Sweet Backcountry Beauty – Fireweed Syrup


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 30, 2013      
window

Summer afternoon in our Colorado kitchen. Click images to enlarge.

Each week, the backcountry hills around WildSnow HQ in Marble delight us with a new wave of wildflowers. Bluebells and red columbine in early spring start a cycle that makes the uncultivated foliage by our port-a-hut a lush beautiful garden. We’ve cleared dead aspens and thinned the choked forest but done little else to encourage the delicate blooms. In the clearings the flowers are prolific, happy to spread their leaves and feel the sunshine on their faces.

Fireweed

Fireweed in the field.

A friend from Alaska recently pointed out flowering fireweed and mentioned it makes a tasty jelly. I thinned a waist high grove, leaving some to reseed, and walked away with a large bag of blossoms. I cut the flowers and buds from the stems with scissors, careful not to include any leaves or stems which add a bitter flavor. While rain misted outside, I spent a pleasant afternoon with bright fuchsia blossoms littering the counter.

Most of the recipes I found called for a little lemon juice and a whole lot of sugar. I prefer to use honey or agave for a sweetener but having neither in the pantry, I used sugar. I based my brew on a recipe from the Cooperative Extension of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, but found it too sweet so I quadrupled the amount of lemon juice.

Fireweed Syrup

2.5 cups hard-packed fireweed petals and buds (no stems or leaves)
2.5 cups water
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon butter
One 3 oz. packet of liquid pectin

Place fireweed in pan and cover with boiling water. Stir over heat for 1 minute. Let cool. Add lemon juice, pectin and butter and bring to boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add sugar and boil for 3 more minutes, still stirring. (If you want to make jelly instead of syrup, boil for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and place a few teaspoons on a cold plate in the frig for 5 minutes to test the set. If you want it thicker, add 1/2 cup of sugar and boil for 10 minutes more.)

Place liquid in clean jelly jars. Instead of boiling the jars to make the seal, an Austrian friend recommends simply inverting the jars of hot liquid and placing them in a cool cellar. Since we don’t have a cellar, I left them inverted on the counter. After they cooled the lids were indeed vacuum sealed. To be safe I’ll store them in our fridge.

ice

Yummy on ice cream - rates two sticky thumbs up.



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Comments

9 Responses to “Sweet Backcountry Beauty – Fireweed Syrup”

  1. Kavamales July 30th, 2013 10:59 am

    looks so delicious! You woke my apetite!

  2. Crazy Horse July 30th, 2013 8:53 pm

    beautiful!

  3. Patrick July 31st, 2013 1:07 pm

    hey WildSnow Gal and Lou,
    At WildSnow HQ, I recommend you keep a handle on invasive non-native plants that likely encroached during past decades. Examples: Oxe-eye daisy, knapweed, etc. Invasive plants can be ‘pretty’, but don’t be fooled. Invasives tend to be aggressive plants that can displace your native Colorado plants. How’d they get there? Most invasives are pioneer species that can come in after grazing, fire, maybe mining.
    See this 1-pager about San Juan invasive plants…
    http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Portals/0/docs/county/PublicWorks/land-management/Reveg/High_Altitude_Weeds.pdf
    PS — Removing invasive plants can be a sort of ‘meditation’, along the lines of splitting firewood.

  4. Ron July 31st, 2013 1:13 pm

    We have Fireweed behind our house so we’ll try your recipe, and will add the flowers to our salad tonite too. Thanks!

  5. Lou Dawson July 31st, 2013 1:24 pm

    Patrick, we already started the battle, thanks for bringing up the subject!

  6. sharon June 15th, 2015 11:22 am

    Where can I buy fireweed syrup?

  7. Inspiration July 31st, 2016 3:26 pm

    Tried this recipe and followed it exactly. It turned out even harder and thicker than jelly. I couldn’t even spread it. 🙁

  8. Lou Dawson 2 July 31st, 2016 4:00 pm

    Hi, I’ll get Lisa to check out here recipe, perhaps she made a typo or something. I remember it worked fine. Lou

  9. Joshua August 20th, 2016 1:48 pm

    Any idea where I can find some fireweed plants l or fireweed syrup. I live in AL and my wife live in AK for 3 years and loved it!! Never can find it

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