and impart that same scent in the form of flavor.
There are a variety of types of scents that a scented geranium might have. They range from aromas of fruits, rose, mint, citrus, and spices like cinnamon and cardamon. Though they are all safe to ingest, not all will have the best flavor. I have found that the ones that have “food” type of scents are better. In fact, my favorite of the ones I have is the rose scented geranium! You may not think of roses as food, but they actually make delicious desserts!
Aside from the beautiful aromas these plants have, they are also quite pretty. The flowers are in delicate clusters over thick green leaves, and range from shades of purple-pink, pink, and white. Some can get quite massive, like swallow up entire trees kind of massive, and others stay very petite. So pay close attention to which ones you choose! Thankfully, larger ones can be kept quite tame if potted, while still providing plenty of leaves for making this delightful jelly.
If you have visited my site before, you may have noticed that I’m a bit of a food purist. If there is a way to make something from scratch, I’m all for it. That includes my jams and jellies. While it is definitely possible to make a tasty jelly with added commercial pectin, I far prefer the creations I’ve made using natural sources of pectin, instead. Not only that, but I have found that commercial pectin is often very finicky and doesn’t always set well. My goal is jelly, not syrup!
As it so happens, a great source of natural pectin is apple scraps. The peels and cores of apples contain high amounts of pectin, and using them to make jelly not only gives a great texture it also imparts a hint of apple flavor. Seeing as how these are likely things most people would toss out, this is a great way to reduce waste and save money, too! This way I don’t have to worry about buying pectin and the extra packaging it comes in, I just keep a tub in my freezer to save my scraps until I’m ready to go (check out this link for recipes using apples to help get your stash going!). You can read more about the process here.
Some quick notes before you begin:
If you are not familiar with canning materials and safety, please read my post on canning here. This gives you an introduction into helpful accessories and resources to make the process easier and safer.
I have created a post that gives all the information needed for those of you that may be brand new to making jams and jellies. It also has tips for those of you who may have struggled getting good results in the past. Check that post out here!
As I mentioned earlier, the best flavors for this jelly will come from scented geraniums that have scents associated with foods. Lemon, rose, orange, cinnamon, etc. are all great options. I would advise avoiding the citronella and camphor scented ones as those are rather harsh.
If you don’t have enough apple scraps ready, no worries! Scented geraniums are able to be used year round. They will have more flavor in warmer seasons, but it will still be present at other times of the year. So you can save up peels and cores and then harvest fresh geranium leaves when you have enough.
The best time of day to harvest scented geranium leaves is in the early morning and after having been recently watered. Many of the compounds that provide the flavor tend to dissipate throughout the day, especially if it’s warm. Be sure to harvest from plants that are not being sprayed with any kind of pesticides, or ones that animals may have regularly urinated or defecated on.
Rinse your leaves gently under cold water to avoid bruising. You’ll lose flavor compounds, otherwise. You’ll mash them up later on in the pot to release those compounds.
Trust me on the steps taken to strain out the liquid made for the jelly. By doing it in stages to filter out various sizes of materials, you actually speed up your process and get more of the liquid extracted. It saves a lot of frustration in the end!
You will make this jelly in two stages. They don’t have to be on the same day. Once you make the juice for the jelly, it can be frozen and saved for a later time, if needed.
The recipe is written in such a way that you can customize it to the amount of materials you have, or want to make. However, I strongly recommend that you not process more than 4 to 6 cups of liquid (after adding sugar). Too large of an amount risks boiling over or taking too long to reach the gel point which breaks down the pectin. However, don’t do too little or it may boil down too far before gelling.
Scented Geranium & Apple Jelly (No Added Pectin) Recipe
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For each pound of apple scraps you have, you will need the following amounts:
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup packed scented geranium leaves
For every cup of juice made from the above ingredients, you will need the following amounts:
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
In a large stockpot combine the apple scraps, and needed amounts of water and geranium leaves. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot. Simmer until the apple scraps are mushy.
Once the apple scraps have softened, turn off the heat and mash everything using a potato masher. This will help to extract out all the juice and flavor. Allow the mixture to cool in the covered pot until it can be comfortably handled.
You will need to strain out as much of the solids as possible for a good jelly. Straining in stages helps to speed up the overall process greatly, rather than trying to do it all at once. Trust me on this!!
First, pour the mixture into a colander. This will help to remove the larger materials. Push against the apple mash with a spoon to help extract out as much liquid as possible. Then pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. This will help remove more of the solids, however, there will still be a lot of particles needing to be removed in order to have a clearer and cleaner (and better tasting) jelly. For the last step, line a strainer with a lightly dampened tea-towel type of cloth (like muslin) and pour the liquid through. It may help to gather the cloth by the corners and suspend it from something over a bowl or pitcher.
Once you are ready to make the jelly with the liquid you collected, be sure to have all your other canning materials ready to go. All the apple material you strained out is perfect for the compost pile or can even go out into the garden directly to feed your plants!
Measure out your pectin liquid and add the amount of sugar and lemon juice needed. Place no more than 6 cups into a large stockpot fitted with a thermometer. Bring the liquid up to 10 F higher than the boiling point of water at your elevation. For me, water boils at 212 F, so I bring the jelly up to 222 F. Once the gel point has been reached, immediately remove the pot from the stove and carefully ladle into hot, clean jars. I fill and close one jar at a time, then flip the jar over to heat the lid. Once all the jars are filled, carefully turn the jars back over. USDA guidelines advise that the jars should be processed in a boiling water bath to ensure safety.
Allow the jelly to cool someplace where they won’t be disturbed. It may take a few days for the jelly to set, so be patient! If you keep moving the jars around to check it, you could prevent it from setting. This jelly tastes great in a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and is quite lovely on a piece of buttered toast or other warm bread. Enjoy!
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