|Collected petals from various peonies at Our Little Acre.|
I love peonies and also love that we live near the once Peony Capital of the World - Van Wert, Ohio. Large peony farms once existed throughout the county and several hybrids came out of this area. This weekend the city celebrates the annual Peony Festival, which had its beginning back in 1932.
This has been a good year for peonies in my garden, with a couple exceptions. The Itoh hybrid, 'Bartzella', didn't have a single bloom this year, but it's only the second year in my garden and peonies have been known to pout for a few years after planting or transplanting. I expect to see blooms on it next year.
Another Itoh, 'Lollipop', bloomed for the first time this year since planting it three years ago, although neither of its two blooms were particular pretty. (I have confidence they'll be better next year.) The tree peony that had to be moved when the greenhouse was built started blooming again.
The biggest success story was the purple tree peony, 'Kamatanishiki', which bloomed for the very first time in my garden and boy, did it. I'm not sure I'd call it purple, but it was gorgeous.
|Paeonia suffruticosa 'Kamatanishiki'|
When it was brought to my attention by several friends on Facebook that you could make jelly from peony petals, I was fascinated and wanted to try it. It could not have been easier. I generally followed the recipe posted by Joe and Janna at Imperfect Urban Farm in 2011, only changing the kind of pectin I used - powder versus liquid.
1 quart of peony petals (sort out green bits and bugs, and don't use any with brown edges)
5 cups of boiling water
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 package of liquid pectin or 2 Tbsp. powdered pectin
I picked an assortment of peony petals, choosing those that were most fragrant and only those that smelled good. While I love the fragrance of most peonies, some of them don't smell as good as others. I gathered about a quart of them, although that is an arbitrary amount because it depends on how tightly you pack them. The more, the better, I think, but I didn't smoosh them down much.
Then I poured about five cups of boiling water over the petals, which immediately caused them to wilt and get mushy. The fragrance changed to less of a perfumey smell to just smelling like green plants. I let them steep overnight, but it's recommended to let them sit for a minimum of six hours.
|This is what the liquid from the steeped peony petals looked like after I strained it through cheesecloth.|
The next morning, I poured the water off the petals, straining it through some cheesecloth. In the original post at IUF, they mention the color as being ugly, but mine was actually very pretty. I think it may have been because of the dark red petals in my mix.
|I used the juice of a Meyer lemon from my|
When I added the lemon juice, the color of the liquid intensified quite a bit to a deeper pink.
|It just LOOKS like it would taste good, doesn't it?|
I brought the liquid to a boil, then added the sugar and powdered pectin. The original recipe called for one package of liquid pectin, but I only had the powdered kind on hand and I found that two tablespoons of powdered equals one package of liquid. Note though that it's recommended you mix the powdered pectin in with the sugar before adding it to the liquid. I whisked it all in and brought the liquid to a boil again, and boiled it for about three minutes.
The original recipe said to only boil it for a minute, but that just didn't seem long enough to me. After three minutes, the liquid coated a spoon so I knew it would thicken as it cooled.
|This recipe yielded three pints of jelly for me. Though it looks a little more orange in this photo, it's|
actually a nice shade of pink.
I poured it into the jars and let it cool. Later in the day, it was thicker, but wasn't thick enough to spread just yet, so I took a Club cracker and dipped it into the jelly to taste it. I don't even know how to describe it, but it's good. Romie said he thought it was "kind of peachy, kind of like strawberry, something a little different, but it's good!" If you're expecting a berry type of jelly, it's not that. It would probably be in the same class as rose or lavender jelly.
If you try it or have made peony jelly in the past, I'd love to have some feedback here about your experience!
|Paeonia lactiflora 'Charles Burgess', which is actually a deep red, rather than dark pink as it appears here.|
|An unknown single white, which grew from root stock of a tree peony that died above the graft.|