This example shows you how to make kudzu jelly. You can use this recipe to make almost any type of jelly from the fruit juice; where there is a difference, I will point it out! The yield from this recipe is about 12 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 6 pints).
It's easy to find and pick kudzu blossoms. Kudzu is a weed, originally brought here from Asia, which grows al over the South of the US. It is an annual weed that grows at a phenomenal rate. Goats are often used to eat it and control it. I go to any City, State or National park or wildlife area to find it. That way, you don't need to worry about pesticides or contaminants. Kudzu blooms from July through September. I find most in August.
You only need the individual open flowers, not the closed buds, so you simply grasp the purple flow stalk with your hand and gently pull them off. You will need to collect at least 6 cups of flowers to make a batch of jelly.
kudzu jelly can ONLY be made in rather small batches - about 4 to 6 cups at a time - like the directions on the pectin say, DO NOT increase the recipes or the kudzu jelly won't "set" (jell, thicken).
So that means you'll want to pick 4 to 6 cups amounts of kudzu flowers. Basically if you loosely fill a grocery store plastic bag, that's about 6 cups, after you remove the stems and unopened blooms.
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.
NOTE: If a canning recipe calls for 10 minutes or more of process time in the canner, then the jars do not need to be "sanitized" before filling them. But really, sanitizing them first is just good hygeine and common sense! See this page for more detail about cleaning and sanitizing jars and lids.
Instead of the above, you can also put the jars in the boiling water in the canner for 5 minutes before you fill them - this is the best method!
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 10 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.
Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jelly.
First pick out any brown or dead flowers, bugs, stems and other debris. Then rinse gently under cold water.
If you use the regular pectin it takes 7 cups of sugar to 5 or 6 cups of juice and one and a half boxes (5 or 6 Tablespoons) of regular pectin. You can use only 5 cups of sugar if you use the "no-sugar-needed" pectin. . Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of the sugar and keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you'll just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping.
Now get 5 or 6 cups of water boiling (1 cup of boiling water per cup of flowers). Then pour it over the Kudzu flowers in either a Pyrex glass container or a Teflon or ceramic lined metal container. No bare metal! Now, we let it steep or soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Just pour the steep kudzu flowers through a strainer, sieve or jelly strainer.
Discard the flowers and Put the kudzu extract6 or tea in a big pot on the stove. Add the pectin from step 5 (mixed with 1/4 cup of the sugar). Stir well. Now add the 1/4 cup of lemon juice.
Heat the pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning). It should take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away).
Notes about pectin: I usually add about 25% - 30% more pectin (just open another pack and add a little) or else the jelly is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you'll find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like.
Another tip: use the low sugar or no-sugar pectin. It cuts the amount of sugar you need from 7 cups per batch to 4 cups. And it tastes even better! On the other hand; I still add some sugar, even with the No-sugar pectin. With no added sugar, the batches always turned out runny and bland. You might want to try using the low sugar recipe with a mixture of sugar and Stevia (or if you prefer, agave, honey or Splenda); that could work, but you do get the best results with sugar.
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If you didn't do so already, put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.
Need lids, rings and replacement jars?
When the kudzu-pectin mix has reached a full boil, add the rest of the sugar (about 4.5 cups of sugar per 5 or 6 cup batch of kudzu extract 4 and then bring it back to a boil and then boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly
I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1/4 to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jelly off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Do not tightenn hard; just 1/4 turn past when it seats; just snug so they don't leak, Then put the filled jars into the canner!
This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!
Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 5 minutes, which is what SureJell (the makers of the pectin) recommend. I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them. The directions inside every box of pectin will tell you exactly - and see the Table below for altitude differences. The directions on the pectin tend to be pretty conservative. Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jelly and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!
|Table 1. Recommended process time for kudzu jelly in a boiling water canner.|
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Style of Pack||Jar Size||0 - 1,000 ft||1,001 - 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
Lift the jars out of the water with your jar lifter tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last up to 12 months. But after about 6 to 8 months, they get darker in color and start to get runny. They still are safe to eat, but the flavor and texture aren't as good. So eat them in the first 6 months after you prepare them!
From left to right:
Q. I was reading the instructions on making kudzu jelly. Where do you find Kudzu?
A.Kudzu is an invasive plant species, not native to the U.S., but it has taken over much of the southeast and some of the coastal northwest, see the map:
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