The jams I ought to make

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The best way to preserve foods is to take what you have in abundance, especially if it’s seemingly free. Buying lots of fruit to jam is just not as economical efficient as using what is found in your yard or neighborhood.

collected rose petalsBeing one with very little food yard, I’m guilty of buying my jamming fruits from the market. However, if I open my eyes I can see the potential fruits in my vicinity that could be creatively used:

Do you have nontraditional plants in your yard that you harvest? Help widen my sense of vision on what is useful…


posted July 12th, 2009 at 11:11 am

These sound beautiful, and this reminds me of an ethnobotany field course I took up in the Puget Sound area many years ago. We made “jam” out of herbs using honey as the preservative, which also acts to preserve both the nutrients and the healing properties of the plant.

Love your blog! Keep up the good and inspiring work :)

- Becca
posted July 12th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

I make a rosemary Riesling jelly in the winter (see for a recipe and a picture of one that needs more pectin) and an apple cider jelly in the fall. Let your roses flower and set hips; they’re very good for jam! Also, I have a recipe somewhere for fir tip jam, which might be very nice for the PNW set…

Oh these are all excellent sounding!
I do have some rose hips developing in the backyard. And some rosemary in the front.


- Eugenia
posted July 13th, 2009 at 5:43 am

I made jam for the first time this weekend, and although they aren’t as interesting as the ones you’re thinking about, they came out yummy. I did a quadruple berry (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry) and a pineapple-rhubarb.

- Katrina
posted July 13th, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I made fir tip jelly once and it tasted like fir tips smell. Beyond the novelty, though, I didn’t have many things to do with it. My lavender jelly, that I made last year, also smelled pretty but had limited uses. I mixed it with chevre and baked a chicken with it but it was too sweet.

BTW, there’s a place in OR that makes lavender soda. Dry Soda, i think it’s called.

- Heather
posted July 15th, 2009 at 10:27 am

I’ve started to grow Camas just so I can eat it. Plus it has a pretty purple flower!

Other options are Horsetail ferns which make a very good tea. If you’ve got a tree or rock that is growing lots of moss and there are tiny ferns growing in that, you’ve got licorice root. Thistle makes a good tea, and the leaves when properly prepared can go into a salad (technically so can the dandelion leaves.)

Also, I highly recommend you buy this book while it’s still cheap ;Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples

It’s out of print, but is considered the finest book in this field. I (finally) got my own copy and have been replanning my entire yard around it. It coveres native plants that grow in the Pacific Northwest AND were used as a food source by Native Americans. It also tells what parts of the plants were used and gives basic preparation ideas.

- Rick Hamell
posted July 16th, 2009 at 2:33 pm

That picture of the rose petals is just beautiful…

- Laura
posted July 17th, 2009 at 9:54 am

Heh, if you want a non-traditional food source, my mother uses cattails and has a few recipes.

- Jeromy French
posted July 17th, 2009 at 1:40 pm

We have plenty of jam recipes on our site but I’ve never thought of making jam out of flowers! Great idea.

- Hillary
posted July 21st, 2009 at 10:30 am

My Grandmother used to make Dandelion Jelly and can it in baby food jars, or really any jar she could find. Sadly I never tasted it because it sounded too strange to me at that time. Now I wonder what it tasted like too. I have found several recipes but, so far, I have never tried making it myself.

- Lisa
posted July 24th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

I love dandelion jelly. It tastes like a cross between honey and sunshine! I have been wondering about daylily jelly and nasturtium jelly. the nasturtiums would be hot and spice, like black pepper. It would be great on lamb, or duck. Any meat probably. I think chickory flower jelly would be nice, and hopefully stay blue!! We had so many plums and cherries this year. We gave them away by the grocery sack full!! and still had way too many!!

- Joe
posted July 25th, 2009 at 2:46 pm

I know I’m not directly answering your question but I’m not sure how to directly answer it since you live in Portland and I live in California and the wild food is so different but I have a couple of suggestions:

1. Ever since I read omnivores dilemna, I have been fascinated with the idea that fruit hanging over a public space (a tree growing over a fence above a sidewalk for instance) is public domain. is exploring this. I have not been brave enough to harvest anything myself, but I know where a lemon tree is growing by a bike path and I have a three tree olive grove staked out. I also know where california wild black walnuts are growing. Oregon is full of wild growing blackberries. You could get some free blackberry jam! …as long as you find a clean source (not by a road, etc).

2. People who grow fruit trees in their yards often have too much fruit to consume. If you know someone who doesn’t can their own fruit, you may be able to score some free fruit that way.

3. My friend who lives near you just went blueberry picking on sauvies island for $1.50 a pound. She is looking for u pick peaches for just as el cheapo. You may want to check sauvies island or the willamette valley for bargains.

Good luck! Homemade food is so good for you. Let us know how it works out!!

Hi Mimi,

We lucky Portlanders have some open source fruit options here:
+ the Portland Tree Project
+ and Urban Edibles

thanks for reminding me about these!


- Mimi
posted August 22nd, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Simple recipe for lavender jelly, looks pretty interesting:

- Dave O
posted August 31st, 2009 at 7:34 pm

There’s the classic mint jelly, always served with lamb when I was a kid. It would have to be better than the store-bought kryptonite version.

- Angela
posted September 7th, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I have two grandsons that have been helping me pick dandelion flowers and violets flowers to make jelly. They anxiously await for the day that the flowers are ready to pick to start making the jelly. The dandelion tastes, (as one person replied) tastes like mild honey. The violet jelly is mildly sweet and floral. If anyone needs the recipes I’ll gladly pass them on, so next spring you’ll be ready to pick.

- Tracy
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